Posts Tagged ‘3D Virtual Worlds’

It was a hectic start to December. From presenting at the ASCILITE conference in Auckland I flew to Sydney to present with colleague, Dr Anna Hickey-Moody from the University of Sydney at the Australian Anthropological Annual Conference held at Macquarie University.

The theme of the conference was the “Ethics of and Politics of Engagement” and the paper we presented was titled the “Ethics of Affect in Second Life” based on our ethnographic research with individuals in Second Life who identify as disabled.

The details of the conference are here: http://www.anth.mq.edu.au/conf/theme/ and you can download the program complete with abstracts: http://www.anth.mq.edu.au/conf/program/AAS2009_program.pdf

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The ASCILITE 2009 conference was held at the University of Auckland from the 6-9th November, 2009. The conference theme  “Same places, different spaces” generated many papers focusing on topics such as blended learning, virtual learning environments, social spaces, mobile and work spaces: http://www.ascilite.org.au/conferences/auckland09/?m=Programme&s=Themes

I presented a paper based on trials of the use of the 3D virtual world, Second Life, for service learning in which my students undertook projects with disability and health related groups in SecondLife: http://www.ascilite.org.au/conferences/auckland09/procs/wood.pdf

I also co-presented a co-authored paper with UniSA colleague, Russell Fewster on practice led research in 3D virtual worlds within the performing arts discipline: http://www.ascilite.org.au/conferences/auckland09/procs/fewster.pdf

Student dancer and avatar dancers performing in Second Life

Looking forward to ASCILITE 2010!

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I had the privilege of speaking on the topic of accessibility of social media at the Gov2.0 Roundtable on the 26th of November at Australian Parliament House, Canberra.

Senior government leaders and industry met in Canberra on the 26 November, 2009 to discuss accessibility of government communications services for people with disabilities hosted by the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) and Senator for the ACT Kate Lundy.

The nation’s key decision makers discussed issues of social inclusion and communications accessibility, the changing role of citizen participation and planning for a more accessible government and was opened by Senator Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.

Other speakers at the seminar included: Senator Kate Lundy, Bill Shorten, Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children’s Services, Dr Nicholas Gruen, Chair of the Government 2.0 Taskforce, Graeme Innes AM, Disability Discrimination Commissioner and Abul Rizvi, Deputy Secretary, Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.

The program for the event follows:

Gov2.0 Roundtable on Accessibility for People with Disabilities

9:00    Welcome to Country – Matilda House

9:05    Introduction – Sue Salthouse, ACCAN Board Member and Chair of ACCAN’s Standing Advisory Committee on Disability Issues

9:10    Opening remarks – Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy

Availability, Accessibility and Affordability

9:20    Social Inclusion and Communications Accessibility– Graeme Innes AM, Disability Discrimination Commissioner

9:40    The role of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – Kevin Cocks, CEO of Queensland Advocacy Incorporated

10:00 Discussion

What is Happening?

10:15   Accessible media developments-Dr. Scott Hollier, Media Access Australia and member of ACCAN’s Standing Advisory Committee on Disability Issues

10:35   Maximising accessibility in communications– Bert Ciavarra Disability Services Coordinator, Telstra

10:55   Indigenous and remote online participation – Heron Loban, Chair of Indigenous Consumer Assistance Network and ACCAN Board member

11:15   Accessibility and social networking tools– Dr Denise Wood, Senior Lecturer, University of South Australia, ACCAN’s Standing Advisory Committee on Disability Issues

11:35   Public procurement in ICT – Gunela Astbrink, Manager, Disability Policy and Research, ACCAN

11:55 Discussion

Where we are Going?

12:15   The changing role of citizen participation – Senator Kate Lundy

12:30   Planning for a more accessible Government – Abul Rizvi, Deputy Secretary, DBCDE

12:40 Discussion

1:00    Closing remarks – Dr Nicolas Gruen, Chair of Gov2.0 Taskforce

1:10    Summary of actions from Roundtable – Allan Asher, CEO, ACCAN

1:25    Close of Roundtable

The full  report of the Gov2.0 task force is now available.

The audio of the Roundtable is now available from Senator Kate Lundy’s website and will be transcribed shortly.

