This Thursday 12\04\08 at 5SLT my students and I will be hosting an event in SL to show the projects they have completed this semester. Earlier this semester my undergraduate class was awarded a C.A.S.E. grant from the Jimmy and Roselynn Carter foundation to promote community engagement in SL. Each project completed this semester has a community engagement focus. The
Four projects are:
Problem: Physical, social and political disasters are often so geographically and culturally remote that people who might help fail to appreciate the nature and extent of the situation.
Solution: One UT team proposal would use the CASE grant to build an online, multi-player, virtual-world game to simulate life in Darfur, wherein survival is the object and famine, displacement and armed conflict are the opponents. Game players will realize how much is taken for granted in peace and prosperity and how important even small contributions can be in a disaster. Another project provides a virtual “ride” that helps participants understand the work of the nonprofit website Nothing But Nets.
Problem: An Austin (TX) nonprofit reaches out to needy individuals in
rural Texas, but the cost of covering long distances reduces the effectiveness of the organization.
Solution: One UT team proposal would use the CASE grant to build an online, virtual world extension of the agency’s operations that would make it virtually costless to operate remotely. But rather than trying to envision every conceivable combination of circumstances and program a software solution that covers all of them, the UT student solution engages the nonprofit staff as avatars, thereby incorporating all their experience and troubleshooting skills. Further, client avatars can characterize their needs far more accurately and far faster than a “checklist” of options. The combination eliminates travel and remote operation cost without eliminating the skilled human intervention of the non-profit’s staff.
Problem: Austin (TX) SafePlace is the nation’s largest shelter for victims of domestic violence. Training new associates at SafePlace is “baptism by fire” because the problems trainees face are “live” and often overwhelming.
Solution: One UT team proposal would use the CASE grant to build an online, virtual world simulation of SafePlace where the avatars of trainees can learn to diagnose and deal with problems from hypothetical cases, safely apart from the actual operation of the shelter. The result is safe training for SafePlace. Plus, the students plan to hold a fund-raising “gala” online where participants from around the world can use “Linden dollars” to purchase necessities for shelter clients, then UT students will convert the “Linden dollars” to actual cash and purchase the items.
Please join us if you can and help celebrate the work of the students. The event will be held on Educators Coop 1 http://slurl.com/secondlife/Educators%20Coop%201/121/95/22
Hope to see you there,