This is my avatar, Robin Mochi in Second Life (SL), aka Robin Ashford, Reference & Distance Services Librarian from George Fox University, Portland Center, Portland, Oregon, USA. I began my part-time grant funded position as the Consumer Health Librarian on Karuna Island in May 2009. The grant ends on April 1, 2010. In this presentation I'll share this remarkable experience in pictures and text. My hope is to also provide understanding to those who are not familiar with the work and activities that take place in SL and other virtual worlds. (Avatars in SL can touch (click) the sign shown here and are then provided a notecard with details of this NLM grant funded project.)
What is Second Life - Second Life ( SL ) is a virtual world developed by Linden Lab, launched on June 23, 2003. There were 18 Million registered accounts as of January 2010 of which there are approximately 1, 400, 000 active users (logged in last 60 days) - Concurrent users are averaging approximately 70K at this time.
In April 2009 I learned of the request for RFQs and submitted my application. A few days later I received notification of an interview date and was provided details of a required presentation to take place before a panel in Second Life. After shopping for a new suit for my avatar, I prepared my presentation. A couple of days after my presentation and interview, I was offered the position of Karuna Consumer Health Librarian. I was honored and humbled to be offered and accepted the position. This would be the continuation of an experiential learning journey that began when I first became a SL resident in 6/2006.
This is a current (Jan 2010) snapshot of a section of Karuna Island – The Karuna Resource Center (RC), my primary work space, is the dark mahogany building on the far left and the Karuna Community Center is to the right – There are six other main areas of the island where various activities take place. My role as the Consumer Health Librarian was primarily related to the HIV/AIDS education compontent of the project, which involved some outreach as well. Jena Ball (aka SL Jenaia Morane), a talented educator/writer/creative genius type, was hired as Project Coordinator of the island.
A closer shot of the Karuna Resource Center, my primary work space, as the Karuna Island Consumer Health Librarian. There are two rooftops, on one there are trees, grass, bean-bag chairs and a very nice YouTube player. The other side of the roof is kept empty and used at times for large temporary exhibits that won't fit inside the building.
We’ll step inside in a moment, but first let’s look at some of the project objectives…
Listed are project objectives – Accomplishment/Outcomes were dictated by the RFQ for each project objective.
This is the Karuna RC front deck, with someone asking me what it is I do here, I imagine you may be wondering the same thing. Let's head inside and I'll show you some of my work...
Welcome to the Karuna Resource Center. I list two set hours of live reference help on the desk sign, though I can be contacted at any time by clicking on the bright green ball on the desk. If I'm anywhere in Second Life, I am notified that someone is paging me from this location and can teleport over in two seconds. If I'm not in SL the page is automatically sent to my email. The rest of my 10 hr. per week contract is flexible time spent researching new content, working in the RC uploading information resources and creating displays. putting together presentations, coordinating with our partners, giving presentations and tours, etc. I rarely worked only 10 hrs. It simply wasn't possible to do a quality job in that amount of time, especially during the first few months, which were spent learning about government resources, building displays, uploading content, meeting with partners, etc.
Here you can see some of the basic layout of the Karuna Resource Center main floor. There are three outside decks- two are off the back side of the building and one off the front. There is also an upstairs room (and deck) which is used to showcase the IBM World Community Grid FightAIDS@Home Project. I'll share more about that in a bit.
This is a typical interaction. A professor stopped by to talk and we arranged for a tour with his class. In this case, the class would visit &quot;over his shoulder&quot; so to speak. The prof, who regularly spends time in SL, will introduce his students to SL and the Karuna RC via a projector in his classroom during class. Here you can see types of resources I used in the center and the displays. Each display item is clickable and when touched either gives out a notecard to read and keep with further information or the url to the website where the information is found. The websites open in an inworld browser and there is an option to open in your external browser to return to later.
This short video shows two common ways content is accessed and provided but there are others such as PowerPoint type viewers which I often used for presentations and afterward were kept in the Center for reference. There are also more immersive ways of interacting with content on other parts of the Karuna island. Led by the amazing work of the Karuna Project coordinator, Jena Ball, (SL Jenaia Morane) and her partner, SL Marty Snowpaw (Marty Keltz), these two visionaries behind the Virtual Worlds Story Project show us other ways people learn to better understand HIV/AIDS - through the power of story. Take a look at the YouTube video of The Life and Times of Uncle D for an example of an immersive and engaging learning experience created by this talented team of educators.
