Using Second Life Avatars and Machinima to Introduce Sustainability into the University Curriculum: Evidence from Two Funded Pro-Environmental Behaviour Studies.
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Using Second Life Avatars and Machinima to Introduce Sustainability into the University Curriculum: Evidence from Two Funded Pro-Environmental Behaviour Studies.

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A conference presentation by Dr Simon Bignell (Avatar Milton Broome): ...

A conference presentation by Dr Simon Bignell (Avatar Milton Broome):
Using Second Life Avatars and Machinima to Introduce Sustainability into the University Curriculum: Evidence from Two Funded Pro-Environmental Behaviour Studies.

In 2011 the Higher Education Academy (HEA) in the UK funded seven projects to look at Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in the Professional Curriculum. Cyberspace technologies featured strongly in utilising a wide range of professionally-accredited undergraduate degrees to explore the ways in which interdisciplinary awareness of sustainability issues is encouraged or prevented by professional requirements. The first project reported here “Problem-based Learning in Virtual Interactive Educational Worlds for Sustainable Development” (PREVIEW-Sustain) exploited the distinctive properties Second Life by using problem-based teaching methods with digital avatars in (the virtual) world.

In a previous JISC-funded project led by the author with Aston University and the ‘HEA Psychology Network’ we previously validated, transferred and disseminated immersive cyber-activities and materials adapted from Coventry University’s Second Life ‘PREVIEW’ project for use in mental health awareness and Psychology teaching. The follow-on PREVIEW-Sustain project reused and transferred these teaching methods to introduce Sustainability education to academic staff and students across two university subject groups (Psychology and Geography) by using customised online problem-based scenarios.


This presentation reports the virtual world methods developed and redeployed for the Sustainability agenda. The work existed entirely in the online virtual world populated by highly personalised 3D digital avatars. We conducted a series of learning scenarios with University staff and students highlighting motivational and behavioural factors that impact on real-world environmental sustainability (e.g., resources, recycling and energy efficiency). These materials are available to the wider teaching community. The project’s ‘virtual’ infrastructure is in place within the virtual world Second Life.

The online videos of the Second Life avatar interactions we developed, to further engage the community, later provided the basis for a follow-on research project which will also be reported here. We used filmed avatar interactions to assess changes in real world pro-environmental behaviour. We embed these videos in the University’s online teaching ‘virtual Learning Environment’ and assessed students before and after exposure to the environmental messages in the machinima.

Innovative cyberspace teaching and learning techniques offer flexible, cost-effective and rapidly deployed Higher Education solutions. Further research using similar virtual world techniques is planned that will explore Disability Awareness.

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  • Slide 1: Hello welcome and thanks for being here. I am Milton Broome in Second Life and in the‘real world’ Dr Simon Bignell from Derby University, UK. Slide 1:My talk is titled Using Second Life Avatars and Machinima to Introduce Sustainability into the University Curriculum. Slide 1:I will talk for no longer than 45 minutes and hopefully finish sooner with time for questions. However, if you have questions throughout please ask using TEXT IN CHAT as we go. Slide 1:A Video Playlist of related videos is available on You tube: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLX4ftfKp-z4EAKaTUO9ALkvbbjCTYJj0G.
  • Slide 2: HEFCE updated their strategy which provided a kick for getting SD ‘Sustainable Development’ into the curriculum..
  • Slide 3: There’s a good justification for doing research at University on SD because it’s the ’Decade of ESD’..
  • Slide 4: There’s been many high level calls for action on promoting ESD in the University curriculum. .
  • Slide 5: Many Universities are ‘upping’ their game on Sustainability..
  • Slide 6: I’ve been in SL since 2006 and am deeply interested in finding ways to intergrate SL with ESD and Psychology..
  • Slide 7: SL is ideal for customising avatars and rapidly prototyping spaces for ‘proof of concept’.
  • Slide 8: We started with beautiful learning spaces.Slide 8: But they were not functional..
  • Slide 9:Then we integrated functionality into the space. Providing a purpose for our students to visit on their own time..
  • Slide 10: A variety of methods were used..
  • Slide 11: We ran live simulated lectures. (with students as 2ft bunnies sometimes!).
  • Slide 12: We asked “What would the ideal learning space look like?”Slide 12: We stripped it all back to the basics ‘SLABS’ 100 virtual metres up in the air..
  • Slide 13: We had to put up a barrier as students fell to their virtual death.Slide 13: We used schematic representations of Psychology Lab reports. Which worked well and was different.Slide 13: We got a positive student response..
  • Slide 14: We also built simulations. Here’s a video of Neonatal Unit (1m16s): http://youtu.be/sEd9s0toHuk to look at later..
  • Slide 15: We were funded by JISC. A project webpage is here: http://previewpsych.org/ ..
  • Slide 16: We built a problem-based learning environment within SL..
  • Slide 17: Static (prim) avatars were scripted to interact with each other and the students followed the evolving storyline in groups with different roles and tasks..
  • Slide 18: A good student response..
  • Slide 19: A ‘Best Practices in Virtual Worlds Teaching’ guide was produced. Slide 19:It’s a guide to using problem-based learning in Second Life.Slide 19:It can be download here:http://previewpsych.org/BPD2.0.pdf ..
  • Slide 20: Definitions of sustainable development exist. Education is critical..
  • Slide 21: Two funded projects looked at Education for Sustainable Development.Slide 21: One using problem-based learning, the other using Machinima of the same scenarios..
  • Slide 22: We asked “What is Suastainability?” and focused on three areas..
  • Slide 23: Resources. AnExample project video is here (3m20s)http://youtu.be/N_0FNyUX1Uo ..
  • Slide 24: Recycling:. AProject video (2m26s): http://youtu.be/i4FOB6Yf_HQ is here..
  • Slide 25: Energy Efficiency. AnExample project video (2m20s): http://youtu.be/EusqbduUejg ..
  • Slide 26: Different methods were used..
  • Slide 28: A recourse is here. Emerging Practice in a Digital Age JISC VIDEOhttp://www.jisc.ac.uk/emergeresource ..
  • Slide 29: Please come and visit our virtual campus..
  • Slide 30: A book chapter is also available where we flesh out the theory alongside the practical techniques..
  • Slide 31: THANK YOU. Here are my details..

