Sunday, March 14, 2010

Second Life(r) Disability Resources

Second Life (R) for people with disabilities

When I first started looking at Second Life (R) as a platform for education one of the biggest concerns expressed by those not particularly knowledgeable about virtual worlds in general and Second Life (R) specifically was that it cannot be used by people with disabilities. This statement directly contradicted what I was seeing around me and what I was hearing from people in Second Life (R).

Virtual Ability island provides a haven for people with disabilities to experience virtual worlds. A place for people to safely take their first steps into the virtual world, an orientation site for people who are experiencing Second Life (R) for the first time, and an informational resources for educators and businesses seeking information on resources for people with disabilities Virtual Ability Island provides a variety of information. There is a Virtual Ability mentor available at all times on the island to answer your questions. Below is a screenshot of an information board in Second Life (R):

This is the Slurl to Virtual Abilityand the Virtual Ability Website is available here.

In my opinion Virtual Ability Island is a must see stop in Second Life (R) for educators, business people and anyone who has an interest in knowing more about how Virtual Worlds / Second Life (R) can benefit those with disabilities. It is the hub for information and resources for anyone who is entering Second Life (R) for the first time.

I recently attended the Virtual Worlds Best Practice in Education conferences, one of the sessions I attended was related to the use of Second Life (R) for people with disabilities. While there Hydra Shaftoe related his experiences in using Second Life (R) and his experiences in hiring people with disablities to do work in Second Life (R).

Another community that you will want to famliarize your self with is that of the Gimp Girl Community. From their website they describe themselves as:

GimpGirl Community, a program of People Helping People, is a place where women with disabilities come together to share their lives, experiences, problems and successes, in a safe space that focuses more on our commonality as women, and less on what disabilities they have. Members are valued and respected because of who they are, and that has always included women with disabilities of all ages, colors, and sexual orientations. Our current partners and academics are also welcome to work with us in furthering our goals.

The Second Life (R) site for Gimp Girl is here at theattached SLURL. Because of the immersive nature of virtual worlds people with disabilities may experience freedom associated wtih movement, communication and experiences that they cannot have in their physical or "real world." Below are some snapshots from the Gimp Girl site in Second Life (R):

People with disabilities who use a wheelchair in real life have the option to use one in Second Life (R) or not, it is up to them. If they feel comfortable in Second Life (R) without the wheelchair they have that choice. There are many sites with wheelchairs available this is one at Gimp Girl:

The use of Second Life (R) in providing an avenue for communication, interaction and even employment opportunities for people with autism is proven to be effective. Here I am outside the headquarters for the Autism Awareness Center.

The environment of Second Life (R) provides practitioners with an opportunity to simulate the experiences of an individual with autism, provide information, and a meeting place for individuals with autism in Second Life (R).

This photo provides a simulation of what a person with autism may have while trying to concentrate or focus on something:

Below is an example of information boards for individuals with autism:

TheUniversity of Derby is conducting research into communication disorders at their lab in Second Life (R), from a notecard, written by Milton Broome received in-world indicates that the research is as follows:

Research with communication impaired people in Second Life (R).
We are currently setting up research in Second Life (R) that will investigate the effectiveness of the grid to enhance first life social-communication skills in people diagnosed with Autism and Asperger's Syndrome. I am particularly interested in the use of Second Life (R) to reach out to groups of people who show communication and social impairments. The unique virtual world of Second Life (R) could provide an environment where interventions and experiments that may be considered unethical or impossible in real life can be easily conducted whilst assuring the safety of the participants. Other research currently under consideration is the use of Second Life (R) in sensory controlled environments to utilize communication skills and reduce sensory distractions.

Via its strong social networking tools Second Life (R) provides the opportunity to establish groups or join an existing group the provides support and information for those working with individuals with disabilities and join with those who share your disability. Simply doing a search via the search tool in Second Life (R) will allow you to see what groups exist on the grid that may be related to what you are seeking. I have included information on some of the groups below I have no idea on how active these groups are:

Some profiles of these groups are as follows:

Health Discussion Leaders:

Charter: This group is an offshoot of The Health Support Coalition. Where the Coalition is focused on assisting leaders of peer-support groups dealing with health and disability issues, the Health Discussion Leaders group is meant for those who a) present topics of interest in the fields of health and disability or b) wish to be informed of such topics.

"Health" is meant to include physical, mental, and emotional improvement and wellness.

Open Enrollment

Open Gates Peer Support community is a place for Second Life (R) residents with disabilities --ANY disability-- to turn for support.

