Paving a Path for the use of Virtual Worlds in the School Transcription of Video Shannon GrayHello I would like to take this opportunity to thank the board members for considering my proposal thisevening when I am proposing is a pilot program to look at using virtual worlds to create parent centers.Virtual worlds are an upcoming innovation that will make parent centers available to meet the schedulesof our busy parents. I would like to explain to you how this fits into our school financially. It would costroughly $5000 per school to have our parent centers virtually. However, if we are paying our parentcoordinators $12 an hour that comes out to roughly $18,000 a year; if the pilot is successful one parentcoordinator would be needed for five schools. They would be at each school one day per week. Thecosts of the four additional parent coordinators would be $72,000 a year. To have the virtual world andall five schools it would cost $25,000 a year. That is a savings for the school of $47,000. At this time, Iwould like to present to you the innovation that I would like you to consider.I would like to begin with a tour of the virtual world in Active Life. This particular clip is an example of acollege, Appalachian State University, and their online campus. This is an example of their informationgarden where students go to gather information on topics like writing, or they can go and “sit” to listento books or to read. This gives you an example of what can be built in World and how an area could beset up for parents. There are really numerous opportunities. If we can think it, then it can be created. AVirtual World can be a very inviting place for parents. We can also set up area for parents to collaboratewith their children.Next, Im going to share with you the innovation and development process of virtual worlds as based onthe work of Everett Rogers. Lets first look at the need for virtual worlds and schools. As educators weare required to have parent involvement at our school. Parents need 24 seven access to it the school;Teachers also need to collaborate with parent and it would be helpful to parents if all the information ateacher shares are in one place. Parents need to feel part of the school process. They need to fillsupported the have resources available. They need to feel confident in the school and they need theschool to be available to them.The beginnings of virtual worlds have a long history and have been met with many obstacles along theway. In 1950 Morden heilig developed Sensorama: a motorcycle riding experience where the wind wasblowing in your face, the seat vibrated, and there was a 3-D view. His plan was to create theaters of thefuture. The issue with this is that with high cost, he couldnt find financers, and he lacked a social systemIn 1961 Philco Corporation created the first head mounted display unit. They used a closed-circuit videosystem to project and show an image. However, computers and image creation were not yet available.In 1968 Ivan Sutherland created the first virtual reality headset, and was completely generated bycomputer him as a very lifelike in depth. The issue was that the head mounted display was extremelyheavy and had to be hung from the ceiling First virtual-reality headset called ultimate display.
Most of the 1980s were spent working on flight simulators for the U.S. Army and computers began toget faster and have more memory. In 1984 Michael McGeevy envisioned and created the humancomputer interface and got the attention of the media and respect virtual-reality. However the mediapresented virtual-reality in a way because people to have unrealistic expectations for virtual-reality andthis caused them to not believe in effectiveness.In the 1990s this perception of virtual-reality continued in the public eye, however, virtual-reality hasmoved on and it is used for entertainment, training, research, and education. The issue is that it is moreor less taking place behind closed doors, but is slowly beginning to get some attention.Today, virtual-reality is being integrated into many arenas these include: virtual worlds, augmentedreality, virtual pets, 3-D graphics, HD video backgrounds, video animation, virtual doors, 360° displayand training.I would like to share what research has to say about active world the virtual world that I am proposingfor the pilot study. Virtual worlds are bottom-up diffusion. Active world is an open source softwaredeveloped at Indiana University. This world allows researchers to look at diffusion patterns in a virtualenvironment. There are currently 80 education world in active world. The activities range frominteraction, experimentation, meetings, and projects. Educational packaging prices are available andthere is support for educators in the active world educational universe.In looking at the production, manufacturing, and distribution of this innovation one must realize thatvirtual worlds are were the World Wide Web was in the early 1990s, when most people did not fullygrasp or anticipate what the business implications would be and when performance, lack ofapplications, and poor usability hampered mass market adoption. Virtual worlds continue to gainpopularity in training, marketing goods, interactive areas for collaboration, economic trade, andeducational environment. The most widely spread commercialization at this time is with the youngergeneration: Open Sims, PlayStation, Wii, Webkinz and such. It is likely that as the next-generationproceeds, and technology advances, it will bring the virtual world into all aspects of our lives creating asocial shift within society.The following is a timeline showing the evolution of virtual worlds. The 1960s to the 1980s demonstratethe knowledge level of the diffusion process. This is when an idea is exposed and an understanding of aninnovation is created. In the 1970s knowledge of virtual technology began to emerge through flightsimulators and the capability to replace videos and models for training.As we reached the 1980s we see evidence of the persuasion stage this is when favorable andunfavorable attitudes are formed toward an innovation. In the 1980s high-performance computersbecame available; this provided memory and speed needed for programmers to begin establishingvirtual worlds. However, this technology was still very expensive and had not yet reached into the home.This is also the time when the World Wide Web became available.