Here I’m answering questions after students finished touring the building, soon all will have a seat by the fire to further discuss.
Question and answer time after students finished touring the building. I also wrote a blog post after this particular tour.
How people choose to communicate in SL can partly be related to how well they know the person they are speaking with and how much of themselves they choose to reveal. Some people choose to never use voice in SL because they prefer to keep certain aspects of their identity private.
The presentation the visitor is standing in front of on this slide is a PowerPoint viewer that had been recently used in a live presentation I'd given in the Karuna RC that week. It covered the newly released W.H.O and UNAIDS report on the global AIDS epidemic. The avatar is able to click through and view each slide or skip slides and jump to other parts of the presentation, it works surprisingly well. Other similar viewers from past presentations exist in the RC as well, including my very first presentation, which was on ways to search MedlinePlus for HIV/AIDS information. The red and white ball in the middle of this snapshot when touched/clicked by an avatar provides the 100 plus page pdf of the W.H.O / UNAIDS report itself which the visitor may open in their external web browser to read or print off later.
You never know who will attend a presentation in Second Life. Due to a communication error on my part, there was only 5 min. notice before this presentation took place, which was sent out to a group in SL via a type of group instant message. There were five complete strangers from around the world who quickly appeared for the presentation. They were mainly academics who were quite knowledgeable and interested in the state of the global HIV/AIDS epidemic. There was a fair amount of sharing of additional information that took place amongst everyone. I find that to be one of the more rewarding aspects of SL. You never know who will show up, what they will share and who you and others may meet and connect with. Posterous blog post announcing this presentation: http://tinyurl.com/ydy4dde
I was also teaching as an adjunct instructor for my university's School of Education during Spring 2009 semester and had my students tour the Karuna RC as well. Great Q&A time afterward. After that tour, a couple of students from my class regularly visited while I was working on Karuna, which was always nice.
Here are a few more snapshots of some of the interesting people who wandered into the Karuna RC during my live reference desk shifts.
Information Literacy Week in Second Life took place in November 2009. Sheila Webber, aka SL Sheila Yoshikawa is an academic from the University of Sheffield and the founder of Infolit iSchool Island in SL. Sheila has done amazing work in SL with a focus on information literacy. She is someone known to bring this global community of educators together. This was my largest undertaking next to my work for World AIDS Day. I'm proud to have been a part of Information Literacy Week in SL and look forward to further collaborations with Sheila and others interested in this important global topic. Again, this is a screen shot of my posterous post from the night before my Information Literacy event for HIV Testing on the Karuna RC rooftop. The SCONUL 7 Pillars of Information Literacy Model is used to address the information need related to HIV testing.
This information literacy event and others held in various SL locations throughout the week were well attended by visitors from around the globe - thanks to University of Sheffield academic, Sheila Webber, aka SL Sheila Yoshikawa for taking the lead and creating a way for an international audience to work together to address this important topic.
To learn more about World AIDS Day and Karuna’s partners see this official Linden Lab post by Pathfinder Linden, &quot; World AIDS Day in Second Life - December 1st &quot;
Jenaia Morane, Karuna Project Coordinator, and I are meeting here with &quot;Toxie,&quot; ( of Tox Town fame, for those of you who are familiar with that), our representative from the National Library of Medicine. I also met with Toxie when I first accepted the position of Karuna Consumer Health Librarian and he provided two of my larger resources to get me started in the Resource Center.
One of my greatest challenges - Our AIDS.gov rep asked for a photo booth to replicate what they were doing in the real world for their World AIDS Day Facing AIDS Campaign . I told her I would do my best, took a close look at the campaign and started working. Having only novice level building and scripting skills, this stretched me quite a bit. And though time consuming, this project ended up being another great learning experience and confidence booster as well. I was very pleased to see the good turnout here on World AIDS Day.
Before each major event I created a sign to place out front to point visitors to the area where the event would take place.
