Broadband in NZ– VLENZ Update, No 181, March 13, 2011

The  New Zealand Broadband network

Rural Kiwis  probably wont see

‘true’  Broadband  for decades

… will Christchurch quake slow implementation

of 2nd-best  RBI solution

Telecom's Dr Paul Reynolds ... rebuked for honesty.

With the government concentrating on the post earthquake resurrection of Christchurch – and the money needed to rebuild that city – one wonders whether the Rural Broadband Initiative which has been badly fumbled, will quietly fade into the woodwork.

And will  New Zealanders outside the main centres and Telco hubs continue to be left in the 20th Century with less than adequate Broadband?

Of course, it is understandable that the contract, which has been awarded to the old-style,  not-likely- to-deliver the Broadband needed for the nation, Telecom/Vodafone consortium with its outdated backward-looking technology, may  go on the backburner.

But one has to ask is  even  the  out-of-date solution to be thrown out with the demolition rubbish from the Christchurch earthquake.

Not that it really matters I suppose because one has to wonder whether the  Government and its advisers on the RBI  ever really wanted to have a competing future-oriented Broadband network outside the main cities.

‘Marketing carrot’

This was made clear by Telecom chief executive  Paul Reynolds, who earned a rebuke for his honesty from the Government, when he  forecast (before the tender was awarded) that it could take two decades for consumers to upgrade to ultrafast Broadband. Dr Reynolds said, although it is clear the Government intends the network should be completed by 2019, it would take at least as long again for all households to start using it. “Twenty years is the number for the progressive uptake of fibre services,” he said.

His remarks mirrored those of the Telstra-Clear NZ chief executive of a few years ago who  said he saw no need for fast broadband  in New Zealand.

FX Network's Murray Jurgeleit ... RBI future-proof solution rejected.

Despite  remarks like these the  major Telcos are still promoting  and selling Broadband throughout New Zealand  at exorbitant rates which they cannot deliver  at consistent Broadband speeds.

Even Telcom’s latest television promotion for its Broadband service fudges the fact that if you join without contract – a “marketing carrot” – you still have to pay $NZ90 to leave, exactly the same  as you would have had to pay if you had a contract, even if  the organisation cannot deliver consistent Broadband speeds.

The worst part of it is that, as the promotions attract more people to Broadband in provincial NZ,  the more the telcos’ services  degrade, particularly outside the main centres and the less reliable and consistent it gets at times of high bandwidth usage such as school holidays, after school and on wet, miserable winter weekends, the times when the average man, woman and child wants to use it.

The Government did have the option of future-proofing Broadband services for the country but failed to take the chance  apparently accepting the Telecom/Vodafone  solution which basically is slow 3G wireless and fast DSL over copper. This was probably because it was advised by those whose hearts have always been with the big players.

The major alternative was and still is the fibre and 4g wireless solution put forward by FX Networks with Opengate (Kordia & Woosh) which would have delivered much faster Broadband to far more rural users than any alternative.

Simply put  the OpenGate/ FX Networks  solution would have delivered a $NZ285m,  10 Mbps or more Broadband connection to 83 percent of rural New Zealand – a third of the country’s population which generates two-thirds of its export income – for as low as $NZ60 per month, with access from within two years – not six as posed by the Telecom consortium.

‘Choice, innovation, competition’

In a press release last month FX Networks Managing Director Murray Jurgeleit said, “In addition to the low prices, we have proposed to deliver extensive new infrastructure for our rural communities. We are committed to delivering guaranteed performance through the latest technology to put us ahead of our international trading partners.

“We can create an environment of choice, innovation and competition to ensure rural New Zealand is well served in Broadband technology for years to come.”

And Kordia CEO Geoff Hunt  who expressed disappointment at the outcome of the tender process, said that OpenGate would have connected a customer at full speed 40 kms from a wireless site,  a significant advance on what could be achieved with copper.

“The combination of fibre and 4G wireless technology enables us to very quickly deploy high-speed broadband to many more rural Kiwis,” he said.
The OpenGate/FX Networks consortium offer was based on the same advanced technology (4G LTE) that’s being installed in Australia, the US, China and India as an upgrade to aging and congested 3G networks.  Hunt said that this technology meant that any individual tower could be scaled up to deliver more than 1.7 gigabits per second, enabling hundreds of users to have ultra-fast Broadband off a single tower without slowing down service.

