Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely our own and not necessarily those of our employer or any other occupational therapist.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Second Life Research

Some of you may be aware that Sarah and myself have been working on a Second Life project for the last year.  As part of a successful bid to engage in a project for the VC’s Media City Iconic projects award we have developed (together with Lee Griffiths - Lecturer in Computer Science and Joe Brindle Post Graduate Computer Science student) an environment within a multi-user virtual environment (Second Life). This takes the form of a home environnment (complete with kitchen, bathroom, bedrooms, stairs and furniture) and encourages the user to consider basic apects of access, occupational participation and potential envioronmental adaptations for a wheelchair user.

The first phase of the house has been completed and we have now received ethical approval to carry out a qualitative research project with some of our undergraduate students to consider their experiences of learning in this enviornment. It is expected that these results, together with the Systematic Literature Review currently underway (by our Summer Scholarship student Alex Moss - recent occupational therapy graduate from Queen Maragaret's University in Edinburgh) will inform the project further with plans for a quantitative comparative study in the pipeline and work with both education and practice environments.

Potential Benefits to HCP and Students

Most health care professionals have an element of experiential learning in their pre-registration programmes in order that they can have the opportunity to practice new skills and behaviours in a tangible, reality based but safe environment (Pimental 1999). Unfortunately the organisation and implementation of such learning experiences can be extremely resource intensive in relation to staffing, time, costs and equipment or facilities, and the experience must be carefully guided and facilitated in order to focus student engagement (Lai et al 2005)

Potential Benefits to Service Users

Service users with long term serious disabilities often experience occupational alienation, and part of their rehabilitation is to embed within them a sense of self efficacy and control in managing their own environments and activities (Wilcock 1998). This can be difficult to do in the real world, again due to time and resourse constraints, as well as a need for careful risk management

A virtual or therapeutic experience could address such challenges and the use of innovative technologies to address health care education and practice is encouraged (DOH 2009, Freeman 2008, NHS Faculty of Health Informatics (2008). JISC certainly encourages innovation in providing "technology-rich learning environments that are sustainable, accessible and reflect an understanding of the learning styles, preferences and diversity of their users" (www.jisc.ac.uk) . Whilst as yet there is not an extensive body of research exploring the use of virtual worlds in heath care education or practice, Kashani et al (2009 p5) recommend that health care professions be involved in collaborative research with developers of virtual worlds by "approaching disciplines that incorporate the influence of cultural, social and physical environments, such as occupational therapy in order to develop "more inclusive user interfaces".

Whilst there has been some research in this area (Freeman 2008, Kashani et al 2009) the issue of experiencing occupational participation and deprivation in a virtual way has not been extensively addressed.

Sarah and I are currently getting ready to recruit our participants from our new undergraduate intake. Induction to the Second Life experience has been planned and - fingers crossed- we are ready to roll. We'll keep you informed how we get on.

DOH (2009) New education Bodies created to promote innovation in the NHS - http//www.dh.gov.uk/en/News/Recentstories
Freeman D (2008) Studying and treating Schizophrenia Unsig Virtual reality: A new Paradigm. Schizophrenia Bullitin. 34(4) 605-610 /DH_110419
Joint Information Systems Committee. (2007). Game-based learning. E-learning innovation programme. Briefing papers. http://www.jisc.ac.uk/publications/publications/pub_gamebasedlearningBP.aspx accessed 5.3.10
Joint Information Systems Committee (2010) http://www.jisc.ac.uk/whatwedo/topics/learningenvironments.aspx accessed 5.3.10
Kashani, R.M., Robets, A., Jones, R., Boulos, M.K., (2009) Virtual Worlds, Colllective Responses and Responsibilities in Health Journal of Virtual Worlds Vol 2 Number 2
Lai CH Yang JC Chen FC Ho CW Liang JS and Chan TW (2005) Improving experiential learning with mobile technologies. In Proceedings of the IEEE International Workshop on Wireless and Mobile Technologies in Education (WMTE2005) 141 145. IEEEE Computer Society press, Los Alamitos, CA.
NHS Faculty of Health Informatics (2008) The power and perils of using social networking tools in the NHS. NHS Faculty of Health Informatics: London.
Pimental J R (1999) Design of net-learning systems based on experiential learning. Journal of Asynchronous Learning network 3 (2) 64-90
Wilcock, A. (1998). An occupational perspective on health. Thorofare NJ: Slack ink. (Chapter 6)
University of Salford Strategic Plan 2009/10 to 2017/18, (2009). http://staff.salford.ac.uk/transforming/documents/university_of_salford_strategic_plan.pdf


ZoeP said...

