SLENZ Update, No 131, August 24, 2009

The SLENZ PROJECT

“Students can experience the

authenticity of the moment”



Te Wāhi Whānau, The Birth Place, on the SLENZ Project’s Second Life island of Kowhai is a place where midwifery students can experience the authenticity of the moment of labour and birth even if in a virtual world.
A new machinima demonstrating  just how the normal birth scenario works in Te Wāhi Whānau has been produced  by  well-known New York machinima maker, Pooky Amsterdam (pictured right), of PookyMedia,  and directed by Scotland-based Russell (Rosco) Boyd. PookyAmsterdam

Midwifery pilot lead educator Sarah Stewart (SL: Petal Stransky) and SLENZ Project co-leader, Terry Neal (SL: Tere Tinkel) worked with Pooky and Russell to write the script which Russell, working from Scotland,  and Pooky, working from New York, turned into the machinima.

The delightful Kiwi accents were provided by Terry’s whanau or family.

Terry commented after  completion, “It was lots of fun despite the challenge of finding times we were all awake (because of the different time zones)”

The main target audience for the promtional video, according to Terry, is the Otago Polytech and CPIT (Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology) distance students who will be initially using the pilot.

“However, I also think other staff and CEs etc will benefit from watching it,” she said.  “By doing so they will begin to understand the amazing potential of these immersive learning opportunities.”

SLENZ Update, No 127, August 13, 2009

SLENZ Project

Arwenna, Petal find the  light

at the end of the SL Tunnel …

Sarahmidwif“Authenticity of the scene” … inside the Birth Centre. (picture Sarah Stewart)

“The first words I heard were, ‘This is so much FUN …’

The listener was Arwenna Stardust (RL: SLENZ Project co-leader Dr Clare Atkins) and the words were from one of the midwife trainees “learning real lessons” at the Otago Polytechnic  Birth Centre on the Second Life SLENZ  island of Kowhai:  they summed up just what learning in a virtual world should be.

Arwenna, in the blog that  she doubted she  would ever be able to write “many times over the last few months””,  details how she was able to watch and listen in as the first of the midwifery students used the birth centre.

Her post entitled  “Finally – it all comes together! Midwives and SL” is  inspirational.  It demonstrates  again there is really light at the end of the virtual world education/training  tunnel.

Coupled with  lead educator Sarah Stewart’s (SL: Petal Stransky) post, “Students’ first experience of the Second Life normal birth scenario,” Arwenna’s post shows that, in Clare’s words,  “this is perhaps the closest (student midwives)  will get …  to the ‘real’ world  (for some time) and for them it seemed real but it also allowed them to make mistakes, ask for reassurance from Sarah and … to learn from her instruction and guidance.”Stewart, Sarah

For her part, Sarah (pictured right) says, “They were able to engage with a scene that will face them many times as a ‘real life midwife’ …  the beauty of this scenario and role play in Second Life is that students can experience the authenticity of the scene and learn from it, but are unable to do any harm to the woman. And because they have supporting visual tools and resources the role play is a lot more immersive than it would be if they were carrying out the role play in the classroom.”
But read both posts for yourself. I think you will find them worthwhile, particularly if you are feeling disheartened by the perceived difficulties with launching  an education or training programme in a virtual world. There is a light at the end of the virtual tunnel.

The Midwifery Pilot, as part of the Otago Polytechnic’s School of Midwifery, is one of three pilot programmes being run by SLENZ Project, which is funded by the Tertiary Education Commission of New Zealand.

SLENZ Update, No 124, August 8, 2009

Bringing your  avatar to ‘real’ life …

Out-of-body experiences may

provide the  ‘real’ answers

FOR PARALYSED AND  VIRTUAL GAMERS

more about “Out-of-body experiences help bring av…“, posted with vodpod

The dream of many of paralysed people and  computer-game designers is one step closer to reality with the demonstration of a technique that allows people to physically identify with a virtual body, according to  the New Scientist.

The achievement builds on previous work, reported previously in the SLENZ Update,  in which Swiss neuroscientists created similar to out-of-body experiences in healthy volunteers when they  used movie cameras and tricked people viewing their virtual body into feeling that body being touched.

In the latest experiment, according to  the New  Scientist, vibrating pads with flashing lights were positioned on the subjects’ backs. Virtual bodies were generated by a camera filming their backs and were viewed as though 2 metres in front of the subjects through a head-mounted display. Repeated stroking of their backs, and the sight of the doppelganger being stroked, created the feeling for some of the volunteers that they were outside of their bodies. They reported that the vibrations were felt in the location where the flash was seen on their virtual body.

Because this work confirms that people can be made to feel that a touch on the real body is a touch on the virtual body, Jane Aspell of the Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, who led the study, said: “This emerging field has interesting implications for virtual computer gaming, such as making avatars seem more real and increasing presence in the VR environment.”

