eXtension Places in the Second Life Virtual World

October 16, 2014 Print Friendly and PDF

eXtension maintains five regions in Second Life (2014) for the purposes of orientation and training, idea testing, prototyping, and outreach to the public and other educators. A part-time consulting staff of two provides community management, training, event hosting, technical support, and limited content development. 

Content hosted on eXtension land is open to the public for self-guided exploration, and is available to any educator to use as a teaching tool. Monthly meetups for eXtension associates are held regularly on the third Thursday of the month at 12:00 noon Pacific time. Training and information events are also held in Adobe Connect, and these scheduled events are posted at learn.extension.org. Group or individual orientation sessions, tours, and support for in-world events can be arranged by contacting eXtension's Virtual Worlds Coordinator, LuAnn Phillips, at luann.phillips@extension.org

eXtension's locations of interest can be accessed directly by following a web link known as a SLURL (Second Life URL.) A free Second Life account and installed viewer software are required.

The Virtual State Fair is the home base of Cooperative Extension in Second Life. Inside the fair office you will find a display wall with teleportation links to various eXtension exhibits.  Dressing rooms are available there for changing your avatar's appearance, as well as a selection of free clothing and other helpful items, and a teleport to a new user orientation area.

The LiveAbility House is a project of the eXtension Family Caregiving Community of Practice. It is a showcase of assistive technology and universal design features used in the home. A series of digital narratives, "Sage Stories," have been developed using the Liveability House as the setting. For more information about the LiveAbility House click here.

Avian Influenza Prevention in Backyard Flocks is a project of the EDEN community of practice. This is an interactive visit to a backyard farm where you can learn safe handling practices for poultry to prevent the spread of disease. For more information about avian influenza, click here

The Virtual Food Inspector Game was created in Second Life to teach participants about foodborne hazards. Visit the local diner and discover where foodborne pathogens may be lurking. For more information about Food Safety in Second Life click here.

The Life Cycle of the Japanese Beetle is a Moodle course developed using "machinima", videos created withing Second Life. The immersive underground habitat of the white grub is reproduced in 3D in and can be visited there using your avatar. To visit the Moodle Course click here

Bed Bug Hotel teaches visitors how to avoid contact with bed bugs in their hotel when traveling. Guests check into the virtual hotel, follow a guided tour that shows where and how to search for signs of infestation, hunt for a tiny hidden bed bug (and win a prize if they find it), and settle in to watch bed bug informational videos on the hotel TV.

Avatar Fitness Club offers a social environment for changing habits and maintaining weight loss through regular exercise and nutrition education. Research at University of Kansas, funded by the Nat'l Institutes of Health, indicates that a weight loss management program using a Second Life avatar can be as effective or even more so than attendance at a physical world clinic. The club activities include nutrition education, live support groups, virtual workouts, yoga, climbing walls, treadmills, lap pool, weight room, aerobics, cycling classes, changing rooms and a lounge area.  

Reality Check Café is a companion activity for Avatar Fitness Club. How much exercise will it take to burn off your restaurant meal? Visitors explore the relationship between calorie intake and physical activity, and the importance of making smart choices when dining out. Diners order from the menu and are advised to walk across the street to the Avatar Fitness Club, where they will get a personal report of the activity needed to offset calories consumed. The cuisine and decor of the cafe cycle through a variety of cuisines: Steakhouse, Asian, Italian, Tex-Mex. Funding is sought for phase 2 of the project, when 3D models of the meals ordered will be presented, and visitors will track their avatars' physical activity over time.

The Winter Safety Game: "Grandma's Birthday Blizzard" is a seasonal learning environment open from December through March. It is a 3D immersive lesson that teaches the basics of winter safety preparedness. The challenge of the Winter Safety Game is to prepare for a winter blizzard and then to travel safely across the mountains to grandmother's 75th birthday party.  Along the way players will encounter a variety of information in context, several hazardous situations, questions to answer, and problems to solve. Collect points by interacting with the content, or by clicking on spinning snowflakes. With sufficient points at the end of the journey, players win access to the party venue to enjoy dancing, skating, fireworks, and prizes. 

Autumn in Morrill County Ahhh harvest time... The air is crisp, pumpkins and apples are ready for picking, so come explore rural America in this fictional Nebraska county. Hang out with friends at the Apple Barn, orchard, pumpkin patch and corn maze. There are four regions of Fall-themed fun and education, including favorites like the Avatar Fitness Club, Virtual State Fair, Food Safety Game, and Bedbug Hotel.

Virtual County Cooperative Extension  recreates the appearance of a brick and mortar Cooperative Extension building in fictional Morrill County. Here you will find offices for Extension programs such as Family and Consumer Sciences and Horticulture with clickable links to online information and two meeting rooms for online programming complete with refreshment tables that give out virtual coffee and snacks. 

Littletown  bridges the distance between the Reality Check Café and the IPM building. It consists of storefronts and municipal buildings found in a typical midwestern town (bank, fire dept, pizza parlor, laundromat, etc) and has frontage along Morrill Lake. The town is also a venue for various festivals such as the Winter Carnival.

IPM Warehouse is a collection of exhibits about Integrated Pest management in and around structures, and also includes a lesson on pesticide spray drift, in which visitors can fly a vintage crop duster plane and ride a spray droplet to where it lands in a neighboring residential back yard. 

Disaster Holodeck puts the visitor in control of selecting an immersive lesson from a list of choices: Feral Hogs in the front yard, Wildfire Ember Awareness, Drought in the home landscape, and Tornado facts and fiction. With a click of the mouse, the scene changes, and each has interactive and multimedia elements.

Mather Café is the home location of a University of Arkansas research project ongoing 2014-2015. The research, in cooperation with the Mather Institute on Aging, looks at the effect on measures of health and well-being in a cohort of seniors socializing in a virtual world vs Facebook. The café is modeled in the style of the innovative Mather Café Plus model located in Chicago and worldwide.

For help getting started with Second Life, go to www.extension.org/3d

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.