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Adventures in research and teaching in Second Life®


From pre-conference workshop, Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division, Association of American Publishers, Washington, DC, February 4, 2009

From pre-conference workshop, Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division, Association of American Publishers, Washington, DC, February 4, 2009

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  • 1. Susan Toth-Cohen, Ph.D., OTR/L (SL – Zsuzsa Tomsen ) Jefferson College of Health Professions, Philadelphia, PA Adventures in Research and Teaching at the Jefferson Occupational Therapy Center in Second Life® Professional and Scholarly Publishing, Association of American Publishers, Washington, DC, February 4, 2009
  • 2. Basic Questions
    • What exactly are virtual worlds?
    • How did they come about?
    • Is Second Life the only one?
    • What are academic researchers and educators doing there?
  • 3. Virtual Worlds: Offspring of gaming & virtual reality (Siva, 2008)
    • A synchronous, persistent network of people, represented as avatars, facilitated by networked computers. (Bell, 2008, p. 2)
    • Many virtual worlds exist, for people of all ages, which may be used for many purposes
    Virtual Reality Gaming
  • 4.
  • 5. Characteristics of Virtual Worlds 1. Shared Space : many users can participate at once. 2. Graphical User Interface : depicts space visually 3. Immediacy : interaction takes place in real time. 4. Interactivity : users create or alter content. 5. Persistence : continues to exist regardless of whether individual users are logged in. 6. Socialization/Community : allows and encourages in-world social groups Play2 Train
  • 6. Unique Features of Virtual World Education
    • Deliver information and reach new audiences in a cost-effective manner
    • Collaborate with other disciplines and institutions to develop projects
    • Meet needs of learners accustomed to virtual environments
  • 7. T he Jefferson Occupational Therapy Center in Second Life ®
  • 8. Current Aims of Project
    • Provide exhibits on health and wellness for residents of the virtual world and conduct ongoing evaluation and improvement of these exhibits
    • Collaborate with health professionals and consumers/residents to create the content and format of the exhibits, and
    • Provide a way that graduate students can learn to deliver health information for consumers that is engaging, accurate, and benefits everyday life.
  • 9. Exhibits Produced
    • Healthy Aging
    • Adaptation Home
    • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
    • Backpack Awareness
    • Stroke Awareness
  • 10. Healthy Aging Exhibit Theme: The “garden” of the brain never ceases being pruned and newly planted. This quote from http:// reflects the focus of much research on neuroplasticity.
  • 11. Adaptation Home Exhibit Displays adaptations for low vision, mobility challenges, and impaired cognitive functioning
  • 12. Evolution of Second Life ® Focus
    • Bring classes into Second Life ®
    • Structured assignments
    • Content provided through powerpoints, video, & quizzes
    • Collaborative projects & exhibits
      • Program dev. & evaluation
    • Exploration & brainstorming
    • Interactive displays
    • Events
  • 13. Keys to Success of Project
    • Graduate assistants (paid)
    • Graduate research students (final MS projects)
    • Building and scripting classes
    • Active Collaboration
    • Project focus
    • Regularly scheduled meetings & consistent presence in-world
    • In-world GROUPS!
  • 14. Program Development Process
    • Faculty-Student Collaborators Team
    Weekly Meetings Meeting schedule varies according to project
  • 15. Program Evaluation
    • Data Sources:
    • Online Survey –
      • Demographics
      • Overall response to all exhibits
      • Specific response to the Healthy Aging exhibit (newly developed)
    • Follow-up Interview
      • Optional with open-ended questions
    • Focus group (new healthy aging exhibit)
    Purpose: To further develop and evaluate the content and format of exhibits and visitor response
  • 16. Institutional Review Board Application
    • 3 levels of review:
    • Full
    • Expedited
    • Exempt
    • Approved with no revisions or questions
    • Procedures for recruitment and consent were patterned after a study conducted by Texas A&M
    • Participants recruited through education and healthcare groups and event notices
    • Notecard provided for consent
    • 100L honorarium (about 50 ¢)
  • 17. Results of Program Evaluation
    • 30 survey participants
      • 11 male, 17 female
          • (2 declined to give their gender)
      • 40% >45 years of age
      • 83.34% with some years of college
    • 23 follow-up interviews
      • Voluntary face-to-face virtual chats
      • Open-ended questions with probes if needed
      • Constructive and supportive feedback given
  • 18. Survey Findings
    • 88.33% strongly agree/agree
      • visual, interactive 3-D displays help them learn better than 2-D websites
    • 80% strongly agree/agree
      • the information will be beneficial in real life
    • 93.33% strongly agree/agree
      • the materials were presented clearly
  • 19. 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 Backpack Safety Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Healthy Aging Adaptation Home Most Useful Exhibit
  • 20. Sample Comments: Real Life Applicability
    • I thought the content was immediately applicable and practical…I think it is a great resource for the OT’s in the state.
    • I never realized how hard it is for someone in a wheelchair to do basic tasks like get things out of the cabinet in the kitchen!
    • I am dealing with aging parents at present and found the suggestions very helpful. We are thinking about re-modeling the bathroom, so it it was timely as well.
    • I am in that (older) age group, and knowing that certain things I do…are actually part of a healthy aging lifestyle - and other points - will keep me focused on pro-active strategies.
    • the backpack display really helped me out because I carry a lot of weight in my backpack with all my books.
  • 21. Discussion of Program Evaluation Results
    • Virtual worlds appear to be a promising new venue for promoting health and wellness
    • Exhibits in the virtual world can have practical, real world applications
    • Participants in program evaluation are partners whose feedback helps improve and expand upon exhibits
  • 22. Graduate Student Participation
    • Project-based approach provides rich benefits for both graduate students and researchers
    • Virtual environment affords unique opportunity for students to develop, test, and refine ideas for educating consumers about important health topics
    • Collaboration is key for development and review process
  • 23. Questions about research and teaching in 2 nd Life? Want a full list of references? Email me.