The SLENZ Update – No 52, March 6, 2009

IBM makes face-to-face

easier with Sametime 3D

Sametime 3D demo

IBM is expediting the “marriage” between “virtual world” Web sites, and “unified communications and collaboration tools” — technology that links such things as voicemail, audible chat, and instant messaging – allowing  geographically  widely dispersed meeting-goers to teleport themselves from instant message chats to virtual conference rooms (http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/Ibm-NYSE-IBM-957273.html)

Big Blue announced this week that it now allowing selected clients to test Sametime 3D, a new tool which allows business colleagues not only to exchange instant messages and chat verbally, but also share presentations and ideas in private, prefabricated, reusable meeting spaces located in a variety of virtual worlds. These spaces allow participants to, literally, throw ideas on the wall during a meeting to “see what sticks,” and to vote on, organise, and save the most promising proposals. Avatars can make presentations to one another, socialise, debate, or, literally, examine ideas and 3D objects from all angles.

Along with the new software tool IBM is providing several, secure reusable meeting spaces, including a theater-style amphitheatre, a boardroom and a collaboration space which can each be used for impromptu or scheduled brainstorming sessions, status updates, town hall-style meetings, rehearsals, training classes, and more.

“This project is part of IBM’s ongoing work to redefine the nature of online meetings,” Colin Parris, IBM’s vice president for Industry Solutions and Emerging Business, said “The work that takes place during a meeting is hard enough; people shouldn’t have to struggle with logistics. Whether through improvements to Web conferencing capabilities or with special offerings such as Sametime 3D, IBM is offering new ways to engage and collaborate, making meetings more effective and productive.”

The new software overcomes several challenges that have existed for businesses wishing to hold meetings in virtual worlds: First, businesses can collaborate the way in which they are accustomed, using software they may already have, such as electronic presentations, enterprise security, and instant messaging tools. Second, IBM has prefabricated a variety of re-useable spaces specifically designed for productive meetings, making it unnecessary for adopters to painstakingly build meeting rooms each time they want to meet. Third, these spaces are secure, overcoming privacy concerns manifest in many public areas of popular virtual worlds. And finally, colleagues not wishing to participate in a given virtual meeting can still view documents, presentations and results from those sessions — or even snapshots of a previous meeting.

In the future, the software will provide a variety of ways for participants to circulate reports to one another that document the meetings’ progress. IBM will also make it easier for users to chat verbally and exchange information generated by and for virtual meetings, with traditional computer software already installed on their computers and servers.

The new software, which may be made available by the second half of 2009, uses version 8.0 of IBM Lotus Sametime, and a plug-in designed by IBM Research for virtual worlds. When the software is developed fully, clients will be able to use it to connect any number of virtual worlds, such as OpenSim or Second Life.

EVENT

joykay1

Sunday 8 March – NZST time, 4 pm;  AEST time, 2pm, SL time 7pm, Saturday, 7 March: The Islands of  jokaydia’s Community of Practice’s  monthly Mini Unconference  at joykadia Castle will feature:  Annabel Recreant and Konrad March, updating their work on the Virtual Classroom Project (http://jokaydia.wikispaces.com/vcp09 ); Launch of the Annual jokaydia Community Photo Comp;  Skribe Forti, an Australian expert on machinima and video production for the web,  on Video in a Web 2.0 World;  and a visit to Al Lurton’s latest exhibition over at the Kelly Yap Gallery. (Slurl: http://slurl.com/secondlife/jokaydia%20Waters/76/126/44) Further details:  joannamkay@gmail.com.

The SLENZ Update – No 33, December 10, 2008

SLENZ ‘open’ workshop

Registrations Closed December 12: December 15, from 9am to 5pm (New Zealand Time) (SL Time 12 noon – 8 pm December 14) : New Zealand’s leading virtual world learning research group, Second Life Education New Zealand (SLENZ), has invited interested educators to attend a free, one-day workshop in real life on Wellington Institute of Technology’s Wellington campus and in Second Life on the Nelson-Marlborough Institute of Technology’s island of Koru (http://slurl.com/secondlife/Koru/156/122/27). Registration essential on first-come, first-served basis as numbers limited. For registration email: Susan.Jenkins@weltec.ac.nz

OLIVE has a silver lining …

Self-proclaimed  market and technology leader in enterprise virtual world, Forterra Systems, is using the economic downturn and collaboration with IBM, to spruik  its virtual worlds’ experience as being “better” and less costly than conference calling, the mainstay of world business.

Offering innovative collaboration features and IBM Lotus Sametime Integration with its OLIVETM(On-Line Interactive Virtual Environment) 2.2 Release, Forterra Systems plans to ship the new software later this month.

The video demonstration of the new software shows it will be of interest to educators around the world given some of the vagaries of other virtual world systems.

Forterra Systems says the new features have been prompted by feedback from several customers in global organisations and analysts who have noted that virtual meetings in OLIVE are both more engaging and less expensive then traditional Web and audio conference calls.