World AIDS Day Facing AIDS Campaign - We were busy for two hours straight, I had planned to leave the AIDS.gov rep I trained alone to handle this after the first hour but could not as there were too many visitors. A good problem to have. Here is my blog post which includes additional snapshots of this successful event.
I enjoyed setting up for this presentation by IBM representatives on The IBM World Community Grid FightAIDS@Home project. The week before the presentation I was sent a PowerPoint presentation via email from their representative in Australia, who also happens to be one of our Karuna Island partners. I uploaded that presentation into the viewer you see on the rooftop here and also loaded a short YouTube video on the project into our YouTube player. Several IBM employees from around the globe were in attendance on World AIDS Day along with visitors on the island for the WAD ongoing events.
A rather techie international group in attendance with interesting discussion time. Another successful World AIDS Day presentation – Afterward I gave a tour of the Karuna Resouce Center and the upstairs room filled with a World Community Grid exhibit. All seemed to enjoy and IBM seemed pleased to see their content represented on Karuna in SL.
This project is a favorite of mine and I joined the World Community Grid to donate my idle computer time for research after I first learned about it while meeting and working with our Karuna IBM representative. I believe strongly in the work IBM is doing to further research by using idle computer time. Please take a close look at their project and consider participating. Remember to learn more about this project click this link to the IBM World Community Grid and FightAIDS@Home Project .
The release of the new SL Viewer 2.0 should make a difference as far as the learning curve goes, and since it has recently been released in beta, it is on the way. The hardware/bandwidth requirements are still problematic for many. I'm hopeful that Linden Lab is working on a lighter version. As challenges are addressed the number of concurrent users should rise.
There are many benefits and considerable potential. K-Zero, a research firm based in the UK that focuses on virtual worlds, has forecast that virtual worlds will continue to grow and develop with approximately 900 such platforms being available to the public by 2012. According to K-Zero , as of Q4 2009, there are 803 million registered accounts in approximately 400 virtual worlds.
It's been an amazing experience. The grant ends on April 1, 2010 and I will truly miss working in this position. I learned much more than I anticipated. I'll continue to learn about virtual worlds, and hope to explore more opportunities to serve and contribute in meaningful ways. Additional posterous blog posts with my &quot;Consumer Health Librarian &quot; tag
A Consumer Health Librarian’s National Library of Medicine Funded Project in Second Life® Robin Ashford (aka SL Robin Mochi) - May 2009-April 2010
First - What is Second Life ? – The Internets largest user created, 3D virtual world community – It’s not a game
Abstract of the Project - The Alliance Library System is requesting RFQs from qualified firms or individuals with Masters of Library Science Degrees, experience with medical/consumer health information, an up-to-date awareness of consumer health resources, and experience in the virtual world of Second Life managing events and creating displays to coordinate the HIV/AIDS Grant Project (Karuna)
Responded to the above request for RFQ, interviewed and presented before a panel in Second Life, offered and accepted the position of Karuna Island Consumer Health Librarian in May 2009
Karuna Island - Dedicated to HIV/AIDS education, outreach and support, and funded by the National Library of Medicine, with the support of the Alliance Library System
The Karuna Resource Center (RC) - My primary work location as the Karuna Consumer Health Librarian
The Karuna Resource Center Entrance - We'll step inside in a moment but first let's look at some of the project objectives...
To develop and compile quality resources in a library (Karuna Resource Center) on AIDS/HIV
To train AIDS/HIV patients, their families, and others on how to search for quality information on all aspects of the disease
To provide informational displays on AIDS/HIV
To increase awareness of NLM resources on AIDS/HIV
To collaborate with other AIDS/HIV and health information agencies to provide quality health information
Provided with a new building, I filled it with relevant and timely content (mainly information resources from government agencies such as AIDS.gov, CDC, NLM, etc.), created a comfortable place to meet and share, give presentations, collaborate with others and more Visitor asking "what exactly do I do in this position?" - Let's head inside and I'll show you some of my work...
Displays shown here are all "clickable" and when touched either give out an information notecard or open up the website in an "in-world" web browser, which can also be opened in an external browser for later reference. Let me show you what I mean... Speaking with a professor from Puerto Rico and arranging to meet the next week with his class
A 23 sec. video demonstrating how some content is accessed in the Karuna Resource Center http:// www.youtube.com/watch?v =rPSsLFFTH6M
Providing Tours - Professor Diane Nahl and her class from the University of Hawaii at Manoa LIS Program tour the Center After students finished touring we headed over to the fireplace for a time of questions and answers...
