SLENZ Update, No 151, November 20, 2009

SLENZ PROJECT: Useful lessons

Team debriefed on  unit tour,

presentation techniques …

Learning lesson: part of the Gronstedt ‘Train for Success Group’s tour.

It’s very easy to be wise with hindsight.

That is  not to take anything away from the  outstanding performance of  Otago Polytech tutor and SLENZ Project’s lead educator (Midwifery) Sarah Stewart’s (SL: Petal Stransky) before what she admits now was an unexpectedly large crowd of “experts” for  her early morning (NZ time) presentation and tour of the project’s birthing unit on the SLENZ Project island of Kowhai last week.

Your’s truely, also admits he was a little unprepared as a “helper” being  “invited” to demonstrate his “incompetence” (grin) in the early New Zealand morning after a self-inflicted heavy night of Second Life roleplaying.

Stewart also must be forgiven for her late notice of the Gronstedt ‘Train for Success Group’s tour, because it  had been moved up a week on short notice, following the postponement of another planned presentation. It did not help that  Stewart understandably did not realise the group’s  importance – in an education sense in the world of Second Life – until a few  hours before the meeting, and that she had previously only presented “virtually” to very small groups.

Stewart herself  has commented  usefully on the experience on her blog under the heading,  Learning a few painful lesson about presenting in Second Life

The debriefing at the normal Monday  SLENZ team meeting, however, raised some other important points – albeit many probably not new – which may be useful to others presenting their projects to  tour groups, particularly those composed of  virtual world  aficionados.

The highlights of the debriefing, including additional thoughts I have had since:

  • One must qualify “tour parties” before presentations so that one has an understanding of who they are and what their needs and desires are.
  • At least two people are normally needed for a  successful presentation of this nature  – on voice and monitoring chat, and in an IM link between presenter and helper.  The helper/facilitator should have enough knowledge of the project and the site to be able to answer questions, in text chat if necessary, rather than interrupting the flow of the presenter. It would help if  the helper is given a copy of the briefing paper before the event.
  • The TP area or meetup/holding area where the major voice briefing is being held should be far enough away from the  unit to be toured to prevent contention between  voice  – the tour leader presenting and the helper answering questions –  when the  audience is split into  smaller groups to tour a facility.  If there is a potential for conflict the helper should only answer questions in text chat. If there are two or more parties being shown the facility at the same time, all tour leader briefing should be done in text chat. If there is contention this can cause problems for video/audio recording  and is distracting for the presenter.
  • In facilities  where  the tour has to be conducted in  “tight spaces”  the roof should be able to be lifted off the facility so all the tour members can cam in, especially if they cannot fit inside the space without difficulty.  The  SLENZ birthing unit has this facility  but neither the presenter nor the  helper knew how to activate it.  On tight sites, with   the audience split into a number of tour groups it is also  potentially  worthwhile having the ability to rez a duplicate facility (if the prims are available) so that simultaneous tours out of  voice range of each other can take place.
  • There is a need for an agreed presentation format which both the presenter and the helper/faciliator are able to refer to during the presentation as well as  succinct presentation briefing notecards the audience can pick up  from a notecard-giver on the site and which the presenter alerts them to.
  • If the presentation is to be in voice rather than text the presenter or helper must ask everyone to use headsets or to turn off their talk button because of  feedback echo problems from  both that and from the use of  computer speakers.  The presenter should also use a headset for voice.
  • The presenter and  the helper  involved in the presentation should check voice levels immediately before the event and also make sure they are linked in a private IM window … so they can text to each other privately during the presentation if necessary. (Practice with this  in  presentation mode might be necessary so that the presenter is not distracted by the text). The helper should IM anyone generating echo  and ask them politely to turn off their talk button.
  • The helper must have both sim knowledge and sim land  rights to ensure he  or she can  deal with griefers – this tour attracted one –  and other sim problems which might arise, without disturbing the presenter.

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.”

The SLENZ Update – No 109, July 07, 2009

SLENZ PROGRESS

Otago’s birthing centre pilot

goes live with real students

Birthingcentre070709_001

Open for class…  SLENZ Project lead developer Isa goodman (RL: Aaron Griffiths)
“polishes”  the  Te Wāhi Whānau (The Birth Centre) build before students “arrive”.