“This technology, although currently in basic research, seems to have a very promising future for clinical applications in restoring lost motor functions in paralysed people,” according to  bioethicist Jens Clausen, of the Institute for Ethics and the History of Medicine at the University of Tűbingen in Germany. “It’s important to integrate prosthetics into one’s self concept.”

Although full out-of-body experiences in the lab remain elusive, New Scientist said, the group is now aiming to boost the illusion by inducing the subject to identify more strongly with the virtual body.
If ever realised the implications  of the “out-of-body’ sensory perception will be important  for all those who want to engage, for whatever reasons,  more than their visual and auditory senses in virtual worlds.

The SLENZ Update – No 123, August 07, 2009

THE COUCH IN THE COMPUTER

Virtual psychology, therapy

to get own  OLIVE world

InWorld

Using the On-Line Interactive Virtual Environment (OLIVE™) virtual world platform from Forterra Systems, InWorld Solutions™, of Palo Alta, California,  has developed a virtual world specifically designed for behavioral healthcare.

Created for use by clinical institutions and individual therapists, the online application, InWorld, has been designed to  overcome emotional and cognitive barriers to therapy, counseling, and education by engaging clients and mobilising their active participation.

Like health and medical applications in Second Life, InWorld can also be used for therapist training and supervision. Although in a different virtual world it will join a number of pioneering medical training and health care applications being run in Second Life such as  the SLENZ Project’s midwifery education pilot program being run by  Otago Polytechnic,  Auckland University’s Virtual Medical Centre,  and  a myriad of other universities and organisations around the world who are doing pioneering medical and healthcare work in  MUVEs.

The InWorld application was scheduled  to be unveiled in Toronto, Canada,  today, Friday,  at an American Psychological Association (APA)  117th Annual Convention  plenary session entitled Next Stop: Virtual Psychology and Therapy.

“We founded InWorld Solutions to bring new technology to the field of behavioral healthcare,” said InWorld Solutions co-founder and CEO Walter Greenleaf, a pioneer in medical virtual environments and a Stanford University-trained research scientist specialising in behavioral neuroscience and cognitive rehabilitation.

“I’m excited about the convergence of several technical and social trends that enable us to provide InWorld today: the advancement of virtual environment technology, the penetration of broadband Internet, the affordability of computing power, and the growing adoption of virtual worlds,” he added.

Les Paschall, InWorld Solutions co-founder and CEO of CFG Health Systems, a 450-clinician behavioral healthcare provider in Marlton, New Jersey, said, “The potential demand for this kind of program is enormous. InWorld is designed to manage a wide range of disorders, and we’re seeing unprecedented levels of engagement and participation in our first use with clients who suffer from oppositional defiance disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as patients dealing with issues of anger management and substance abuse.”

The pair claimed that  InWorld is the first and only product to offer therapists a complete solution by combining a virtual world with important clinical functions such as session notes, appointment calendar, clinical illustrations, a clinical manual, and the management of avatars, the personalized characters used by therapists and their clients.

Complements traditional therapy

Interactions use speech, so keyboard skills are not required. Sessions are recorded and can be saved for review and playback from different viewing perspectives.

It complements traditional talk therapy, helping the therapeutic process to go deeper and progress more rapidly for individual, family, and group therapy. In addition, InWorld can increase access to behavioral healthcare by allowing therapists and clients to meet in the same or different locations.

It was first used in residential care facilities for teens more than two years ago and was found to be a successful treatment option, making it possible to engage patients in the therapeutic process in ways that not only enable therapy, but facilitate faster progress.

In every setting where it has been used, clinicians and patients have reported, according to the company, that it is an important addition to the tools available for the management and treatment of behavioral health.

InWorld, which runs on the Windows operating system and requires broadband Internet access, will be available for download from the InWorld Solutions website in October 2009 at an introductory subscription-based pricing of  US$95 per month per clinician.

See also:  Use of Virtual Environments in Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and  here.

inworld2

The SLENZ Update – No 120, July 29, 2009

SOME THINGS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED …

Research: VWs may help put you at ease

when dealing with your own health

mammogramUniversity of Toronto researchers put their avatar through
the paces of a virtual mammogram. Picture itbusiness.

Health researchers believe that the Web 2.0 world may be able to teach them something that the medical industry has never been able to master — the ability to make people feel comfortable and at ease when dealing with their own health, according to  the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

“If you have to get a mammogram and you can walk through the process before it happens, it may help you get more informed and ask more reasonable questions of your healthcare practitioner,” Dr Jennifer Keelan, with the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, told  itbusiness.ca, when discussing a University of Toronto study of healthcare activities in Second Life.  “I’ve never been taught to do a breast self-exam before. I found it interesting as a woman to go through that exercise, and I think the detail was sufficient for a person to try in real life.

Authored by student Leslie Beard and supervised by Keelan, the study published in a recent Journal of Medical Internet Research, examined 68 virtual sites where health was being taught or supported and concluded that even if healthcare is conducted in a virtual world, it may have real world applications.