University of Hawaii student discussion and Q&A time after tour See blog post for further information and pics on this visit: http://tinyurl.com/n2tsc9
Seated comfortably or standing, we converse using voice or text chat (in private or public mode), usually whichever the visitor prefers (though public text chat is typically the default)
Visitor asking questions about the World Health Organization HIV/AIDS display and report Posterous blog post on display: http://tinyurl.com/yd36vxk
My presentation on the World Health Organization and UNAIDS Global summary of the AIDS epidemic After the presentation two visitors remained and we continued our discussion - Eventually I had to leave and bid them good day, or in the case of the one chap from Finland, good night (a global audience for small and large events/presentations is a common experience in SL)
George Fox University Graduate School of Education class tours Karuna RC - Discussion and Q&A time after tour
Events - International Information Literacy Week in Second Life, November 2009 Karuna Resource Center Rooftop Exhibit - Information Need: HIV Testing Above is a screen-shot of my posterous blog post on this event which includes 10 pics of my exhibit and can be found: http://tinyurl.com/ya6t8to
A Successful Event - Thanks much to Sheila Webber-SL Sheila Yoshikawa ! Information Literacy cont.
Planning for World AIDS Day, Dec 2009 - Karuna Partners: IBM, RTI International., AIDS.gov, NLM and more
Karuna Project Coordinator and myself meeting with our National Library of Medicine rep to discuss World AIDS Day
Creating AIDS.gov Facing AIDS Campaign exhibit for World AIDS Day on back deck of the Karuna Resouce Center
Sign placed at the Karuna RC entrance pointing visitors to the back deck Facing AIDS exhibit on World AIDS Day
Facing AIDS - AIDS.gov representative and visitors World AIDS Day - Dec 1, 2009 Blog post on this event: http://tinyurl.com/ygwoug5
Preparing for World AIDS Day - World Community Grid [email_address] presentation on Karuna RC Rooftop
IBM representative presenting on the World Community Grid on the Karuna RC rooftop on World AIDS Day
IBM World Community Grid FightAIDS@Home Exhibit - 2nd Floor
The learning curve in Second Life (SL) is steep (not necessarily difficult to learn but many feel it's too time consuming)
Hardware & bandwidth requirements limit access for many
SL needs a higher number of active users for some people and businesses to be able to offer live services - as the two challenges above are addressed, there should be growth
As numbers of concurrent users grow and more synchronous events and activities take place, additional technical problems are often experienced related to "lag" (the condition of slowness and poor computer performance - this can be caused by the server, your internet connection, or the objects, scripts and activities of others around you in SL), which can lead to an inferior and at times frustrating experience
Popular events fill up quickly-the number of simultaneous avatars on a sim/island needs to be raised without causing performance issues
Virtual worlds such as Second Life allow a level of anonymity valued by many (especially important in the case of HIV/AIDS and other diseases with stigma and privacy/trust issues)
The ability to globally collaborate/connect/network can be a life saver for some who are able to find community and help here
A strong sense of presence beyond that of web conferencing systems and other technologies
Information available on the Web, evaluated & chosen by professionals and placed in context in places like the Karuna RC provides added value
A persistent environment with 24/7 access
People can make valuable connections in serendipitous ways
Opportunities to explore, learn and develop personally and professionally
Creativity abounds and includes immersive learning experiences
SL can be a very engaging and enjoyable place, an extra benefit for people who are dealing with difficult issues related to HIV/AIDS and other problems
Karuna Team - Sharing our final report at the Karuna Community Center - Jena Ball, Project Coordinator, and me, Robin Ashford, Consumer Health Librarian, sharing with Lori Bell, Project Administrator, and Tom Peters, Project Evaluator
Our NLM grant ends April 1, 2010 - It's been a remarkable journey Thank you to the Karuna Team listed above, the NLM, Alliance Library System, and all who made this opportunity possible Karuna Consumer Health Librarian posts on posterous blog