Otago Polytechnic and  Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology midwifery students have begun taking part of their midwifery course on the SLENZ Project island  of Kowhai in Second Life.

The 27 Otago Polytechnic and CPIT Year 1 extramural students from Central Otago, Southland, and Nelson/Marlborough, began for the first time on Monday to use  the specially-constructed  Birth Centre (Te Wāhi Whānau) with the help of  qualified midwife facilitators from their home areas to do the “virtual world” portion of their coursea via Broadband from their homes.

The joint co-leader of the SLENZ Project, which has sponsored the pilot programme, Terry Neal, said she was excited that “the real learning” had to begun.

The movement of real life students onto “real learning tasks” within Second Life, she said,  meant an important milestone had been achieved on schedlule by the SLENZ Project which is one year old.

“We will now find out whether the students value the opportunity of being able to learn in a virtual world,” she said. “Later, as part of the evaluation process, we will find out how great the benefits are they receive from this type of learning.”

Lead educator for the pilot Sarah Stewart (SL: Petal Stransky), talking about the first day, noted that  students had had a variety of reactions to their first day, with some having the usual minor difficulties and thus needing help  and others wanting to be left alone to find their own way around.

Sarah quoted one of the students, who had joined the class Facebook group, as saying of her initial experiences, “”I have popped in a couple of times to the birthing unit (after Petal Stransky got me out of the underwater bubble – which I am very grateful for!) and had a look around. Then my hair fell off. “Another student from ChristChurch took me to a shop where I got new hair and I got some proper clothes from the same place rather than my warrior outfit. So far I seem to have spent a lot of time ‘fixing myself up’. Apparently I had elf ears … I am still walking into walls and getting stuck to the ceiling and getting lost. So it’s taking me quite a bit of time to get orientated.”

In another aside, Sarah (Twitter: SarahStewart) said interest in the midwifery pilot had been growing on Twitter, with the pilot YouTube video being passed around.

The innovative pilot programme has been funded by the New Zealand Government’s Tertiary Education Commission as part of a project to determine how multi-user virtual environments (MUVEs) might benefit New Zealand education and how this can best be done.

The project, which has selected midwifery and foundation learning for its two pilot programmes, aims to delineate and demonstrate to New Zealand educators and students the educational strengths or otherwise of learning in a virtual world.

To celebrate the milestone and the first birthday of the project  the SLENZ Project team held a well-attended celebration “party” on the adjacent Nelson-Marlborough Institute of Technology  island of Koru on Sunday night.

korupartI_014Line dancing in celebration …
korupartI_001Toddles Lightworker, with the dragon wings, appears to be directing the dancers.

EVENT

Kiwi Educators Group

to be revitalised

Meanwhile SLENZ Project lead developer Isa Goodman RL: Arron Griffiths) and joint leader Arwenna Stardust (RL: Dr Clare Atkins) are keen to re-vitalise the Kiwi Educators group and in response to popular demand plan to hold regular meetings again.

The duo have issued an invitation to all past and potential members – in fact, anyone with an interest in education in New Zealand – to a meeting on Sunday July 12 from 6pm – 8pm (NZ Time) (Saturday, July 11 11pm-1am SLT) beginning at Kauri Grove, Koru.

The plan is for attendees to gather at 6pm and then visit  the Particle Lab to see the wonderful fireworks display which starts at 6.30pm and runs for an hour before returning to Koru to chat and catch up, and plan for the futureof the organisation.

Birthingcentre070709_002A useful addition to the SLENZ Project build
… “all” the information you need to get started.
Birthingcentre070709_003and the Skill Mastery Hyperdome

􀀁

The SLENZ Update – No 98, June 12, 2009

UIC_001

University of Illinois Global Campus entry point

Do SL public health training

applications really work?

US$1.6m to find the answer

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) School of Public Health have secured a grant of  US$1.6 million to fund a study to determine if collaborative virtual environments designed to improve public health preparedness and response planning really work.