Using Second Life Avatars and Machinima to Introduce Sustainability into the University Curriculum: Evidence from Two Funded Pro-Environmental Behaviour Studies. Using Second Life Avatars and Machinima to Introduce Sustainability into the University Curriculum: Evidence from Two Funded Pro-Environmental Behaviour Studies. Presentation Transcript

  • Simon Bignell, Ph.D. (SL: Milton Broome) (Lecturer in Psychology, University of Derby, UK) VWBPE Conference, Friday July 26th 2013, 8.05am PDT, Second Life Using Second Life Avatars and Machinima to Introduce Sustainability into the University Curriculum
  • VWBPE Conference, Friday July 26th 2013, 8.05am PDT, Second Life 2 / 31 Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) • In 2009 updated their strategic statement and action plan – Sustainable Development in HE. • “Sustainable development principles must lie at the core of the education system, such that schools, colleges and universities become show cases for sustainable development among the communities that they serve.”
  • VWBPE Conference, Friday July 26th 2013, 8.05am PDT, Second Life 3 / 31 United Nations (UN) • 2005-2014 the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development. • Goal – to integrate the principles, values and practices of sustainable development into all aspects of education and learning.
  • VWBPE Conference, Friday July 26th 2013, 8.05am PDT, Second Life 4 / 31 Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) • All graduates should have knowledge of sustainable development. • Many will be leaders in the future. • Jonathon Porritt (Chancellor of Keele University, UK). • “Universities are uniquely placed.” • “About…Campus, community and curriculum.” • “Preparing students for the work of the world not just the world of work”.
  • VWBPE Conference, Friday July 26th 2013, 8.05am PDT, Second Life 5 / 31 Who is doing what in the UK? • Keele – embedded, 2011 opened a sustainability hub with £3.4 million funding. • Gloucester – embedded, all students experience it, “Sustainability in their DNA”. • Bradford - £3.1 million funding, achieving change through – curricula, volunteering, learning from corporate practice on campus. • Plymouth – national and international impact via the Centre for Sustainable Futures. 4C approach: curriculum, campus change, community engagement – culture.
  • VWBPE Conference, Friday July 26th 2013, 8.05am PDT, Second Life 6 / 31
  • VWBPE Conference, Friday July 26th 2013, 8.05am PDT, Second Life 7 / 31
  • VWBPE Conference, Friday July 26th 2013, 8.05am PDT, Second Life 8 / 31
  • VWBPE Conference, Friday July 26th 2013, 8.05am PDT, Second Life 9 / 31
  • VWBPE Conference, Friday July 26th 2013, 8.05am PDT, Second Life 10 / 31
  • VWBPE Conference, Friday July 26th 2013, 8.05am PDT, Second Life 11 / 31 Photo of Virtual Lecture
  • VWBPE Conference, Friday July 26th 2013, 8.05am PDT, Second Life 12 / 31
  • VWBPE Conference, Friday July 26th 2013, 8.05am PDT, Second Life 13 / 31
  • VWBPE Conference, Friday July 26th 2013, 8.05am PDT, Second Life 14 / 31 Virtual Neonatal Ward: for a Developmental Psychology Module at University of Derby Video of Neonatal Unit (1m16s): http://youtu.be/sEd9s0toHuk
  • VWBPE Conference, Friday July 26th 2013, 8.05am PDT, Second Life 15 / 31 Project webpage: http://previewpsych.org/
  • VWBPE Conference, Friday July 26th 2013, 8.05am PDT, Second Life 16 / 31
  • VWBPE Conference, Friday July 26th 2013, 8.05am PDT, Second Life 17 / 31
  • VWBPE Conference, Friday July 26th 2013, 8.05am PDT, Second Life 18 / 31 “We worked as a team... this seemed much more valuable than just writing an essay or having a discussion.” “I was thinking more about the real life Psychology because the avatars represented real people with real psychological problems.” “...the content was easy to access and the tasks very enjoyable.”
  • VWBPE Conference, Friday July 26th 2013, 8.05am PDT, Second Life 19 / 31 Best Practices Document Best Practices in Virtual Worlds Teaching: A guide to using problem-based learning in Second Life
  • VWBPE Conference, Friday July 26th 2013, 8.05am PDT, Second Life 20 / 31 Education for Sustainable Development • Brundtland Commission: ES is –“…development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” • Education is the means through which sustainable development can be achieved. UNESCO