Geoff Hunt, Kordia ... an opportunity lost

“They (the Government) say they’re going to a proven technology with copper – it’s so proven that it’s being replaced by fibre everywhere,” said Kordia ceo Geoff Hunt.

“The opportunity to deploy much better broadband has been lost. It is really disappointing,” he said.

He claimed the Government decision, and I agree,  has effectively condemned rural communities to suffering from same old duopoly services that continue to under-deliver and hold rural New Zealand hostage.

“The government had an opportunity through the RBI to provide a technology step-change in services for rural New Zealand that would have laid a future-proof and highly competitive foundation for the next 15 years.

Not an “up-to” speed offer

He pointed out that the OpenGate/FX broadband network would have delivered 100 Mbps to rural schools, 10 – 20 Mbps to 83 percent of rural New Zealanders and an impressive 20+ Mbps to 67 percent of rural Kiwis.
“We can support a lot of people on the internet at these impressive speeds at the same time … we are offering 10 Mbps at better prices than in the cities today – not an “up to” offer,” he said earlier. “New Zealanders are sick and tired of high contention ratios and actual performance that bears no relation to advertised “up to” speeds.

I can concur with that having argued with both Telecom and  Telstra that the speeds they were and are delivering Broadband –  even in provincial centres let alone rural areas – is often more like dial-up than Broadband despite them charging  outlandishly for the service.
The OpenGate/ FX Networks’ infrastructure would have been separate and distinct from the existing copper and 3G networks, and it would have fostered much needed head-to-head competition with the moribund Telcos.

Now sadly it looks as though many of today’s rural New Zealanders probably will not get “real” Broadband at their homes in their lifetimes, even with the latest advances in copper wire technology.

This will only serve to place  rural  residents – adults and students – at an even greater disadvantage to their city cousins in a world where consistent, reliable fast Broadband is becoming a necessity rather than a luxury, especially in the area of distance education.

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SLENZ Update, No 156, December 13, 2009

SLENZ PROJECT

SLENZ in 14  international finalists

for top Edublog 2009 award

Your vote will count! Click Button TOP RIGHT and vote.

The SLENZ (Seoncd Life Education New Zealand) Project team has been  honoured by being named among the 14 finalists  for an EduBlog 2009 Award  in the category, “Best Educational Use of a Virtual World 2009.”

The award is among those which  “celebrate the best educational blogs on the web”.

Although the SLENZ Project originated from an isolated  small country – one might say at the end of the earth – the nomination shows  again that Kiwis can compete on  an even footing with the rest of the world when it comes to internet applications, such as virtual worlds, despite in-country broadband limitations and the “tyranny of distance.”

It demonstrates that virtual worlds can create a world  without borders:  that ordinary New Zealanders – anyone – can collaborate across time zones,  national borders, cultures, ethnicities and languages to provide benefits throughout the world.

Dr Clare Atkins (SL; Arwenna Stardust) (pictured right), the SLENZ Project co-leader said that she was  delighted, when told  of the SLENZ nomination in the final list.

She appealed to readers of  the SLENZ Update: “If you have enjoyed reading the SLENZ blog we are really pleased. We would love it if you felt a strong need to show your appreciation by voting for us.”

The other finalists include prestigious virtual world groups such as:  CANVAS (Children’s Art in the Virtual Arena of Scotland); DEN SL Blog; Edunation; ISTE’s Second Life island; Reaction Grid; School of Nursing, University of Kansas; SIGMS in Second Life;  Sloodle;  The International Schools Island (isi); The UC Davis Virtual Hallucination simulation; Virtual Graduation at the University of Edinburgh; Virtual Macbeth – Angela Thomas; Virtual Round Table Conference.

“For SLENZ to even be listed amongst these groups is absolutely wonderful, ”  SLENZ Update editor/writer, John Waugh (SL: Johnnie Wendt) said. “While I would love for the SLENZ Group to win the award  I am very conscious of the calibre of the other finalists – they are the best in the world from a myriad of educational uses and I have accessed them all.”

He  wished the other finalists luck  and concluded with a call for SLENZ Update readers and their friends to vote for  Second Life Education New Zealand at  Edublog.

The Second Life Education New Zealand Project was funded by the New Government’s Tertiary Education  Commission. It has been designed to determine the benefits of using virtual worlds for education and  how best these benefits can be captured.

The work of the team has been completely “transparent” with all documentation/discussions etc included on this site. The team’s builds and findings  have all be done under Creative Commons attribution, are all OpenSource, and freely available to all educators as “full perms” packages.

