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

3D Virtual Environments

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.

Ethical approval was granted to carry out a qualitative research project with some of our undergraduate students to consider their experiences of learning in this environment. This was completed in 2011 and we are now in the process of submitting an article for publication. We also have a poster accepted at the COT annual conference this year (2012) in Glasgow.

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

My Eureka moment in second life

When I realised that I was not in the middle of a clever computer game, but that I was engaging with real people from anywhere in the real world. Exciting yet slightly "scary".

          My Eureka moment in second life

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

My first experience with SL

Well, I created my avatar - Almenah Telling almost a year ago now. My colleague and I were developing an MSc to be delivered on line and wanted to look at SL as a space for potential teaching areas - or if not then certainly for a graduation ceremony for our students. It was my colleague who introduced me to SL - she had heard of it but not joined so we registered at the same time.
Registering was relatively painless - although choosing a name was harder than I thought - I chose an old family christian name (Almenah) as I had been researching my family tree about the same time and it was fresh in my mind. I have chosen a rather conservative look for myself and am still not confident in changing my appearance - my friend was more adventurous but ended up wearing a box and didn't know how to change it - so I have yet to experiment.
I arrived in orientation island and practiced moving around - with similar experiences that others have talked about - bumping into people, and finding maps etc difficult to read - but this didn't take too long. Realising that I could walk through water, fall off high things etc and still get up was strange. Have you seen this youtube video? A very real representation of my first steps!!
I must admit to not making the most of orientation and I was soon searching and teleporting to other areas - trying to keep to educational areas - but not always suceeding - and there are a number of areas that can be rather shocking to see at first.
I ahve tried to find freebies, win money etc but have not been successful, I have, however, sat in a flying sleigh with santa, ice skated, eaten a roast dinner and met my friend for a coffee.
I left Almenah for quite a few months as other things took precedence - but I am really enjoying the opportunity to ressurect her and find my way around with the support and guidance of people who know what they are doing.

Just as a quick addition - I have just attended my first meeting in SL - I have discussed painting, calculus and tap dancing with people from Venezuela, Belgium, Portugal and Reading - how surreal is that! Oh, and for some reason I appeared to have a ghostly spectre sitting next to me - but apparently that was a settings problem - I wonder if SL has hauntings?