  • VWBPE Conference, Friday July 26th 2013, 8.05am PDT, Second Life 21 / 31 • Two Sustainability / TEL Projects: – With Rosemary Horry (Environmental Sciences) funded by the Higher Education Academy. – With Zaheer Hussain (Psychology) funded by the Higher Education Academy Psychology Network. • Evaluated different methods of embedding ESD in the curriculum. • Used Second Life to rate people’s pro-environmental behaviour and attitudes to ‘green’ issues such as recycling, energy use and resources. • Participants reported more pro-environmental behaviour a week after seeing the videos.
  • VWBPE Conference, Friday July 26th 2013, 8.05am PDT, Second Life 22 / 31 • In the problem-based learning scenarios we used programmed avatar interactions to lead the students to ask the question of ‘what is Sustainability?’ • The scenarios had some concrete examples from a contemporary lifestyle perspective. • We constructed a series of learning scenarios for staff and students that highlighted the motivational and behavioural factors that impact on sustainability (e.g. resources, recycling and energy efficiency).
  • VWBPE Conference, Friday July 26th 2013, 8.05am PDT, Second Life 23 / 31 • Scenario 1. Resources: Small groups of students find out who has been using the most water in the virtual household and why, by interacting with the avatars and each other. • Issues such as beliefs and behaviour about showers vs. bathing, washing the car and using the dishwasher were explored along with wider issues of sustainability of resources. • Example project video (3m20s): http://youtu.be/N_0FNyUX1Uo
  • VWBPE Conference, Friday July 26th 2013, 8.05am PDT, Second Life 24 / 31 • Scenario 2. Recycling: Students are tasked to establish what the issues are with one particular member of the family who is refusing to engage in pro- environmental behaviour. • Issues such as beliefs about recycling paper, card and metal were explored in an attempt to find out why they think recycling is a good idea but nevertheless fail to engage in these activities. Project video (2m26s): http://youtu.be/i4FOB6Yf_HQ
  • VWBPE Conference, Friday July 26th 2013, 8.05am PDT, Second Life 25 / 31 • Scenario 3. Energy Efficiency: Students worked in teams to answer questions about home energy use (e.g., leaving things on standby), replacing light bulbs with low wattage equivalents, whether using a microwave is better than the oven or the energy consumption of a washing machine at 30°C rather than 40°C. Example project video (2m20s): http://youtu.be/EusqbduUejg
  • VWBPE Conference, Friday July 26th 2013, 8.05am PDT, Second Life 26 / 31
  • VWBPE Conference, Friday July 26th 2013, 8.05am PDT, Second Life 27 / 31 Educational Visual Storylines – ‘Teaching Cartoons’ • Uses a virtual world to create educational cartoons for teaching and online learning. • Rapidly develop and deploy to modules. • Import straight into our virtual learning platform. • Summaries: Not dumbed down.
  • VWBPE Conference, Friday July 26th 2013, 8.05am PDT, Second Life 28 / 31 ‘JISC - Moving into Virtual Worlds - Emerging Practice in a Digital Age’ • With Aston University • JISC resources feature commentary and reflection on pedagogical applications of virtual worlds. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2aTvE2OBQHc Emerging Practice in a Digital Age JISC VIDEO http://www.jisc.ac.uk/emergeresource
  • VWBPE Conference, Friday July 26th 2013, 8.05am PDT, Second Life 29 / 31 How to visit the University of Derby Second Life Islands: 1) Create and avatar: http://tinyurl.com/GETAN-AVATAR 2) Install Second Life: http://tinyurl.com/Download-SL 3) Teleport to us: http://tinyurl.com/DERBYSECONDLIFE Virtual Campus Flythrough (1m6s): http://youtu.be/GQnyb87Zj0o
  • VWBPE Conference, Friday July 26th 2013, 8.05am PDT, Second Life 30 / 31 Using problem-based learning within 3D virtual worlds – Published book chapter in with Dr Vanessa Parson (Sunderland University, Previously at Aston). • Parson, V. & Bignell, S. (2011). in Hinrichs, R and Wankel, C (Eds), Transforming Virtual World Learning: Cutting-edge technologies in higher education, Vol. 4, pp. 245–265. Emerald Group Publishing Limited: Teynampet, India. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Transforming-Learning-Cutting-edge- Technologies-Education/dp/1780520522
  • VWBPE Conference, Friday July 26th 2013, 8.05am PDT, Second Life 31 / 31 Contact Dr Simon Bignell Centre for Psychological Research University of Derby, UK s.bignell@derby.ac.uk +44 (0)1332 593043 (ext: 3043) www.MiltonBroome.com www.PREVIEWPsych.org