Of those 68 sites, 34 were taking part in health education or awareness raising activities just like The Women’s Health Center at the Ann Myers Medical Center, referred to by Keelan in discussing the mammogram, which although a virtual healthcare facility,has nurses and physicians  who are real. They work here to reach out beyond the physical boundaries of the hospital and work past the innate discomfort of demonstrating good technique for self-examination mammograms.

“For many (medical) users, Second Life activities are a part of their Web 2.0 communication strategy,” the study said. ” The most common type of health-related site in our sample  were those whose principle aim was patient education or to increase awareness about health issues. The second most common type of site were support sites, followed by training sites, and marketing sites. Finally, a few sites were purpose-built to conduct research in SL or to recruit participants for real-life research.”

“Studies show that behaviors from virtual worlds can translate to the real world,” the study concluded. “Our survey suggests that users are engaged in a range of health-related activities in Second Life which are potentially impacting real-life behaviors.”

Discover Magazine asks:

Can Training in Second Life Teach

Doctors to Save Real Lives?

Auckland University’s associate director of information technology Scott Diener (pictured right) gets a notable mention in Discover magazine’s  report on virtual reality medical training programs which it says may bring big changes to the way health-care professionals learn their craft.

The article, among other things, looks at Diener’s  virtual Auckland University Medical Centre, and specifically at  a postpartum-hemorrhage simulation which has been operating since January for nursing students.DienerScott

Quoting Diener, Discover notes that so far, around 20 students have used the simulation on Auckland University’s  Second Life island of Long White Cloud, with overwhelmingly positive results.

“After they’ve ended the scenario, the faculty sits down and talks about their decisions,” Diener said. “From a learning perspective, it’s the post-scenario debriefing that does more for the students than anything else.”

The SLENZ Update – No 119, July 25, 2009

THE SLENZ PROJECT

Midwifery tutor passes on

‘lessons’ from 1st SL  class

Lead educator for the SLENZ Project’s Midwifery pilot for Otago Polytechnic and Canterbury’s CPIT, Sarah Stewart (SL: Petal Stransky) (pictured),  after running her first  teaching sessions in Second Life, has come up with  nine interesting and valuable  lessons for  any neophyte virtual world teacher.

Although most seasoned Second Life educators will have already solved these the issues she raises  they are worth thinking about again as one reads her blog, Sarah’s Musings.Stewart, Sarah

Stewart’s sessions were based on the second learning activity that has been designed for junior midwifery students as part of the SLENZ Project’s midwifery pilot.
Her key lesson appears to be: “If you are new to Second Life as a teacher, have someone with you who can help out until you grow more confident in your abilities. I am still learning about Second Life myself so found it really useful to have Leigh (Blackall) with me to support me.”

Although disappointed at the lack of discussion and apparently interaction that took place with the small number of  students Stewart  enjoyed taking them around. Her final word to herself, however, says it all: “… be very organised with what I do and say, and make sure I am as prepared for eventualities as I can be.”

While reading  Stewart’s blog its also worth while looking at her  two explorations/ examinations  of  “birthing places” in Second Life, no matter how unrelated to real life some of those birthing places are and how whimsical they may be.

The blogs are here and an earlier one, here.

The SLENZ Update – No 110, July 07, 2009

Oldest US dental school to become first dental school in Second LifeUMDentalSchool_007

The United States’ oldest dental school – at the University of Maryland-Baltimore – is set to become, later this year, the first school to offer dental training in Second Life.

“We have developed a virtual world where students and faculty can collaborate and train,” Dr Carroll-Ann Trotman, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at UMB, told Emmett Burnett of SLEntrepreneurMagazine last month.

“Second Life enables us to reach students around the world in ways that were practically impossible before,” she said. “It is a global outreach.”

“But virtual dental training is an additional educational tool, one of many,” Dr Trotman told Burnett. “It is not a substitute for real classrooms.”

Students at virtual UM Dental School will be able to study and train at the new virtual campus which will offer consultations, case studies, classes, lectures and training.

It is the brainchild of Julie Gilliam, – instrumental in the online school’s technical development – and Dean Christian S. Stohler, Dean of UMB, who, according to SLEntrepreneurMagazine, is credited with the foresight in funding the virtual site’s development.

UMDentalSchool_001UM Dental School campus replicated in many ways.

The virtual UM Dental School in many ways replicates the real life campus. It has classrooms, conference areas and student centers as well as clinical areas.

It has three goals: Allow more collaboration between students and faculty; provide another tool for teaching, with emphasis on ‘another,’ not a substitute for traditional training; simulate real life scenarios with case studies and role playing opportunities, giving avatars hands on training in activities ranging from diagnosing symptoms to dealing with disgruntled patients.

The virtual campus also houses exhibits from the National Museum of Dentistry.

UMDentalSchool_008National Museum of Dentistry … from the historic to the unusual.
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