The University of Southern Queensland reports that their Australian Centre for Sustainable Catchments (ACSC) is launching a program to educate rural Indian farmers about predicting climatic changes, using the virtual world Second Life. For those who understand the high technical demands of Second Life, you might be asking how poor farmers in remote regions are going to benefit from information disseminated over this online platform?
It seems that Second Life is being used as the platform for recording conversations among ACSC staff and students, simulating two Indian farmers having a casual talk about weather, but also imparting critical climatic information. According to the release, the Indian farmers will "listen in" over the thousands of internet connection spots that have been distributed recently all over India.
While the press release doesn't say it, it appears that they will be using machinima (video captured live from a virtual world or digital game) to simulate the conversation. As director of the ACSC Roger Stone is quoted as saying "If any bit of clothing or scenery was off, the farmers wouldn’t have it." Which indicates that they will be using a visual medium to convey the information, not just a recorded audio conversation.
Essentially it seems that Second Life is being used as a relatively inexpensive and quick means to create a digitally animated video to educate these poor farmers. Which is a great application of virtual worlds for education, in my opinion. I hope we get to see the final product soon.
Full press release here. (Hat tip: Tateru Nino at Massively.com)
[Related articles: My list of "Social Issue Machinima."]