Living with a disability can be difficult (understatement) and our goal is to be a desperately-needed 24/7 support channel. for people with disabilities. The gates are always open.

People who need someone to talk to can simply type in the Open Gates channel, and chat there, or use it to ask to IM or meet privately.

In my search around the grid for resources for people with disabltiies I even found a nightclub Wheelies 74, nice profile picture huh? And here is their website address.

With resources, sites like Virtual Ability Island, communication tools, groups, and practitioners in world Second Life (R) proves too be a rich asset for people who may have a disability. If you have not yet accessed it then I encourage you to may prove to be just what you or someone you know is looking for. Before beginning though I suggest you go through Virtual Ability Island first.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Second Life literature review

I am starting to delve deeper in to the research on Second Life as a venue for the delivery of education and training. When I first started looking at Second Life for education, well over a year ago it seemed that there was little out there to really guide educators based upon research and data. However, today all of that has changed. While I cannot hope to present all of the research in Virtual Worlds and Second Life specifically I hope to provide some sort of bibliography that will help you identify those resources that would be most pertinent to your needs.

Works Cited

Alarifi, Sultan A. "An Exploratory Study of Higher Education Virtual Campuses in Second Life." Diss. University of Nottingham, 2008. Print.

Appelman, Rober. "Designing Experiential Modes; A Key focus for Immersive Learning Environments." Tech Trends 49.3 (2005): 64-74. Print.

The Blue Book: A Consumer Guide to Virtual Worlds Is Now Available Free from the Association of Virtual Worlds. 2008. Web. 04 Jan. 2010. .

Boellstorff, Tom. Coming of Age in Second Life An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human. New York: Princeton UP, 2008. Print.

Bradley, Jean-Claude, and Andrew Lang. "Chemistry in Second Life." Chemistry Central Journal 3.14 (2009). Print.

Butler, Des, and Janice White. "A slice of Second Life: Academics, support staff and students navigating a changing landscape." A slice of Second Life: Academics, support staff and students navigating a changing landscape. Proc. of Ascilite 2008, Australia, Melbourne. Print.

Cagnina, Maria, and Michele Poian. "Beyond eBusiness Models: the Road to Virtual Worlds." Electronic Commerce Research 9.1-2 (2009): 195-204. Print.

Calongne, Cynthia. "Educational Frontiers: Learning in a Virtual World." Educause Review 43.5 (2008). Print.

Carr, David F. "Second Life demonstrates mingling of real and virtual worlds Rapid prototyping among the benefits for military and civilian organization." Defense System Knowledge Tecnologies and Net Centric Warfare. 9 Dec. 2009. Web. .
Castranova, Edward. Exodus to the virtual World How online fun is changing reality. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008. Print.

Collins, Chris. "Looking to the Future: Higher Education in the Metaverse." Educause Review 43.5 (2008). Print.

Danielsen, Judith M., and Mats Deutschmann. Learning and Teaching in the Virtual World of Second Life. Tapir Academic, 2009. Print.

Davis, Alanah, John Murphy, Dawn Owens, Deepak Khanzanchki, and Ilze Zgurs. "Avatars, People, and Virtual Worlds: Foundations for Research in Metaverses." Journal of the Association of Information Systems 10.2 (2009): 91-117. Print.

Dreher, Carl. "Virtual Worlds as a Context Suited for Information Systems Education: Discussion of Pedagogical Experience and Curriculum Design with Reference to Second Life." Journal of Information Systems Education 20.2 (2009): 211-25. Print.

Educause Learning Initiative. "7 things you should know about Second Life." Educause. 2008. Web. 02 Feb. 2010. .

Gatto, James, Bradford Blaise, and Benjaminm Esplin. " Saber-Rattling Portends a Trend in Virtual World and Video Game Patents." Intellectual Property & Technology Law Journal 21.5 (2009). Print.

Graham, Steven. "14619571070100010503 European Journal of Archaeology 2007; 10; 77 Shawn Graham teaching and research: Linden Labs, Second Life, Special Reviews Section: Second lives: online worlds for archaeological teaching and research." European Journal of Archeology 10 (2007): 77-79. Print.

Harrison, Rodney. "Excavating Second Life Cyber-Archaeologies, Heritage and Virtual Communities." Journal of Material Culture 14 (2009): 75-106. Print.
Lamb, Annette, and Larry Johnson. "The potential, the pitfalls, and the promise of multi-user virtual environmen..." Teacher Librarian 36.4 (2009): 68-79. Print.
Malaby, Thomas M. Making Virtual Worlds: Linden Lab and Second Life. London: Cornell UP, 2009. Print.