This is totally brilliant and I am delighted to hear about it - I know you will keep us posted (literally) as the research unfolds and I look forward immensely to reading about it.

Jays said...

I second what ZoeP has written. This is very exciting. It's great to see health professionals making use of social media sites. I'll be tweeting this :) @cocoonhealth

Anonymous said...

I too think this is an exciting development. I have some concerns about Second Life as a platform (for this specific element of the project)

I find the Second Life user interface to be close to impenetrable and that is coming from someone who grew up on video games and the like.

How are you going to overcome that learning curve?

Angela said...

Hi all, thanks for your support and your interest.
@thinkingot Second Life is our current platform but we are currently involved in looking at others as it is the virtual environment we are interested in rather that SL per se. In order to get the participants ready we have designed our own Induction ground that will specifically facilitate their ability to get to grips with the SL functionality. We will also be evaluating the induction. Just over two weeks to go!
Will keep you all posted.

Anonymous said...

I am currently a Utica College student in Utica, New York. My assignment is to reply to 3 different blogs. This is how I came to your blog. I did not realize a Second Life Virtual Reality existed. First of all, I was amazed that such a thing truly exists. I thought that it only existed in movies.

Secondly, I did some searching on our college data base of evidence-based information and peer journals. I came across an interesting article that used virtual reality to allow cognitive disabled individuals to communicate knowledge and experience with public transportation. The article spoke very positively about the research. The article did state that one individual have difficulties with "detecting stop buttons on the bus, possibly because the VR system did not provide any binocular depth cues" (Wallergard, Eriksson, & Johansson, 2008, p. 22). Do you think that your Second Life will have binocular depth cues? If not, do you think that this will affect the data of your research?

I will be following to see this progress. I think that using VR is a great idea.

Wallergård M; Eriksson O; & Johansson G. (2008). A suggested virtual reality methodology allowing people with cognitive disabilities to communicate their knowledge and experiences of public transport systems. Technology & Disability, 20(1), 9-24.

deborah said...

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Angela said...

Hi Sherri
What a great assignment - I wonder what you learned from having to leave comments on 3. Thanks for your interest in our post and for choosing us as one of your 3 to leave comment.
The article you cite looks very interesting and I am in the process of getting a copy to read through. In terms of your query re binocular vision - SL as a platform does not offer such sophisticated functionality - but at the moment this is not a vital part of what we need from the environment. I do know that there is work being done within the University of Salford that is looking at tracking binocular vision and a much more 3D interactivity with virtual environments - but not within SL. Hope this answers your query.
Many thanks, Angela

Alex said...

Hi Sherri,

I’m currently carrying out a literature review in collaboration with with Sarah and Angela on the use of virtual environments in healthcare, examining the evidence from an occupational therapy perspective as much as possible. These two references are very interesting and give real insight into potential use of Second Life as a learning environment. Maybe these can be sourced through your College database?

Best of luck with your assignment!

Kamel Boulos, M. N., Hetherington, L. and Wheeler . 2007. Second Life: an overview of the potential of 3-D virtual worlds in medical and health education. Health Informaton and Libraries Journal. 24 pp233-243.

Kamel Boulos, M. N., Ramloll, R., Jones, R. And Toth-Cohen, S. 2008. Web 3D for Public, Environmental and Occupational Health: Early Examples from Second Life.

Alex said...


Apologies, this is the full second reference.......

Kamel Boulos, M. N., Ramloll, R., Jones, R. And Toth-Cohen, S. 2008. Web 3D for Public, Environmental and Occupational Health: Early Examples from Second Life. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 5 pp290-317.

Sherri said...

Alex ~

Thank you very much for this information.

I will continue to follow the blog. Best of luck to you as well.


Sherri said...

Alex ~

Thank you very much for the return information.

Best of luck with your studies as well.


Sherri Allen said...

Thank you very much for the information Alex. It will be interesting to continue to follow the results.

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