My presentation focused on:

  1. The benefits of social networking and 3D virtual worlds for people with disabilities and those in situations where they find it difficult to interact directly with others on a daily basis;
  2. The challenges imposed by these environments and I will here mention technical issues relating to accessibility; attitudinal barriers; issues relating to regional location and lack of access to affordable bandwidth; responsibilities of Internet Service Providers (ISPs), the need for community support services and the need for education;
  3. Some of the initiatives under way to address these challenges, and the barriers that impede these efforts;
  4. The opportunities that Government 2.0 holds if these challenges can be met.

My full report will be available for download from Senator Kate Lundy’s site in the near future.

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I was invited to present at the AARNeT hosted Virtual Worlds Workshop at the University of Wollongong, New South Wales on the 17th September.

There were 23 attendees at the workshop including representatives from AARNet, AIT Sydney, Audio Visual Services  (UTS), Australian National University, Charles Sturt University, Cisco, Electroboard, Flinders University,  NSW Department of Education and Training (x3), Scientific Acoustics, UoW/Smart Services Cooperative Research Centre, Sony Australia Ltd, University of South Australia, University of Southern Queensland, University of Wollongong  (x2) and Wenona School.

The speakers at the event included Mandy Salomon (Swinburne/SSCRC), Danny Stefanovic & Wes Ward (ExitReality), Farzad Safaei (UoW/SSCRC), Scott Grant (Monash), Denise Wood (UNISA) and our coordinator and speaker Lindy McKeown (USQ).  Brett and Jason (AARNet) did any excellent job with audio/video support.

The talks are available online at

My presentations are available from:

AARnet hosted Virtual Worlds Workshop, University of Wollongong

More photos from the day can be seen at:

AARNet did a superb job in supporting 3 virtual worlds at the event including SecondLife (SL, Meerkat viewers), ExitReality, iSee platforms.   It was a truly international tour with local and remote audio and video management on the fly.

The feedback from attendees was very positive noting speakers being pressed for time with a suggestion it should be a whole day!  All feedback rated at 4-5 (agree/strongly agree) with all positive statements on the general workshop, content and presenters.  Further discussions with NSW Sept of Education identified research opportunities and further ways for AARNet to engage with NSW DET, SSCRC, Nortel and others on an NBN testbed infrastructure that could support one or more virtual worlds.

According to James Sankar who organised the day “The main message is that a lot is happening in virtual worlds to support teaching, learning and collaboration, the main barrier to its use lies in effective IT service support to provide zero or low cost access and networking for performance with storage options for backup.  There are a range of platforms available at high and low cost to deploy, operate, customise, maintain.  Ideally a platform that can support multiple virtual world platforms with the ability to transfer the avatar, buildings and inventories is the way to go.  CAPEX and software development is only part of the answer, marketing, engagement with real users is also key to successful use of the technology”.

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In my August segment on Radio 5RPH I spoke about the experiential learning our Web design students are undertaking in which they are creating accessible websites for organisations and volunteer groups. I spoke in particular about one of my courses (Accessible Interactive Media) in which the students are creating accessible sites for disability and health related groups in Second Life. Their clients include The Health Support Coalition, Alliance Library (Healthinfo Island) and Virtual Helping Hands. I conduct a virtual tutorial class with the students each week in Second Life during which time we review the progress they are making on their projects and discuss any challenges they have experienced in working with groups in virtual worlds.

I also discussed the work our students are doing with the SA Government Office for Volunteers in a program founded by a colleague, Phil Marriott, called Sustainable Online Engagement.

You can listen to the radio program from this url: http://www.unisanet.unisa.edu.au/3dvle/media/rph_ll2_290809.mp3

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The Independent Weekly ran a story in its ‘Specturm’ section about our research into accessibility solutions in 3D virtual environments for people with disabilities, with a particular focus on the technologies under development to increase the participation of students with disabilities within 3D virtual learning environments.

The article is viewable online at http://www.indaily.com.au/?iid=28172 (page 18 of 42).

This article was followed-up with an interview by Peter Godfrey from Radio Adelaide on the Breakfast Show, 19th august.

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I was invited to present on the topic ‘Webs, Wikis, Blogs and Avatars’ at the Australian Tertiary Education Management Regional Conference at a breakfast session on the 12th August 2009.

You can view my presentation online at: http://prezi.com/1shaozw87x-q/

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