Mattar, Jao. Technological Minimalism and Second Life: Time for Educational Technology and Content Minimalism. Technological Minimalism and Second Life: Time for Educational Technology and Content Minimalism. Dec. 2009. Web. 6 Feb. 2010. .

Meadows, Mark Stephen. I, Avatar The Culture and Consequences of Having a Second Life (TestPrep (New Riders')). New York: New Riders, 2008. Print.

Mennecke, Brian, Edward M. Roche, David A. Bray, Benn Konsynski, John Lester, Michael Rowe, and Anthony Townsend. "Second Life and Other Virtual Worlds: A Roadmap for Research." 28th International Conference on Information Systems. Proc. of 28th International Conference on Information Syhstems. 7 Oct. 2007. Web. 02 Feb. 2010. .
Nakazaki, Takashi. "Is Japan Ready to Welcome the Virtual World Age? Second Life’s Bubble Bursts as a Business Tool in Japan." Computer and Internet Lawyer 26.11 (2009): 13-28. Print.
Pearce, Celia. Communities of play emergent cultures in multiplayer games and virtual worlds. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2009. Print.

Reeves, Byron, and J. Leighton Read. Total Engagement: using games and virtual worlds to change the way people work and businesses compete. Boston: Harvarad Business, 2009. Print.
Rico, Mercedes, Gemma Puerto, and Paula De Silva. "Second Lives and Newer Islands: Language, Culture and Identity through Migration literature." Tejuelo. Didáctica de la lengua y la literatura. Educación 1988.4830200 (2008): 140-67. Print.

Robbins, Russell, and Brian S. Butler. "Selecting a Virtual World Platform for Learning." Journal of Information Systems Education 20.2 (2009): 1199-211. Print.

Robbins, Russell, and Brian S. Butler. "Selecting a Virtual World Platform for Learning." Journal of Information Systems Education 20.2 (2009). Print.

Rufer-Bach, Kimberly. The Second Life Grid the Official Guide to Communicaiton, Collaboration, and community Engagement. Indianaplicy: Wiley,, 2009. Print.

Savin-Baden, Maggie, and Cathy Tombs. "Commentary: Virtual Planning: Second Life and the Online Studio." Journal of Planning Education and Research 29.108 (2009). Print.

Shen, Jia, and Lauren Edfer. "EXPLORING INTENTIONS TO USE VIRTUAL WORLDS FOR BUSINESS." Journal of Information Systems Education 20.2 (2009): 225-35. Print.

Skiba, Diane. "Nursing Education 2.0: A Second Look at Second Life." Nursing Education Perspectives; 30.2 (2009): 211-21. Print.

Terdiman, Daniel. The Entrepreneur's Guide to Second Life Making Money in the Metaverse. Indianapolis: Wiley Publishin, 2008. Print.

Turner, Phil, and Susan Turner. "Triangulation in practice." Virtual Reality 13 (2009): 171-81. Print.

"Virtual Worlds Researchers Wiki." Virtual Worlds Research Wiki. Web. 02 Jan. 2010. .

Wagner, Christian, and RAchel Ip. "Action Learning with Second Life – A Pilot Study." Journal of Information Systems Education 20.2 (2009): 211-25. Print.

Wagner, Christian, and Rachel IP. "Action Learning with Second Life – A Pilot Study." Journal of Information Systems Education, 20.2 (2009): 249-58. Print.

WAng, Yuanqiong, and James Bramam. "Extending the Classroom through Second Life." Journal of Information Systems Education 20.22 (2009): 235-49. Print.

Weicha, John, Robin Heyden, Ellen Sternthal, and Mario Merialdi. "Learning in a Virtual World: Experience With Using Second Life for Medical Education." Jounral of Medical Internet Research. JMIR, 01 Jan. 2010. Web. 02 Feb. 2010. .
Zagal, Jose P. Ludoliteracy: Defining, understanding and supprorting games education. Lulu. Print.

Zhang, Xiaolong (Luke). "Multiscale traveling: crossing the boundary between space and scale." Virtual Reality (2009). Print.

As this literature review provided a foundation for research it also provided a foundation for conducting the research. The methodology included a survey of educators in Second Life, research observations and immersion in the Second Life. The focus of the research was on education, how university sites in Second Life would be constructed to engage learners, and to determine who was driving the use of virtual worlds in education.

