ABC Island Progressing

ABC staffer Abi Goldflake has provided an update to the ABC Friends group in-world on progress with the island’s development:

“We are very pleased to be working with key Oz creative organisations on the ABC Island
project: LAMP (Laboratory for Advanced Media Production) and AFTRS (Australian Film, TV and Radio School). Gary Hayes from LAMP is providing consultancy services on the development of the ABC Island and he will also be managing the relationship with AFTRS students who will help create 3D builds, sound and music scapes for the island. Will be great to work with ABC Friends on the build too as we progress.”

Flying Librarians of Oz

Had a very informative conversation with Emerald Dumont, an Australian in-world librarian. Emerald has been involved in the establishment of an Australian Library service in SL.

Established on Cybrary City in November 2006 it is being co-ordinated by Emerald, with another 14 Australian library folk joining in.

Emerald cites networking, fun, playfulness, a rapid increase in IT skills and a chance to learn a new interface as some reasons why she is there.

“There are over 900 librarians setting up services on the 7 islands around Info Island”, she said.

“Together we are grappling with customer service issues like whether doors discourage visitors – we are experimenting with removing them totally from our buidings. We are creating links to library resources outside second life, have RSS feeds and search engines available within our libraries, are holding author talks, staffing reference desks, creating displays and offering our libraries as community meeting places. We have even had historical figures, like Henry VIII, talk about their lives”.

Emerald would like to hear from Australians in Second Life about what they want from the library. “As well as providing information, I’d like to see it used as a gathering place for Australians who didn’t want to hang out in pubs. The top floor could be used as a community meeting room, as happens in real life libraries”.

Kathryn Greenhill, the real life librarian behind Emerald Dumont, is giving a talk about library services in Second Life at the National Library as part of its “Digital Culture” series. It’s titled “Flying Librarians of Oz: What’s all the fuss about Second Life and what’s it got to do with libraries?”.

FAST FACTS

Australian Libraries Building
Flying Librarians of Oz talk: 14th February 12:30pm, National Library Lecture Theatre, Canberra
More about the Australian Libraries Building: virtual.librariesinteract.info

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Students tend to use Google or Wikipedia as their first port of call in researching for information these days. Emerald’s library service could change this as more and more library and librarian services find themselves developing an SL service.

In fact, the idea of “Ask a Librarian” could be back in vogue with quality SL libraries like Australian Libraries Building and librarians such as Emerald being available to answer your query.

Health Care – Second Life Style

The issue of Addiction in Second Life has been discussed previously, but there’s a much wider scope in Second Life for the issue of health. Ask any health professional what their definition of health is and you’ll get a very different answer every time. The World Health Organisation states that: “health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”, and that’s as good a definition as you’ll find.

Even though health is so much more than hospitals, they deserve a mention. As of now, there are no Australian health services with a presence in SL, hospital or otherwise. At an international level, finding health services in-world tends to lead to things like Danvers State Hospital (pictured), which is offering themed rental like no other. There is also a real-life Danvers Insane Asylum and neither particularly help to remove the stereotype of mental health care options. Add to that groups like the Fake Doctors Association and the colourful side of the equation is well serviced.

Support for Healing Island (pictured) is a well known support service for anyone wanting to talk about an issue, but otherwise there’s very little around that I’ve come across as yet.

Is this due to lack of R&D funds for health services to investigate innovative ways of delivering health care or a general lack of awareness and understanding? The Education sector leads the way in this area, with health lagging, at best. The Australian scene is even less evolved and the University
sector will probably need to lead the way if any real progress is to be made.

One other thing – we love being proved wrong at SLOz – if you know of health services in-world that we’ve missed, we’d love to hear about them.

Australian media attention grows on SL (and SLOz!)