In the 1990s we began to see early adopters and this reflects the decision stage of innovation. In the1990s the first virtual world chat became available on the web. A world in 1995 provided a 2-D sharedroom where people could meet and chat for social interactions with avatars and to imitate socialinteraction. There were also the rudiments of building in the world. In the late 1990s ContactConsortium held its first conference called Earth to avatars with 450 attendees. By the end of the 1990sinvestors began to lose interest. There was a question at this time if virtual worlds were going to besuccessful. However, social networking came to the rescue and lead to games like ever quest and Worldof Warcraft at the end of the 1990s.The 2000’s ushered in the implementation stage; this is when individuals put an innovation to use. In2003 Second Life was launched as a beta program and regenerated virtual worlds. In 2009 the economyof Second Life grew 65% to $567 million. Virtual worlds have not made it mainstream yet games likeWorld of Warcraft are where the largest implementation can be found.The confirmation stage is when an innovation has been accepted in the mainstream. This is a futurestage for virtual worlds. However, in the near future virtual world technology will be connected to GPStechnology. You will be able to find friends in a crowd of avatars by following your phone. Such additionsto this innovation will help it be seen in the mainstream.This S-curve was created in by the CEO of Second Life, Mark Kingdon. He created the chart to show thatthe number of users and virtual worlds are increasing. The numbers are repeat users and not new signups. Though this is not the actual virtual world being utilized, it shows that there is more interest anduse of virtual worlds. Data on virtual world is still very broad, and difficult to collect. I believe that this isbecause it is still in the early emergent stage overall. Most of the users represented on this chart wouldbe innovators and early adopters, and maybe early majority. The technology is not diffused enough torepresent the late majority. This is shown in the numbers. In comparison to other innovations whichhave users in the billion, virtual worlds are still in the thousands. However, I believe that the potential toimpact society is just beginning to get recognized. The educational use of this technology could play amajor role in the diffusion of this technology.Next, I would like to look at the adopter’s, adoption, and perceived attribute of virtual worlds. Earlyadopters include educators for professional development, organizations such as is deemed, theinternational Society for technology in education and, ASTD, the American Society for training anddevelopment. Educators conduct classes, collaborate with peers, and participate in conferences. Themilitary use virtual worlds for professional development teleconferencing, role-playing, simulation, andrecruiting. Universities, secondary schools, and corporations are beginning to adopt virtual worlds forlearning. Tours, treasure hunts, and collaborative projects are among the strategies engaged in with invirtual worlds. Virtual worlds create a power of presence, offer apprentice type exercise, and authenticexperiences through role-play.This chart shows the adoption phase of virtual worlds. According to Wienes, virtual worlds in theworkplace are coming down from the hype bubble and are entering into the early adoption phase for auniversal audience. Virtual worlds are on the verge of expansion.
When looking at moving toward adopting virtual worlds, the key elements that lead to failure are afocus on the technology instead of the user and their needs. There needs to be an objective and goal toincrease the adoption of virtual worlds. The goal is to move 2D technology into a 3D environment.Badger, 2008, suggests four strategies for being successful when introducing an innovation for adoption.I would recommend that these steps are followed if we proceed with the pilot study. First we need todefine our case, consider the team members skills, use a crawl and walk then run approach, and providetutorials and training.Every innovation has laggards. At this time with the virtual world, laggards are hard to determine sincewe are so early in the adoption phase. Most organizations drop the use of virtual worlds within 18months if they do not feel successful. These are individual that will likely be hard to pull back into theuse of virtual worlds. Within the school, teachers who do not have strong technology backgrounds orinterest in technology will probably be among the last to adopt virtual worlds.We will be able to encourage laggards by having a monthly newsletter with progress and success stories,by providing tutorials to make the transition easier. We can also utilize user-friendly virtual worlds,trained mentors to assist those who struggle, invest in and recruit the top 20% of interested teachersinto the program. We can also begin providing professional development and teacher meetings in avirtual environment. There should also be someone available to answer questions in a very timelymanner.I would now like to focus on the use of perceived attribute. There were many expectations of virtualenvironments when they were introduced. Consumers were expecting to be in 3D worlds where theywere interacting with an imaginary world through all of their senses. The advancement of technologyhas been much slower, so many have displaced disappointment toward the technology. We have toembrace the technology where it is in its advancement and growth in order to form a strong tie with thevirtual world and education.Looking at the five perceived attribute of the virtual world as proposed by Rogers, the relativeadvantage of virtual worlds in the school would be the flexibility of scheduling, parents can participatearound their schedule. When looking at compatibility, the teachers that parents interact with will be theteachers that parents already know. The children will be familiar with the virtual world and will have acommon knowledge of how to navigate it so they can collaborate with their parent. In looking atcomplexity, this may be the first time parent’s work with this technology. There will have to be tutorialsand face-to-face demonstrations to introduce them to the process. They also have to receive answers toquestions again in a timely manner. There is no cost to parents; so triability will be easy for them. Theywill be able to experiment and utilize the technology at no cost other than their time in getting familiarwith the program. For observability, there will be tutorials and mentoring available to the parents.Next, we will look at critical mass: virtual worlds follow a decentralized diffusion system. Virtual worldoriginate from a variety of sources. There are a number of worlds available to meet the needs of users.Virtual worlds, unless utilized in education or corporations are diffused horizontally among users. Asusers progress in virtual worlds, they reinvent the world. Virtual world users are decision makers who
