Thursday, November 11, 2010

Digital Natives are let's take a tour!

Anders Gronstedt's popular virtual training group, "Train for Success" had a great virtual tour lined up today.

Thomas Stead, from the Virtual Power Station and Grid SLurl: --we could walk through and experience a virtual model of America’s second largest coal-fired power station. Developed as part of a $5.1 MM WIRED Grant from the U.S. Dept. of Labor, this huge, fully animated, cut-away schematic of a coal fired power plant features huge firey furnaces, boilers, steam turbines, generator and it’s attached power grid complete from the plant to the consumer. See: and for more info! 

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Relaying for Life

Once again, "Team Texas Aggie" had a presence at the annual Relay for Life (RFL) fundraiser and charity 24-hour relay.  Second Life-RFL works hard to be a support for caregivers and cancer survivors and does not require large expenditures in travel, expense, or effort to participate and the benefits are great. Both groups (caregivers and survivors) are honored at this online event.  The grand total (drum roll please) was a whopping $222,204 US dollars going to the ACS to eradicate cancer!  Go Team!  Go Relay!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

What would be the value?

What would be the value of a person who was quite knowledgeable in the mannerisms and colloquialisms of the famous character/author Mark Twain (aka Samuel Clements) actually showing up at an online event and speaking and acting like the famous author?

Well, a number of Aggies found out first hand in Second Life on April 13th as Mark Twain (the avatar) made a guest appearance during the Live Streaming event of Dr. Jerry Loving's distinguished lecture series. Dr. Loving, a Distinguished Professor in English at Texas A&M University, spoke about his new book on Mark Twain. The lecture was streamed in real-time to a group of Aggies online in the 3D world. Dr. Loving even took a question from the SL Audience!

Afterward, Mark Twain, the avatar, expressed a few comments about the lecture and the group discussed their new learning about the life of Mark Twain. Several attendees also came in period dress of Mark Twain's adventurous time. So, what would be the value to have a role-play of authors or other notable figures no longer living? What is the value of the attendees experiencing period dress and customs of particular time periods and cultures?

Imagine the possibilities!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

An Historic Event!

It was an historic event! For the first time, a live video stream from Texas A&M University came to the Texas A&M Second Life campus. In real-time, we sat and listened to a Distinguished Lecture Series presentation, “How Organisms Tell Time,” by Deborah Bell-Pedersen, professor of biology at Texas A&M. The streaming video provided a virtual venue for those who could not attend in person--and those in the SL audience interacted in real-time as well.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Mixed Reality Events

Mixed Reality Events= RL + SL participation

I have been exploring "mixed reality" events in Second Life......where face-to-face (Real Life "RL") meetings join with participants in Second Life (SL) such that "Mixed Reality" events comprise RL+SL participation. I have discovered that this remote access makes it feasible for those in geographically disbursed locations to access events in RL and have a "voice" in the conversation. I will outline 3 experiences I've explored in the venue of mixed reality events:

1) Recently, I joined in a SL discussion as Linden Labs unveiled their beta "enterprise" version of Second Life (see: ) intended for organizations wanting to add SL "behind-the-fire-wall". At this mixed reality event, the CEO of Linden Labs spoke in California to a RL audience and it was streamed into SL at various locations. I was "inworld" at Rockliffe University listening to the press conference while interacting with others in the SL environment as we explored the implications for organizations.
According to "Already, 14 organizations are participating in the beta program for Second Life Enterprise. This list includes: IBM, Northrop Grumman, Naval Undersea Warfare Center, DefenseWeb Technologies, Case Western Reserve University, The New Media Consortium, among others." (see:

2) Educause: this ev
ent took place in RL in Denver, Colorado, but I joined in the conversation in SL at the Montclair University campus & heard AJ Kelton conduct the Virtual Worlds Constituent Group meeting in real time.

(see: for a written transcript and additional photos). Others joined in the discussion from Heritage Key as well.

3) Texas A&M University's Second Life User's Group meeting: I joined the others who were present in RL in College Station, Texas, while I was "present" in Second Life and could hear my colleagues' comments on their experiences with student learning in this virtual environment.

So, what did I learn from these 3 meetups? I see that SL is a viable option for distance learning, group meetings and virtual conferences!! The ROI: increased "presence" in distance learning experiences, savings in travel time, travel expenses, and greater attendance and diversity of participants from geographically disbursed locations. It's a win-win solution!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

"Creating the Largest Virtual Community in Existence"

Yesterday, I visited the UTMB building spot. As you may know, the University of Texas System has invested 6 figures into purchasing about 48 islands in the virtual world, Second Life to link remotely to it's 16 institutions which include UT-Tyler, UT Medical Branch, and UT Southwestern Medical School. See:

According to press reports, UT System is creating
"The largest virtual community in existence".

Think of all those possibilities for virtual training and virtual learning!!