We’re not the sort of site to brag, but we have to say we’re thrilled with the positive response received from Australian mainstream media and tech bloggers over the past week to our press release promoting Aussies innovating in SL. To date we’ve had coverage from:

1. PC World / Computer World

2. Sydney Morning Herald

3. Respected tech journo, Brad Howarth

4. Techcraunch

and

5. Gamer newswire

The best thing to come from the coverage is a growing awareness that there are aussies out there doing innovative stuff in a new area. What it also shows is the need for the Australian SL community to work collaboratively where possible to ensure we punch above our weight in the broader SL community. Of course, we’d suggest that this site is the best central point in real-life, particularly our discussion forums, but of course the final decision is up to you.

University of Southern Queensland is first Australian University presence

I don’t think the electrons had finished spinning when I received comments / emails from Sean FitzGerald and Decka Mah that there was indeed an Australian University that had an SL presence.

And what a presence!

The University of Southern Queensland in conjunction with the Queensland Government have an entire island in-world at SL.

Terra Incognita Visitor Centre

Terra Incognita is a dynamic and intriguing mix of colour, sound and areas aimed at exploring online learning environments within the SL world. It is worth a look because it is currently setting the standard for showcasing Australian tertiary education in this new medium.

One of the striking features is the fact that the developer team, led by Decka Mah (aka in RL as Lindy McKeown) have gone for a design theme that does not mirror the RL USQ. This is something that the USA universities currently in SL seem to have done – Ohio Uni for example.

What will be intriguing to see over the coming year is how USQ makes use of this experience to enhance learning for it’s students and the teaching experience for it’s lecturers and tutors.

On another level the fact that the Queensland Government have backed this project examples the ideal of the “Clever Nation” ideal espoused some years ago.

A visit to Terra Incognita is well worth the effort. You won’t find it by doing a search in SL, as I found out… :-)

New site for Aussie Mac Educators

Aus MacEd is a new site for Mac-based educators recently launch, and a pretty sight for sore eyes it is. Recommended reading if you’re part of the target group.

Linden claim Aussie language skills

In an announcement today on the appointment of two new multilingual Linden support staff, the claim was made that a number of other staff have Australian speaking abilities. If you’ve come across such a Linden we’d love to hear from you to test the claims by interviewing the said staff member ;-)

Uni Degrees Way Above Zero!

Second Life will undoubtedly affect the way in which tertiary education is delivered.

I say this after doing a search of the term “university” on SL the other night. Whilst the usual mish-mash of results occurred, what was extremely interesting was the number of universities that had established a serious presence in SL.

As yet there is no Australian presence, however I would not be surprised to see some of our premier universities such as the 2006 Commonwealth University of the Year, University of Wollongong, showing up there some time soon.

The prospects for distance education courses are an obvious dimension that SL would substantially change in terms of costs, lecture material, communication and student / lecturer interaction. However, it also begs the question as to whether the idea of on-campus and off-campus course structures could, would and will change.

A perusal of the search results on SL show that some of the universities; Rockcliffe University, Ohio University, San Diego State University (the top three by traffic numbers) are exploring their presence and the kind of options they can offer current and prospective students. As the front runners, other universities (competitors in the world market place) may find themselves playing catchup at a cost.

Assuming that the global market is just that, we will no doubted see these SL campuses of Real Life (RL) centres for learning providing fully recognized programs at competitive rates.

The effect that will have on Australia’s HECS scheme, and indeed, the funding and viability of universities in this country is a definite area of concern, if not interest.

I’m a D-List Blogger!!

According to the Bloglebrity (there’s language mangling at its best) widget, I’m only a D-list blogger beacuse Technorati says I only have one site linking to me. Therefore I get to proudly display this:

D-List Blogger

SLOz HQ – The Build Part 1

We’re a little excited here at SLOz – we’ve taken the first step toward our in-world presence. We’ve purchased land in the appropriately named ‘Koala’ sim (it’s dinky, but what the hell). Like the proverbial quarter-acre block in the suburbs, we intend on starting out small but the SLOz HQ will pack a punch. We’re a big believer in transparency so we’ll describe the build as it happens, which will hopefully help other aussies looking at building in-world. More news when things start moving.

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