As we get ready to start a new semester at GCU I want to reflect on last years projects which have been happening on the islands. The University of Wisconsin had a very successful time with their project management simulation and will be staying for another year. However, Tom Sulzer will be taking over as the lead from Tony so we look forward to welcoming Tom. I hope to persuade Tony to present at Virtual World Education Roundtable (VWER) soon. Talking of VWER we have had a great 6 months hosting VWER at GCU, great discussions and presentations from Shailey Minocha, and DAvid W Deeds amongst others and have a few great presentations coming up soon.
I will be using our ward area for simulation again this year and the cyberpsychology students will be with Jane Guiller for another interesting semester. They continuously comment on how much they enjoy their VW projects.
So look forward to another semester and meeting more new folks.
At GCU we rent out land to other universities to help them remain in SL (if they wish) when they do not need a whole island for their projects. This allows GCU to remain in SL as well as building relationships with national and international institutions. In this project, Tony Keys of University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire Information Systems Department describes how and why he chooses to use SL in a Project Management scenario;
“Learning about project management from a text, or even a single computer simulation, has its limits. Students never get to experience the number and richness of the interactions between the many roles in a project. Actually taking on a real life project is fraught with difficulties – one of the key success factors for a project is an experienced project manager, and the experience of a business working with students on a project would not always be positive.In our class we keep the real life project experience but remove the possible relationship problems with businesses by having the students work on a project in a virtual world. The goals of the Virtual World Project are to cultivate the students understanding of the key roles of communication and collaboration skills in successful project management.Each semester the project management class students, 24 – 28 of them, are formed into two 12-14 person project teams. Each project team has a number of roles – Project Manager, Project Manager Assistant, Analyst, Designer, Builder, Texturizer and Furnisher – each requiring a different skill set. The team is given a building project for a client, who is an avatar who exists in the virtual world. The team also has access to another avatar who plays the role of a resource manager. The many roles set up an environment where all need to play their part to ensure the success of the project. As a further incentive to collaborate, the two project teams have building projects that must physically connect, meaning that roles on a team must communicate with roles on the other team as well as their own team. Currently the students are assessed on a number of dimensions. Of course, they are assessed on the final deliverable, the buildings they have been asked to build. They are also required to write several reflection pieces over the life of the project commenting on how they solved problems that arose and also on the effective communications that occurred between them as they worked.For the instructor, the project is an exercise in restraint. The students need to fail in order to learn in many instances, and the environment that they are working in allows them to do this with little risk. The instructor needs to be a guide, but a guide who waves vaguely in the right direction rather than one who gives detailed instructions or solutions.In the end, the students experience frustration, bafflement, panic, success, achievement, pride and fun in varying amounts. This is our third semester in the current large project format, and it continues due to the positive feedback about the value of the project in developing their collaboration skills and increasing their understanding of the project management process”.
We wish Tony every success and hope he will remain at GCU for future semesters.
If you wish to rent land from us here at GCU please get in touch to discuss.
So what is going on at GCU islands. Well, we are continuing to work with Indiana University in the use of virtual worlds for healthcare simulations (more on this soon). The University of Richmond will be back in a few months with Dr Joe Essid (Sl:Ignatius Onomatopoeia) and we continue to use VWs for healthcare simulation and cyberpsychology. We hope to be able to tell you more about a Social Work simulation soon.
As for my PhD I have now finished my first phase analysis (thank you so much to those who gave up their time to take part, you know who you are!). I am in the writing up stage of the findings and hope to be able to share these early next year. Thanks also to all the people who allowed me to leave a notecard giver on their island to aid recruitment.
Mayo Clinic health info day
GCU’s School of Health and Life Sciences has joined up with the University of Richmond’s Centre for Teaching, Learning, and Technology, in an exciting new collaboration which is set within GCUs land in the 3D virtual World Second Life. Dr Joe Essid Director of the Writing Centre explains his use of virtual worlds “The Virtual House of Usher began as a faculty-student partnership sponsored by the University of Richmond’s Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology in the summer of 2009. The project uses virtual-world technology to create an interactive story, with faculty actors in the roles of Richmond native Edgar Allan Poe’s characters Roderick and Madeline Usher. Students, in the role of Poe’s narrator, try to avoid the dreadful fate that overcomes the Usher family in the original tale. Using the original story as both springboard for interactive learning and questions about the nature of literary narrative, four courses in literature or Rhetoric and Communications Studies have used the online House. The experience is that of improvisational acting in a game-like space where students must find clues, resolve conflicting stories, and pursue personal goals while staying as guests in a dreary mansion just off the Yorkshire coast in the year 1847. The explorations of Poe’s obsessions and obsessed characters, in the words of one recent participant, “was in my opinion the most privileged opportunity of the entire interactive experience because it allowed me to not only become a part of the story, but to resolve the characters’ problems in Edgar Allan Poe’s short story that traditionally remained unresolved.”
It is hoped that this will lead to further collaboration between GCU and University of Richmond in other disciplines. For further information or a tour of the House of Usher please email Evelyn.McElhinney@gcu.ac.uk , Lecturer in the Department of Health and Community Sciences or Instant Message her in Second Life – Kali Pizzaro.