How cool is that??!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Exploring Teaching & Training Tools

Tonite, I met with Jennette Forager [see:]
and the Immersion group @ the SMART HOUSE @ Epoch Institute as we looked at some cool teaching and training tools in Second Life. While there we had many interesting previews and discussions.

One discussion centered around the fact that many universities have been investing heavily in Second Life spaces for teaching and learning. This fact coupled with alerts that most universities are giving as of late regarding contingency plans and warnings for flu outbreaks made us muse about the possible use of SL when students are home sick but needing to continue meeting with classmates. We all agreed that SL was a wonderful immersive technology that could easily be done from home as long as students have a little training.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Texas A&M University's Second Life Campus

I've been very busy in Second Life on the development team who is building the Texas A&M University's Second Life campus. This virtual space will be enhancing and enabling distance and oncampus learning for students at TAMU.

See more pictures at:

Monday, July 27, 2009

It's been a busy year!

It's been quite a while since I blogged...not because I haven't been active in the SL community, but rather the contrary--I've been very busy so I want to recap some of my memorable adventures in SL as of late.

Since my last posting, I've participated frequently in the SL Educator's Roundtable Group where educators from K-16 come together from around the world to discuss timely issues [see: ];

I captained the Relay for Life "Team Texas Aggie" where the Second Life community as a whole raised an astonishing $270,388 for fighting cancer (see: ! Go Relay! The most meaningful part was cheering on Cancer Survivors and Caregivers as they Relayed. Many of them commented that it was their only chance to participate in RFL due to their health, time and distance constraints. Relaying in a virtual world like SL just "makes sense".

I've also been busy as well as helping with the Texas A&M University virtual campus due to come online soon!

As time has progressed, my efforts in SL have focused on enhancing learning and making the "real world" a better place.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Science Friday...Keeping our 2009 Resolutions

I have been attending weekly "Science Friday" presentations in SL for almost a year now. I think its a great model to link K-12 as well as college/university-level scientists together for timely topics.

This model links avatars "in world" in SL as well as streaming NPR Radio broadcast in real-time. I especially like how the "in world" science educators can "chat" type in comments as we sit and listen to Ira and the broadcast. Today, we heard from Edward P Krenzelok Director, Pittsburgh Poison Center University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Professor of Pharmacy and Pediatrics Gordon J. Vanscoy Chair in Pharmacy University of PittsburghPittsburgh, Pennsylvania who discussed safety issues over the holidays--including ingested plant substances, preparing and keep holiday food safe, and how to contact Poison Control Center.

Additionally, we discussed the psychology behind New Year's Resolutions for 2009. The guest was John C. Norcross Clinical PsychologistDistinguished Professor, Psychology University of ScrantonScranton, Pennsylvania. He advocated reasonable, measurable goals. 75% will be successful for one week and drops to about 40% after 6 months. He has several research studies to back up his data. Interesting discussion about motivation for making/keep resolutions! He said get one or more friends (can even be different goals for each) to supporting each other to succeed!

Those who don't have a SL link, can still listen at: which also contains more info including archived posts.

The Science Friday land at: that have asynchronous science displays including some great videos!

Explore today!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Fall is in the air....

Fall is in the air.....and I've been very busy with the Aggie Student Group in SL. Our Halloween party was fun with Aggie friends.

Then, the first part of November, we built the Aggie Bonfire Memorial to honor those that lost their lives and those that were injured in the 1999 Bonfire collapse. We held a candlelit memorial ceremony on 11/16/08 at 2:42 a.m. (the time the bonfire collapsed). [See images/story behind the Memorial built on the campus at:]

This past week, we spent time in world building the Aggie bonfire stack (a cherished tradition accompanying the pep rally of yesteryear) Aggies came together to share memories of the 90 years of official Bonfire builds (1909-1999). One participant even remarked that the build was so good--she could smell the diesel in the air...and it smelled like victory against tu! We were thankful that we have a safe, immersive environment for remembering Aggie traditions, to meet new friends, and renew our commitment to Aggieland. [see video at: ]

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The New Psychology

I was very impressed with Milton Broom's discussion last month. His avatar is a proxy for University of Derby Research and Teaching in the 3D multi-user virtual environment 'Second Life'--see and he delivered an excellent training on Aspergers Syndrome/Autism last month at the Autism Society of America.

It is interesting to see a Pyschologist to discuss and inform a group that might not otherwise access this help due to the very nature of their disability. Following Milton's presentation, there was an interesting reaction and discussion from the audience which confirmed much of what was discussed with anecdotal information from the viewpoint of those who live daily with autism.

The society was very welcoming to me, an outsider.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Value Added

I think that my focus in SL has evolved over the past year and a half to the point that I will continue to explore SL --but have committed to managing the Texas A&M Student Group that has now grown to 60+ members and are very diverse in abilities and interests.

