Today Dr Susan Penner of the USF School of Nursing invited me to visit her class's SecondLife projects.
I was thoroughly impressed by how much this professor and her nursing students were able to create in a few short hours on SecondLife. What made it especially impressive was the fact that Dr Penner had only a few months experience on SL and her students had never used SL before this class.
Last February, JJ Drinkwater, CeAire Decosta, Rudolfo Woodget and I presented a workshop about using SecondLife for the faculty at the University of San Francisco. Dr Susan Penner was among the faculty who attended this workshop, and she decided to incorporate SL into her next course
In September, I visited her first inworld session. None of her students had ever used SL before. She provided them with premade avatars and brought them inworld as a group during a regular class session.
They behaved like typical newbies, mostly trying to figure out how to walk, run, and change their appearance. SL and the USF computer network were not very cooperative, and they kept crashing.
Frankly, I left thinking they weren't going to be able to accomplish much, using SecondLife as just one aspect of a one-semester course.
Today I was invited to view their class projects. I was blown away - these total newbies, most of whom spent less than 20 hours inworld, had created interesting projects with good builds.
How did Dr Penner accomplish this? She used one of SL's major strengths - the willingness to share, teach and help that is such a striking part of our SecondLife culture. She teamed her students up with experienced SL builders, who were happy to share their knowledge, teach basic building techniques and help with the more advanced aspects of each project. This allowed her students to create builds that went far beyond what most could have accomplished in a single semester.
Here's what I saw:
A tatoo parlor that dispenses information about Sexually Transmitted Diseases. San Francisco recently started dispensing this type of information if real life tatoo parlors, so this build couldn't be more timely.
A tent that provides one-stop preparation for health workers being sent overseas in an emergency. Here they can get their inoculations, arrange their visas, and obtain other necessary information and equipment. If such places don't already exist in real life, they definitely should.
An ambulance that displays slides about the F.A.S.T. protocol for assessing trauma. FAST is a set of observational tests that are used by paramedics and first responders. Dr Penner created this project, working alongside her students.
An informational build for expectant mothers. It includes billboards about such topics as nutrition, fetal development, and government assistance programs for pregnant women and young children. In real life, a set of posters like this would be a wonderful addition to a medical clinic or WIC intake station. It's not possible for many nursing students to visit these facilities in real life, so visiting them on SecondLife is a useful substitute.