National Institute of Health (2009)
Comparative Effectiveness Research and specific Challenge Topic, 05-LM-104:
Value of “Virtual Reality Interaction in Improving Compliance with Diabetic Regimen
This application addresses broad Challenge Area (05): Comparative Effectiveness Research and specific Challenge Topic, 05-LM-104: Value of “Virtual Reality Interaction in Improving Compliance with Diabetic Regimen.
The transition from adolescence to adulthood is a challenging time in diabetes self-management. As they move towards independence, young-adults with diabetes have diminishing support from families and health care providers, while simultaneously coping with changes in their housing, meal, school, work and leisure environments. The proposed study will target 18-28 year-olds, since limited research is available on how to improve their diabetes self-management skills. The proposed project will design, implement, and evaluate the effectiveness of a “Virtual Diabetes Center (VDC)” for young adults, with Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes, using the virtual world environment Second Life®.
Second Life® is a virtual world where people communicate as “Avatars”, computer based 3-D representations of themselves. Within Second Life®, they navigate by walking, flying and teleporting from location to location. They use voice, text chat and visual motion and gestures to communicate with people worldwide.
Initially focus groups will be conducted with current Second Life® users who have diabetes to determine how a VDC that promotes diabetes self-management skills should be designed. The VDC will focus on insulin, diet, physical activity, and self-efficacy.
After the VDC is designed, participants with type 1 and type 2 diabetes will be recruited in Boise, Idaho, from the Humphrey’s Diabetes Center. They will be randomly assigned into either a: (1) control group that receives a Face-to-Face (FTF) diabetes self-management intervention for six months or a (2) treatment group that receives a VDC diabetes self-management intervention for six months. In addition, participants in both groups will meet with health care professionals, interact with peers and attend educational sessions. Data will be collected on participants’ Hemoglobin A1c, blood pressure, Body Mass Index, quality of life and self-efficacy at base line and at the end of the 6 months.
The long-term goal of the project is to improve diabetes self-management among young adults with diabetes thereby diminishing the severity of diabetes complications, and improve their quality of life.
Idaho Technology Incentive Grant, Idaho State Board of Education (2009)
Connecting Educators Across Idaho Through Virtual Worlds
The current student body, from Kindergarten through College Freshmen, is living in a digital age. They have never known a time without personal computers or cell phones. As educators we are challenged to connect with this group by providing an increasingly mobile education.
Current online education while being highly flexible and mobile has limitations in delivery of curriculum as well as social challenges. These delivery methods are relying on technologies that are stable but generally passive, while the students are looking for interactive experiences. The student to teacher and student to student relationships cannot be fully realized in today’s typical online class environments. It is important to foster these relationships as they provide invaluable opportunities for collaboration both in and outside the classroom.
Educators at all levels need to build bridges amongst ourselves so as a group we can chart the educational needs of our society in this century. Furthermore, as educators we need to inspire students of all ages to complete their K-12 education, pursue a post-secondary education and be life-long learners. Thus we need a cost effective solution for educators to connect with colleagues and students from kindergarten through college and beyond.
We propose utilizing, immersive, interactive, real-time multi-user virtual worlds as a means of bringing people together in a collaborative environment. We will host workshops on how to use these worlds from both a pedagogical and technical aspect. Furthermore, once in-world, our educators and students can connect with the growing educational community that is utilizing virtual world technology. As our educators become more familiar with the virtual, we will assist them in translating and evolving current classes (on-line and traditional) and developing new classes for delivery in-world. We will also explore and expand the sharing of information with the global educational community through guest speakers and lecturers. The targeted outcomes for this grant are to prepare educators across Idaho to utilize evolving technologies and assist them in taking the first steps in an expanded methodology of educational delivery.
Idaho Technology Incentive Grant, Idaho State Board of Education (2010)
Making The Impossible Possible: Changing The Educational Landscape With 4D Virtual Learning
During the last year, our “Connecting Educators Across Idaho Using Virtual Worlds” grant team met with educators across the state describing and presenting the use of the virtual world, Second Life®, as an effective educational alternative to host classes, meetings and conferences, and to bridge the growing gap between educational delivery and funding. As the success of phase one continues to gain momentum, we have turned to phase two: the innovative use of the virtual world to deliver education in ways cost prohibitive or impossible for the “real” world. Phase one transliterated the presentation techniques of discussions, slides, and videos. Phase two will translate classroom methods and develop new interactive techniques that can only be delivered in the virtual. The new methods created from this especiation will inform both the contemporary as well as the evolving pedagogy of learning experiences and outcomes.
One example of contemporary pedagogy is Loyalist College in Belleville, Ontario, Canada who has been successful at using a training simulator hosted within Second Life® to improve the education of students, who become Canadian Border Control Agents. After 9/11, training interns at a physical border crossing was no longer possible. In response, face-to-face role-playing to train interns in interviewing techniques was employed with moderate success. After creating a border crossing simulator in Second Life® the effectiveness of the interview training yielded an average grade increase from 58% to 86%.
Through this grant, we will design and build a Nutrition Education simulation and a Financial Literacy simulation in Second Life® that will work with and beyond the K-12 – higher education classrooms. We will promote a virtual Idaho education community using partnerships with education, Extension, and private-public groups. Furthermore we will create a “How To” guidebook for educators to use while creating and using 4D educational programming.