This past weekend, I experienced the thrill of the Relay for Life (RFL) Finale of events. The RFL effort in SL has raised over $200,000 USD for the American Cancer Society to fight cancer. I was changed forever coming virtually face-to-face with Cancer Survivors and Caregivers. They were so very appreciative of all the efforts that the Aggie Team and other teams gave them to support them in their plight. I read many of their stories and how Second Life affords them the opportunity to participate in the Relay--when their health and schedules would have otherwise eliminated that chance.

With rising energy and living costs, a virtual environment like Second Life offers a flexible learning space for collaboration, training, and human resource development. I feel my time is well spent in SL as I research the best ways for virtual learning, research and interventions.
Please stay with me as I continue on my journey in Second Life. Please add comments or email me at:

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Google Lively

World2Worlds had a great discussion last Saturday, July 12th to discuss the new beta version of Google Lively that was released last week. See their blog:

The pros seem to be that it runs on a web browser and can be embedded in Facebook, MySpace and other social networking sites. The downside seems to be that it does not run on Macs and Linux platform systems for now.

But, it certainly does have the potential to get alot more people involved in virtual meetings with a "presence" (by creating an avatar) and getting used to this concept as a tool for dialogue.


Sunday, June 1, 2008

Celebrating Cancer Survivor's Day in SL!

$91,000 US dollars raised already in Second Life to benefit the American Cancer Society through the Relay for Life (RFL) fundraising campaign.

Today is the RFL Halfway There Fair.....50 days to the end of RFL '08

I saw lots of fun activities! Come by and take a look!


Monday, April 21, 2008

Virtual-Aggie Muster

Softly Call the Muster.....

Tonite was an awesome night to be an Aggie in SL! We had a solemn, but informative "Muster" program for Aggies and guests. We learned about the history of the Aggie Muster and we held our candles high and remembered those who left us this past year.

Following Muster, we had a "Celebrate Life" dance at the new Aggie property...I filled in as DJ. We had lots of great music and dancing....and we raised another 5000+ Lindens tonite for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life (RFL) as the Texas Aggie RFL team.

Click the link above to see the great pictures that the Relay for Life photographer put in Flickr also!


Monday, March 31, 2008

Mexico Tourism

Thinking about travelling today....

I set out to explore the "Visit Mexico" tourism site:
~Chichen Itza~Archeologic, Visit Mexico (173, 123, 37)

As I arrived, I was given a Mayan Princess outfit, climbed and explored a Mayan Pyramid, and then rode a gorgeous blue butterfly for a tour of the sim. A whole new way to promote tourism!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


At the Aggie Chat (a weekly meeting of grad students, faculty & friends) last night, we toured the memorials set up to remember the victims of Virginia Tech and the soldiers who died in the Vietnam War. They were both thoughtfully done.

But, I have to say, the most disturbing of all, was the thought that there was much more land to build on at both places--telling me that we have not seen an end to violence or death by wars we must fight.

Second Life has a unique way of combining graphics, video, and sound to experience events in a way that you have not before. And, you have a presence in that experience and you will remember it.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

ASTD--American Society for Training & Development

Happy Easter!

I wanted to share a few thoughts with you about training in Second Life. First, I attended a great session last week at Train for Success. Thanks to Anders Wildcat (Anders Gronstedt, Ph.D in "real life"--RL--see:, I was able to hear Anthony Allen from ASTD talk about the unveiling of their new sim island in SL.
According to Anders: "The American Society for Training & Development, ASTD, just unveiled its island in Second Life. Meet Anthony Allen, director of digital media for ASTD, this Thursday at Train for Success, to learn how the world's largest association dedicated to workplace learning and performance professionals views virtual worlds and how it plans to use its Second Life presence"

I decided to teleport to the ASTD island and have a look around. I found 5 main areas including a welcome area, orientation training for newbies, a large meeting area, several break off areas and even a campfire area. It's great to see that an organization as large as ASTD is getting on board!

I learned from the presentation that SL is considered just one of many virtual worlds termed the "Metaverse" that 0rganizations are looking at for training and conducting business. One of the boards on their island told it all:

"Second Life is one of many 3D virtual worlds that can improve communication, learning and understanding between people that would otherwise be separated by geography, personality type, or work title. ASTD acknowledges that 3D communication tools offer the potential for richer communication than 2D tools such as email, instant messaging, and blogs. Virtual environments and relationships will almost certainly be part of learning in the future"
ASTD "gets it"....they see that Web 2.0 is now becoming 3.0 and virtual worlds and environments are becoming more robust spaces for connecting, learning, and training!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Wearing of the Green

It was a fine night at the St. Patrick's Day Party at the Aggie Beach House...friends stopped by to donate to the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life (RFL) fundraising campaign. Dona was spinning some good ole' Rock & Roll tunes!