The school which is relying more and more on virtual environments for training and education has received the grant from the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The results should be of interest to health educators worldwide  given the number of Second Life health applications, including New Zealand’s own midwifery pilot study under the auspices of the SLENZ Project and Auckland University’s Second Life and ONGENS  medical centres.

Under the programme, according to  Virtual World News,  UIC researchers will recruit 40 local health departments from across the United States to take part in the study.

Half the participants will use Second Life to train public health workers in emergency preparedness while the other half will use a traditional meeting approach to planning.

The study’s principal investigator Colleen Monahan, director of the Center for the Advancement of Distance Education at the UIC School of Public Health, said, “We believe that using virtual environments will improve collaboration across agencies and jurisdictions, raise awareness about planning for vulnerable populations, increase the realism in the training exercise, allow participants to participate in different scenarios, and allow emergency responders to return to the training exercise at their convenience for ongoing training.”

The SLENZ Update – No 81, May 12, 2009

MIDWIFERY TUTORS ‘ENTHUSIASTIC’

Exciting introduction to SL with bonding  and play

Petal- group with Sarah

Trainers, Dr Clare Atkins and Todd Cochrane with Kate Spencely, Dr Deborah Davis
and Sarah Stuart. (Pictures from Sarah  Stewart)

The importance of a time for “play” when people are initiated into Second Life was reinforced for  the SLENZ Project’s joint leader, Dr Clare Atkins (SL: Arwenna Stardust), when  she led an orientation workshop for a group of mainly SL “newbie”  midwifery educators from Otago Polytech’s  School of Midwifery.

“I learnt again just how important it is to allow people the time and opportunity for play when they first get into Second Life,” she told a SLENZ Project meeting on the Nelson-Marlborough Institute of Technology’s Second Life  island of Koru. “They want to play around with how they look and how they can change themselves and what they can do. I’ll never forget them all doing the chicken dance and laughing (in real life). It was very much about bonding and the creation of confidence.

“… nobody, but nobody, is  not concerned with how they  look,” she said, adding that although there had to be time for “play” the learning process had to be focused and based on a clear structure of what had to be achieved in the time frame.

Atkins, of NMIT, and SLENZ developer Todd Cochrane (SL: Toddles Lightworker), of Weltec, conducted the training session  for the eight educators from Otago and Canterbury midwifery schools, in person, on the Otago campus and on the SLENZ island of Kowhai, in what was both a real life and Second Life “bonding and learning” workshop.

Human nature

Cochrane said, “Working with the midwifery instructors was absolutely fantastic.

“I also I learned a lot about, well, human nature.

“They were completely interested in the way their avatars looked and moved,” he said. “Getting the right clothing and the shape of their avatar’s figures right turned out to be the major activity. I had expected this to take some time but not to the extent that it did.

“I was completely stunned when one pulled out an animation that made her avatar walk , in a more than catwalk manner, and that everyone wanted their avatars to walk that way too.”

The lead educator for the midwifery pilot programme, one of three SLENZ Project pilots, Sarah Stewart (SL: Petal Stransky), said she had been “very encouraged by the enthusiasm” of the educators who attended the two-day workshop.

Noting that some had been apprehensive about the move into virtual worlds, she said, “They were extremely enthusiastic, very reassured and very excited at the end.

“It was good to have it face-to-face. There were some ups and downs during the two days but everyone is now a lot clearer where we are and where we have to go in the next few months.”

Stewart, however, noted that while the majority of participants had found the “play” – trying on new clothes, doing the chicken dance etc – “valuable”, there has been some who had wanted to focus only on what needed to be done and felt they didn’t have time for those sort of things.

SLENZ learning designer Leigh Blackall (SL: Leroy Post), who had a major hand in setting up the training session, said proof of the success or otherwise would be in seeing  if and how the midwives came back to Second Life … “we need to observe these midwives,” he said.

From his point of view, though, the workshop  had been “very successful” and he had enjoyed “watching it from a distance … The fact that the midwives were physically together  might have lifted the spirit. It will be interesting to see if it really does translate into persistent use.”

The pilot is scheduled to put its first  real students into Second Life May 25.

Petal Midwives do the chicken dance

The chicken dance – need for a moment for play in orientation.