make many decisions; spontaneous and planned. Virtual world users follow a problem centeredapproach.Virtual worlds in the school will follow a centralized plan. The decision on how to design and implementthe virtual world used by the school will be made by a committee with input from users. There will beindividuals trained to be experts that will mentor others in the school. The building of in world artifactswill be done by designer; however, there will be sandboxes for others to learn how to build tocontribute to the virtual world environment. In the beginning, reinvention of the virtual world will belimited; the goal is for this to grow as users become familiar with the technology.It is speculated that virtual worlds will reach critical mass by 2017. Currently fewer than 10% of virtualworld registrants actually become active users; however, this figure is projected to increase to 27% ofusers by 2017. Virtual worlds such as Sulake’s Habbo Hotel, have registered nearly 100,000,000registrants, and it had 10 million unique monthly visitors. While Linden Lab, Second Life has a similarpattern, with 12 million registrants and about 1 million active users. The research indicates that virtualworlds represent a massive activity that is growing in Asia, the Americas, and Europe; which so faremphasize an interest that appeal to children and teens. Adult virtual world are beginning to emergewith more social and educational applications.In looking at reaching critical mass in our school we will utilize those most interested in diffusing thetechnology to become trained experts in order to mentor and train other individuals in the building. Wewill market the in world parent center to teachers in a way that creates positive attitudes and sharesuccess stories so that they can see the value of virtual worlds. This will be a targeted school so adoptionis not an option. Utilizing the technology will be adopted by the school and not the individuals.In moving towards critical mass in the school, we will uncover the change agent in our school by havinga survey that will find out who the key teachers are in respect to adoption of using virtual worlds in theschool. The change agents will be trained on both virtual worlds and mentoring for the adoption of thevirtual worlds. The change agents will be responsible for diagnosing and sharing any issues and will teamto develop a plan to fix the issue. The change agents will help motivate users to utilize the virtual worldand will seek ways to recognize those that are strong users. The change agents will help to mentor andfacilitate the use of virtual worlds. They will help develop the grade level team and will meet with themmonthly to ensure understanding and present strategies. The change agent will help laggards to betterutilize the technology through support and reinforcement. And the change agent will eventually stepback and become a consultant for the user.You may be asking why there is a need for a virtual world parent center. Our parents are looking at 24seven parenting. Our parents work crazy hours, are going to school, and have several familycommitments. It is difficult for them to come into the school. Parents are under information overload.We are constantly sending home information on how to help your students learn. This information iscoming from different teachers and it is often sat down and forgotten. Parents also may be busy and donot get a chance to check backpacks every night. Some assignments are difficult for parents.Assignments students bring home may be difficult for parents to help them with. We have several
students that are learning English as second language. Parents that are second-language learners mayneed more time to process information and may fill uncomfortable in the school.A virtual world parent center will meet these needs in several ways. A virtual world parent center wouldbe available around the clock for parents. They could access information and write questions on listservwithin the world to get answers. Their work schedule and commitment to not interfere with findinginformation. They could sit in the comfort of their home and browse the resources. Teachers composeimportant information and reminders to send home. Information could be uploaded so the parents canfind important announcements, permission slips, homework, and much more. This would keep theinformation organized and readily available. There will be links to homework help sites within the VirtualWorld. Parents will be able to find resources that will help their children of homework problems. Englishlanguage learner parents can take their time and process the information presented. They can look overinformation that they know what to ask the teacher. As much as possible, information will be availablein multiple languages. Therell be links to translation sites to help a parent.The goal of the school and the requirements of the State are to have parents as active members of ourcommunity. We usually see the same parents at the school on a regular basis. This is fantastic and wewant to continue to see these parents, but past attempts at getting the parents we dont see in the schoolthere have been unsuccessful. The goal and hope of a Virtual Parent Center is that we will be able toreach the parents that seem to be out of our grasp. A Virtual World may be the opportunity that we needto establish stronger ties with our parents and to build a stronger community.