SLENZ Update, No 154, December 06, 2009

Where is education going in Virtual Worlds?

An earlier (2008) view of a Duke University  foray into virtual worlds
– just one of  the university’s many virtual projects

With the  Obama Administration  turning to the virtual world to extoll the virtues of a science education through expansion of the STEM Education Initiative and NASA also using virtual worlds to promote engineering education to the next generation of potential NASA employees it seems certain  that educators around the world will not be able to avoid the  MUVE issue although it is  apparent many would wish to.

It  also appears certain that Governments, if they wish to keep abreast of world education trends, can no longer allow their telcos to limit bandwidth or  to  obfuscate the issue of the need for consistent, high speed Broadband  – which New Zealand telcos dont deliver outside  the major centres –  if  all are to benefit from the growing acceptance of virtuality, in all its guises. In future education poverty might be determined by one’s access to Broadband, particularly in the sense of distance education,  as we move away from on-campus learning to virtual campus learning which is available to everyone.

Following President Obama’s announcement early in his term of  initiatives to encourage American students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), the White House now  appears to be moving into the Metaverse in an attempt to expand its  flagging science education initiative, according to  Max Burns (pictured left) of the Washington-based Pixels and Policy  blogs .

Quoting a  press release issued by Duke University, Durham, North Carolina,  in which  the Duke Center announced a partnership with the White House to promote the development of virtual learning worlds related to science and engineering  especially in middle and high school by linking into virtual worlds and the digital generation’s undoubted video-gaming experience, Burns said:

  • The third-annual Digital Media and Learning Competition will award $2 million in support to 21st Century learning lab designers  for learning environments and digital media-based experiences that allow young people to grapple with social challenges through STEM-based activities.
  • Digital media of any type (social networks, games, virtual worlds, mobile devices or others) may be used. Proposals are also encouraged for curricula or other experiences that link or connect to any game, especially but not limited to Sony’s LittleBigPlanet™ on PlayStation®3.

“Lifting American students from the middle to the top of the pack in STEM achievement over the next decade will not be attained by government alone,” said President Obama at the event in late November at which he announced the “Educate to Innovate” campaign. “I applaud the substantial commitments made today by the leaders of companies, universities, foundations, nonprofits and organizations representing millions of scientists, engineers and teachers from across the country.”

KZERO’s current virtual world universe – an ever-increasing population.

Moves cannot be seen in isolation

But the  White House moves cannot be seen in isolation.  The University of Texas has already  announced plans to put all its 16 campuses across the State online in the virtual world of Second Life; The prestigious Australian Film Radio and Television School, based in Sydney, has announced  a Graduate Certificate in Video Games and Virtual Worlds starting next year;  the University of California at Irvine has received a US$100,000 National Science Foundation grant to study World of Warcraft;  the creation of  an US Federal Consortium for Virtual Worlds by the Information Resource Management (IRM) College of the National Defense University, to ‘ prepare leaders to direct the information component of national power by leveraging information and information technology for strategic advantage’; Glasgow’s Caledonian University has become  the first university  in the UK to offer a complete, integrated module on 3D Internet Virtual Worlds, teaching students all components involved in this relatively new branch of internet design and multi media; the Immersive Education Initiative, a 1000-plus  member, non-profit international collaboration of universities, colleges, research institutes, consortia and companies that are working together to define and develop open standards, best practices,platforms, and communities of support for virtual reality and game-based learning and training systems, is growing apace; and closer to home  the New Zealand Tertiary Education Commission’s  NZ$500 000 SLENZ Project to determine the benefits of virtual education  is nearing completion with the formal evaluation process currently taking place;  The University of  Auckland, under the aegis of lecturer Scott Diener has set up a medical centre for training purposes in Second Life; and that university has also seen lecturer Judy Cockeram, gain international recognition for  her virtual architecture study programme which is schedule to accept more than 100 students in the New Year.

But these are not alone.  They  are among  the more than 500  universities and tertiary institutions now in Second Life and other virtual worlds. The launching of both learning and research programmes into  virtual worlds is continuing apace throughout the world, despite  some skepticism  from those who have never been immersed,  who are not  members of the digital generation or not digital migrants. Unfortunately for them virtual worlds, with 690 million participants worldwide, according to the UK-based research organisation KZero, will probably leave them behind as the flotsam and jetsam of  the virtual age.