“The combination of OLIVE’s spatially accurate VoIP-based audio along with several new media-sharing features and Lotus Sametime integration provides the next generation of interactive communications infrastructure,” Forterra says in a press release. (http://www.forterrainc.com/index.php/resources/109-forterra-announces-olive22)

“With the challenging financial times most enterprises are curtailing travel and rethinking how their organisations hold events, training sessions, conduct periodic meetings, or improve their collaboration processes.

“Audio and Web conferencing are inexpensive, ubiquitous, and generally easy to use,” the release says. ” However for meetings involving complex or longer topics the participants can be challenged to grasp the discussion context and maintain focus due to multi-tasking. Virtual meetings in OLIVE are proving to be less expensive yet more engaging and productive for users. Most enterprise-grade teleconferencing systems charge $0.10 to $0.25 per person per minute which can equate to thousands of dollars of expense per employee every year. OLIVE pricing is an order of magnitude less.

“Forterra believes the fastest path for large-scale virtual world adoption within organisations is for 3D meetings to be an easy-to-use extension of the existing unified communications tools employees already use every day. Forterra’s integration of OLIVE with Lotus Sametime is the first robust offering in the market to pursue this strategy. When integrated to Lotus Sametime, immersive 3D environments built with OLIVE provide an interactive communications platform that is unsurpassed for collaboration, training, and knowledge management use cases.”Second Life: ‘Second China’ Offers Foreign Service Workers First Impression

Diplomatic training

chinasl1

Picture courtesy ScienceDaily

United States diplomats or military envoys making their first trip to China may soon have a chance to visit a Chinese office building, stop in at a traditional teahouse or hop a cab – all before they board a plane, according to US web-based publication ScienceDaily (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081029154856.htm)
A team of University of Florida computer engineers and scholars has used the popular online world Second Life to create a virtual Chinese city  for users who want to familiarise themselves with the sights and experiences they will encounter as first-time visitors.

The goal of the federally funded research project is to educate and prepare foreign service or other government professionals to arrive in the country prepared and ready to work, .ScienceDaily reported.

Julie Henderson, an international program specialist at the UF College of Pharmacy and co-principal investigator and project designer for the effort, was quoted by ScienceDaily as saying: “I think what we hope is that this kind of environment can provide a bridge between knowledge alone and actually being in the real-life environment.”

One wonders how long the US’s three-letter agencies have been doing the same thing in Second Life.

Medical  VWs ‘suspend disbelief’

Evaluations of  virtual world simulation exercises for medical trainees  have shown that the trainees themselves find VWs to be adequately realistic to “suspend disbelief,” according to a Stanford University research project entitled, “Simulation for Team Training and Assessment: Case Studies of Online Training with Virtual Worlds.”

The results of the study done by  William LeRoy Heinrichs, Patricia Youngblood and Parvati Dev, Stanford University Medical Media and Information Technologies (SUMMIT),  Phillip M. Harter, Department of Surgery, Division of Emergency Medicine, Stanford University,  were published by The World Journal of Surgery. (http://www.springerlink.com/content/82211030u48h01l5/)

The authors said the trainees quickly learnt to use Internet voice communication and user interface to navigate their online character/avatar to work effectively in a critical care team. surgery

“Our findings demonstrate that these virtual ED environments fulfill their promise of providing repeated practice opportunities in dispersed locations with uncommon, life-threatening trauma cases in a safe, reproducible, flexible setting,” they said.

Earlier in their abstract of their paper they had noted that individuals in clinical training programs concerned with critical medical care must learn to manage clinical cases effectively as a member of a team.

“However, practice on live patients is often unpredictable and frequently repetitive,” they said. “The widely substituted alternative for real patients-high-fidelity, manikin-based simulators (human patient simulator)-are expensive and require trainees to be in the same place at the same time, whereas online computer-based simulations, or virtual worlds, allow simultaneous participation from different locations.”

In the paper they present three virtual world studies for team training and assessment in acute-care medicine: (1) training emergency department (ED) teams to manage individual trauma cases; (2) prehospital and in-hospital disaster preparedness training; (3) training ED and hospital staff to manage mass casualties after chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or explosive incidents.

For the project the  research team created realistic virtual victims of trauma (6 cases), nerve toxin exposure (10 cases), and blast trauma (10 cases); the latter two groups were supported by rules-based, pathophysiologic models of asphyxia and hypovolemia.

Event

December 12, SLtime,  10 am-4:30pm: The Louisiana Invitational Conference, Virtual Worlds in Higher Education presented by the University of New Orleans, Southeastern Louisiana University, Southern University in New Orleans and Tulane University, at The Louisiana Regents Estate in Second Life. Keynote speaker: Jeremy Kemp, instructional designer at San Jose University’s School of Library & Information Science. Other speakers:  Thomas Kohler, of the University of Innsbruck, Joshua Squires, of the University of Georgia, Daniel Livingstone, of the University of West Scotland, and Gwenette Sinclair, of Kennesaw State University. No entrance fee. If you would like to attend the conference, visit http://virtualcampus.uno.edu/ and click “Register.” You will need to provide your name, avatar name, and e-mail.