The survey was administered via Survey Monkey and was conducted for a more than six weeks. An initial review of the results has been started. At this point it seems that most initiatives for education in Second Life are those of individual faculty and staff who see the potential of virtual worlds for education.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Why I write and other stuff

oday I was contemplating the question.."Why do you write?" I am not a published author, I don't think dissertations count..haha. I really don't think I am a very good writer..I salute anyone who reads through my blogs and doesn't escape from that experience without being confused and bewildered. This blog "mixed bag" is a silly name but it is somewhat fitting--I am never entirely sure what I will be posting here. My intent today,for example was to write a blog focused on Second Life, but this blog has wandered off on some sort of a different focus. Given that I am compelled to incorporate something regarding Second Life into this blog, which I will do towards the end.

I was inspired to write this post after reading Cecelia Ward Jones' article in the Jan/February 2010 issue of Poets and Writers magazine. In this article she chronicles her writing career and traces that she decided to be a writer at the age of nine having spent the day reading Little Women..which was thrust upon her by her grandmother after she complained of having nothing to do. At that same age I was reading alot too. Nancy Drew Mysteries, Five Little Peppers books, Bobbsey Twins, Black Beauty, My Friend Flicka, Dr. Seuss books, Scholastic Books, my mom's Reader's Digest Condensed Books, and a variety of other books. By the age of 17 had devoured Wind in the Willows, Catcher in the Rye, 1984, Watership Down, Atlas Shrugged, JRR Tolkein, Animal Farm, tons of science fiction and fantasy, I loved books and I loved to read.

Having established a life long love of reading..why do I write? in college my first composition class teacher assigned us poetry writing..I had never written poetry before but hammered out some lines.. and she loved them..she engaged in a long class discussion regarding them..I was exhilarated..I had never received such recognition for anything I had written before. I no longer have those poems but I am sure they were fueled by teen age angst and some lingering effects of a romance novel I had read. I have continued to have that sort of acknowledgment for my writing from my peers and others throughout my academic career. I have taken college classes, Writers Digest workshops, and attend various writer groups to better refine my writing skills. Therefore it must be that love of reading that is behind why I write, that recognition for what I write that drives me to continue to write today. Writing though is a fundamental tool for me to use in figuring out my world.

Writers have different processes of writing. Some can go straight to writing others carefully map out what they are going to write via an outline. I actually write most of my stuff out in long hand, then type it up or word process it into Google Docs. From there I transfer it via cut and paste to my blog. At least in this way what I write goes through to drafts..but I still know I am slack in the finer points of using just the right word. This is why I have recently been seeking out writers groups in Second Life to engage in dialogue and critique of my writing. I have listed some of these resources below:

Athena Isle Writers is for writers of all kinds to network, share contacts and information and meet writers, editors, and publishers. (Formerly Writers Wednesday.) We meet on Athena Isle EVERY Wed at 12pm SLT. Led by Alas Zerbino. Authors & expert guests booked by Cybergrrl Oh.

For writers who want to meet other writers to get inspired & rev up their writing business. Great writing job opportunities discussed. &

Virtual worlds writers group

Formerly The Guild of UK Writers. Group meetings held at Milk Wood. a featured Second Life Showcase site.

Incorporating all virtual writers' and literary group information. Helping keep your finger on the literary pulse.

The Learning Experience

Groups and workshops for writers of all kinds. Website here; , in world The Learning Experience. According to their information: WHAT EXACTLY IS THE TLE WRITERS SYMPOSIUM?

These 2-hour sessions are a combination of open mic and writers' support/feedback group: Writers read their work aloud, and if desired, get feedback afterward.

Other events;

WhereSECOND LIFE (map)
DescriptionTeacher: Alianaluz Rivera Classrunner: ashraf Aulder - ARA This class: TEXT. Story Writing. During this class students will write a short story. Join us. Come have fun and get your creative juices flowing! The first class is free. If it's the first time contact the Class Runner 30 minutes before class. Cost: 750L (1.9 euro; 2.9 US$; 300YEN) More classes:

Daily writing topics for authors. We will post news about competitions we find noteworthy. We will also offer suggestions for daily field trips you can undertake in the real world. Finally, we’ll publish inspirational thoughts to keep you moving forward. Feel free to use the photographs on this site for your own purposes.

Book Island in Second Life: Publishing Village for books, magazines and other resources for writers in Second Life. Here is a link to a recent article on Book Island.

And the Storm Mountain Writers Center in Second Life A place for writers! Serious fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction classes taught by professionals; critique & support groups; writers' hangout & coffeeshop (Hemingway Cafe); information source for entire SL writing scene, bookstore, Athen

So get inworld and check these places out... and remember ..don't stop writing.....