Probably one of the best recent summations of just where  virtual education in the world is and where it is going   has been given  by Robin Teigland (pictured right), Work Associate Professor in the Center for Strategy and Competitiveness, at  the Stockholm School of Economics,  Stockholm, Sweden.

Her Powerpoint presentation to the Online Education Conference in Berlin on December 2 is well worth taking the time to look at.

And the US National Defense University initiative.

SLENZ Update, No 140, September 28, 2009

THE SLENZ PROJECT

Virtual world makes mastering

interview skills  much easier

… when virtual ‘really feels real’

“Fabulous”,  “amazing” and “fantastic” were only three of the superlatives used by the  more than 20  educators and researchers who toured the SLENZ Project’s two builds on Kowhai  in Second Life and listened to commentary from educators, developers and builders during the  virtual worlds’  prestigious, annual Jokaydia Unconference  on  Sunday.

The superlatives were used  by virtual visitors from around the world to describe  the concepts, designs, the builds and the practises being  used in the the SLENZ Project’s two pilot education programmes,  Foundation Learning (Bridging Education), under lead educator, Merle Lemon (SL: Briarmelle Quintessa), of Manukau Institute of Technology, Auckland,  and Midwifery under lead educator, Sarah Stewart (SL: Petal Stransky), of Otago Polytechnic.

The Jokaydia attendees probably  would have been even more blown away had they   been able to watch the Pooky Media [producer Pooky Amsterdam,  director Russell (Rosco) Boyd]  machinima production  on  Foundation Learning, “Foundation Interviewing in Second Life,”  which was placed on general  release on YouTube later that the day.

Jo Kay, herself, one of Australia’s leading virtual world educators, said of  the video, “Impressive! Congratulations too all involved in the project and the video,” and   SL’s PimPeccable commented,  “Brilliant and professional.”

BirthUnit jokay unconference_019Arwenna Stardust (RL: Dr Clare Atkins) talks to the Unconference visitors.
BirthUnit jokay unconference_015Inside the  Skill Mastery Hyperdome …  demonstrating a “catwalk” rezzed.

The Skill Mastery Hyperdome, the centre of  the foundation learning  “class space”,  is described by PookyMedia in the preamble to the YouTube video, as “a step into the future, an environment in which students can learn, develop and practise skills that will help them progress on their career pathways and achieve their life goals.”

And it obviously is – and eventually, like the Birthing Centre,  will become the SLENZ Project’s “gift” to virtual world education, having been created under Creative Commons attribution license in OpenSource. It is scheduled to be made freely available  with all bells, whistles, scripts and animations in Second Life on completion of the project.

Foundation students who are use the Hyperdrome build are preparing to enter academic and/or training courses as diverse as nursing, teaching, business, police, travel and tourism, IT, engineering, and social work. Foundation Studies provides the basic building blocks and the scaffolding to enable students to enter and succeed in their selected career pathway.

Acitivites provided in this build are designed to enhance communication skills, specifically the skills needed in an interview situation. These students can  select appropriate interview apparel from Rapungakore (“…you have come to the right place”), the clothing store,  which is part of the Hyperdome.

Noting that irrespective of their ultimate career goal all students will need to develop interview skills and strategies,  Merle Lemon,  has pointed out that the hyperdrome environment allows students to experience virtual interviews, to take on the roles of both interviewer and interviewee, and to develop confidence in answering and asking questions in a professional manner.

“The opportunity to rehearse variations of the interview scenario will lead to further enlightenment through reflective evaluation and deliberation on their own behaviour in action,” she said.

The Manukau Institute of Technology  students, whose reactions are canvassed in the video, find that  the Second interviews “really feel real” with one student even worrying that he was being interviewed for a “real job” which he couldn’t accept accept because of his student commitments.

The SLENZ Project is funded by the New Zealand Government”s Tertiary Education Commission.

BirthUnit jokay unconference_011The Unconference participants tour the birth centre.

The SLENZ Update – No 69, April 20, 2009

PERFORMANCE ART

Bridging the  Second Life,

Real Life  divide  …

isabelperf1
Dancing fingers from reality – Butler2 Evelyn (RL: Isabel Valverde) and
Toddles Lightworker (RL: Todd Cochrane) in Second Life.

What are we losing through living more and more encapsulated lives in crowded urban areas, following the consumption driven “modernist-technical” standard of living, becoming disconnected from sensing ourselves, one another and earth’s living-system cycles of which we are and will be always part and dependent on for survival and well-being?

