Marilyn Johnson, author of the new book, This Book is Overdue! How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All. She also wrote The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries.
Tom Atkinson teaches Instructional Technology at the U. of Central Florida and has over 30 years of experience in designing, producing, delivering, and evaluating interactive instruction on mobile learning platforms and in virtual worlds
Sharon Tettegah and Cynthia Colongne, co-authors of the 2009 book, Identity, Learning and Support in Virtual Environments.
We received news that "The Abyss Observatory," a new ocean science museum in Second Life, is opening to the public tomorrow, January 28, at 6am PST. The educational sim includes a "Journey into the Deep" 2,000 meter underwater elevator, virtual replicas of the NOAA's research vessel "Okeanos Explorer" and submersible "Cleria", an undersea manned habitat, and lots of other scientific experiences to discover. I really enjoy walking around underwater and seeing all the marine life swimming around me.
And true to the international nature of Second Life, this work is a collaboration between Japanese residents and others from around the world. So don't be surprised if you find a lot of the explanatory text in Japanese characters!
As I've been reporting on, there have been a number of virtual worlds that have supported actions to support Haiti in the past two weeks. Another interesting example is the youth-oriented world of SmallWorlds, both from a company-level and grassroots action by its residents.
Soon after the Haitian earthquake struck, SmallWorlds the company created a very cute virtual tee-shirt that you could purchase for US $5, which was then contributed toward Haitian relief efforts. Residents were also invited to vote in a poll for which charity should get the funds, and to talk about Haiti in their forums.
Beyond what the company has been doing, I've also been noticing a number of new spaces and missions being created about the Haiti crisis. For those that don't know, SmallWorlds is unique as one of the only youth-oriented virtual worlds that supports limited forms of user-generated content. This takes the form of creating different spaces, decorating them with furniture, objects, artwork, photos, and videos. In addition, users can create "missions" for each other -- basically mini-games and quizzes that earn you a small amount of virtual currency.
Since the crisis, I see that 37 different spaces have been created with the word "Haiti" in the title. Several are explicitly about the emergency and the disaster response. Many have their own missions embedded in them that teach you about the earthquake, Haiti and how you can help.
As a youth-populated world, it's great seeing young people using these somewhat crude tools to communicate their concern about the crisis and their desire to help. Okay, it's not the same as donating money or doing relief work in Haiti. But this is arguably a step in the right direction for a young person to be engaged with the world, using the tools and technologies that they know.
I've been invited to speak at the 2010 Stakeholder Engagement Online Conference , which is taking place March 2-4. This year’s theme is "Including the Excluded," with sub-themes on social inclusion, social/ environmental justice and accessibility of individuals with physical or mental disabilities. Most of the conference will take place using Microsoft Live Meeting webconferencing, with "virtual tours" of builds in Second Life.
Co-sponsored by PublicDecisions and LearningTimes, the event is meant to bring together the diverse community of people who work on stakeholder engagement from the public / government sector, NGOs/nonprofits, consultancies and the private sector. Likely participants include professionals in the planning, transportation, and environmental sectors; community health workers and other health professionals; school administrators; librarians; and nonprofit/NGO leaders. Sounds like my crowd.
On March 3 at 1:30pm EST I will be giving a virtual tour of Second Life, with an emphasis on the Global Kids approach to stakeholder engagement. I plan to show participants the "CONSENT!" game that our teens developed a couple of years ago on the SL Teen Grid, which has since been ported over the Main Grid. I think this is a good frame for touching on the themes of social inclusion and justice.
I've been checking in with Ms. Freereed Freenote, who is helping track and coordinate the wide variety of Virtual Haiti Relief activities happening in Second Life. It sounds like in the past week there's been a bunch of awesome virtual art shows, concerts, auctions and virtual good sales to benefit Haiti. You can see many of these yourself by searching for "Haiti" in the events section of SecondLife.com.
According to Freenote, the money raised so far totals more than US $13,000! With a number of upcoming events and matching donors on the horizon, that figure is likely to double by next week.
To contribute, help with the organizing efforts, and find out about future events head to http://virtualhaitirelief.org. Thanks for the update, Freereed!