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Archive for October, 2010

IGI Global has published a new book titled “Teaching through Multi-User Virtual Environments: Applying Dynamic Elements to the Modern Classroom” edited by Giovanni Vincenti (Towson University, USA) and James Braman (Towson University, USA).  We have two chapters published in this book. The details are as follows:

Fewster, R., Chafer and Wood, D. (2010). Staging Second Life in real and virtual spaces. In G. Vincenti and J. Bramam (eds.) Teaching through Multi-User Virtual Environments: Applying Dynamic Elements to the Modern Classroom, IGI Global, Hershey PA, pp. 217-235.

Wood, D. (2010). The benefits and unanticipated challenges in the use of 3D virtual learning environments in the undergraduate media arts curriculum. In G. Vincenti and J. Bramam (eds.) Teaching through Multi-User Virtual Environments: Applying Dynamic Elements to the Modern Classroom, IGI Global, Hershey PA, pp. 236-257.

The book is available for purchase from url: http://www.igi-global.com/bookstore/TitleDetails.aspx?TitleId=41765&DetailsType=AffiliateBio

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I presented a paper at the Second Annual Student Equity in Higher Education National Conference in Melbourne on the 12th October, 2010.

The focus of my presentation was about the benefits and the limitations of Web 2.0 and 3D virtual learning environments based on research undertaken at the University of South Australia through funding provided by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council. The design solution presented involves the development of an accessible Web 2.0 application and a 3D Virtual World environment. The findings reported at the conference provide insight into the solutions required to ensure that Web 2.0 and 3D virtual learning technologies employed in teaching and learning are more accessible for students with disabilities.

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I presented a co-authored paper at the the 40th Public Health Association of Australia Inc (PHAA) conference in Adelaide, on the 27th September 2010.

The presentation reported on findings from research undertaken with Dr Parimala Raghavendra and Dr Lareen Newman, involving surveys and  in-depth interviews undertaken with young South Australians aged 10 to 18 with physical disabilities (mainly cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy) on their general Internet use and specific use of Web 2.0 social networking sites and 3D virtual environments.

Our preliminary analysis reported at the conference shows that the children and young people with physical disabilities who participated in the study are using the Internet to maintain current social connections and start some new activities, but widespread development of new connections and activities is uncommon. Besides disability-related factors, such as the need for assistance with keyboarding (which can reduce autonomy), other influences on use include family resources such as knowledge, skills, networks, income. For those without home Internet their school is an important source of Internet knowledge and general computer use.

The next stage of our research currently underway has extended the study to include young people with acquired brain injuries. In the coming year we will be conducting the intervention stage of the study, which will involve trialling interventions aimed at addressing the identified barriers that are impacting on the ability for young people with disabilities to make effective use of the Internet and social networking. This second stage of the project has been funded through a Channel 7 Children’s Research Foundation Grant.

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