That is the question that Portugals’  Butler2 Evelyn (RL: Isabel Valverde) and Aotearoa-New Zealand’s Toddles Lightworker (RL: Todd Cochrane)  will attempt to answer in SL with the transnational  “Weathering In / Com Tempo: An Intervention towards Participatory Multi-modal Self-organising Inter-corporeal Environments”, in Room E104. Whitireia Community Polytechnic, Wellington, New Zealand, and in Seccond Life, above the SLENZ Project island of Kowhai,  between 10:30 -11:30 am on Friday,  April 24,  New Zealand time.

The event is being staged as part of the  Whitireia learning and teaching conference with the theme of: Engaged Teachers, Engaged Learners: Partnerships for Success. The keynote speaker is Professor Russell Bishop, of Waikato University.

valverdeisabel1

“We lose and suffer in exchange for communication and knowledge gains by using awesome but at the same time restricted, exclusive, unbalanced, un-integrated technology,” Valverde and  Cochrane said in an abstract on what is basically an integrated, interactive, real world/virtual world performance.

“For example, large parts of our lives are spent sitting still with screen, keyboard and mouse,” they said. “”Due to this extreme stillness we do not have truly an embodied, inclusive attitude where the physicality is expanded, not compartmentalised into less-demanding intellectual activity.

Playful interaction

The pair – Valverde (pictured right), of the Institute for Humane Studies and Intelligent Sciences,  Almada, Portugal, and Cochrane (pictured lower right), of the School of Information Technology, Wellington Institute of Technology ,  Petone, New Zealand – will attempt to provide answers in an” immersive embodied environment” where five invited participants  “will playfully interact with one another physically and virtually as hybrid-embodied entities within intelligent, physical and virtual sites”.

The event, Valverde and Cochrane said,  would “capture motion, location and biometric information through non-invasive clothing and motion capture investigating new modes of human-human and human-environment dialog/sociability, by expanding inter-corporeal interactions through non-intrusive non-restrictive technology, adapted to the participants’ way of moving in space”.

“Performing arts’  knowledge directs the work, providing perspectives for example as in: Postuman Embodiment [1], Mobious Strip [2], rhizome body [3], reversibility as described by Merleau Ponty, and distantiation as coined by Bertolt Brecht,” they said. “Environmental, biometric and meteorological data is captured using well understood techniques, for example, motion capture that uses the AR Toolkit as in [4]. We also investigate pragmatic application of self-organising information systems theory [5] to feature recognition from multi-modal data streams and to the automatic determination of system control.

“Weathering In intervenes using cross-disciplinary practice in performing arts and computing engineering with the goal of more inclusive, integrated and connected human-environment (physical and virtualised) hybrid living systems,” they said.img_0503

Valverde  and Cochrane, previously  staged an Emergent Hybrid Performance Environment for Second Life avatars and video-mediated guests, from Kowhai and a physical site in Lisbon where they offered partipants opportunities for converging their physical and virtual possibilities for creative embodied communication.
“We believe Second Life provides the most inclusive, embodied mode of being with people around the world in a free, networked platform,” they said of that performance. “(This) Real Virtual Games Project is interested in questioning and developing more corporeally inclusive physical interfaces for this type of embodied global network mode of communication.”

Performer/choreographer

Isabel Valverde is a performer, interdisciplinary choreographer and researcher originally from Portugal, with a PhD in Dance History and Theory from the University of California, Riverside. Her work was  supported by the Foundation for Science and Technology/PRAXIS XXI (Portugal). Her dissertation is titled “Interfacing Dance and Technology: a theoretical framework for performance in the digital domain”, (publication forthcoming by FCG/FCT). Valverde is continuing her research as a post-doctoral fellow of the EU/FCT, affiliated with the Institute for Humane Studies and Intelligent Sciences, the Visualisation and Intelligent Multimodal Interfaces Group (VIMMI/INESC-ID/IST/UTLisboa), College of Social and Humanities Sciences/UNLisboa, and Lusófona University of Arts and Technologies. She holds an MA in Interdisciplinary Arts from the Inter-Arts Center, San Francisco State University, with a Fulbright/IIE fellowship. Her dance studies include the Licenciatura in Dance from the FMH/UTLisboa, and diploma from the School for New Dance Development/Amsterdamse Hogeschool voor de Kunsten, under the ERASMUS Fellowship Program.

Todd Cochrane, a developer with the SLENZ Project, teaches a range of topics in Wellington Institute of Technology’s  Bachelors, Diploma and Cybertechnology programmes including client-side and server-side scripting (ASP JavaScript), Ecommerce Website Design (DB), Human Computer Interaction, Operating Systems, Software Engineering, Software Quality Assurance, Prototyping, Programming Practice (Visual Basic). He is a polyglot programmer, writing software in a number of imperative/procedural languages (C/C++,Delphi, Visual Basic, JavaScript, Java, Flash ActionScript) as well as being able to produce code in functional (RUFL and Hope+C) and declarative languages (Prolog).  His current research is focused by the development and extension of a visual programming language. He ran Human Computer Interaction using Second Life as the development platform last Trimester and is delivering Computer Systems Architecture in Second Life and Real Life synchronously this trimester. He has become proficient at Second Life development, and Second Life to Real Life crossing. He recently presented Cross-worlds art work , also known as Club Temp, at the International Symposium on Electronic Art  in Singapore.

isabels-beach_007

A stranger on the shore …  part of Isabel Valverde’s beach in the sky
above Kowhai, with a visitor.
[References: 1.Hayles, N. K, How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatic, The Univ. of Chicago Press: Chicago and London,(1999); 2. Grosz,E. A.,Volatile Bodies: Toward a Corporeal Feminism. Indiana University Press (1994); 3. Deleuze, Gilles, and Felix Guattari A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Trans. Brian Massumi, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press (1987); 4. Sementille, A. C., Lourenço, L. E., Brega, J. R., and Rodello, I. A motion capture system using passive markers. In Proceedings of the 2004 ACM SIGGRAPH international Conference on Virtual Reality Continuum and Its Applications in industry (Singapore, June 16 – 18, 2004). VRCAI ´04. ACM, New York, NY, USA, 440-447 (2004); 5.Haken, H. Information and Self-Organization A Macroscopic Approach to Complex Systems 3rd Edition. Springer Series in Synergetics , Springer Berlin, Germany (2006). Note the abstract was accepted by HCii2009 as a poster]

The SLENZ Update – No 1 August 1, 2008

NZ Educators ‘invited’

New Zealand educators – and their adult students – will soon be able to “live and learn” in a virtual 3D world.

The New Zealand virtual world education group, Second Life Education New Zealand (SLENZ), is to invite groups of New Zealand educators to join its research project in the on-line virtual world of Second Life in September.

Funded by the New Zealand Tertiary Education Commission the research project, which has been set up to learn how multi-user virtual environments might be used to improve student learning, has already attracted considerable interest from educators.

Using the multi-user virtual environment Second Life, the project aims to delineate and demonstrate to New Zealand educators and students the educational strengths of learning in a virtual world.

“Multi-user virtual environments, in which individuals create avatars, digital representations of themselves to ‘live’ in a 3D virtual ‘world’, are offering a revolutionary view of how individuals and educational communities may interact and learn in the future,” joint leader Terry Neal said of the recently launched project.

Originating from multi-user online games, the virtual landscapes created in virtual worlds like Second Life, are already natural playgrounds for many younger, adult learners.

Joint leader Dr Clare Atkins said that virtual world environments are considered, anecdotally, to have a number of strengths which differentiate them from other online learning environments.

These include the increased engagement of learners with a familiar game-like environment where learning may intentionally be a product of serious ‘play’ ; the ability to create experiential learning situations not available in “real life”; the opportunity to learn the skills necessary to operate socially, technically and ethically in an online global virtual world; and also the opportunity to experience and practice collaborative, cross-cultural problem solving in social networking environments.

“These multi-user virtual environments offer the opportunity to provide innovative delivery to New Zealand learners and to encourage collaborative development and the sharing of learning resources,” Dr Atkins said.

The project team plans to invite applications from groups of educators to work with the project team next month.

“We are not looking for individuals or groups that already have Second Life experience, although this would be an advantage,” Ms Neal said. “We are looking for enthusiasm to explore the new opportunities collaboratively.”

The project team, she said, would provide support “every step of the way” with funding available to release a participant in each group from some teaching responsibilities so they can commit themselves to the project as well as travel costs associated with the training.

Educators wishing to pursue the possibilities of education Second Life should contact either clare.atkins@nmit.ac.nz or Terry Neal at terry.neal@blendedsolutions.co.nz to express interest.

If you have any questions Terry can be phoned on 04 233 2587.