Angelica’s (Katie’s) Page

My Experience with Second Life (SL) as a Graduate Student

When first receiving my assignment to SL for my graduate assistantship, I did not know what to expect but I went in with an open mind. Previously, I had no experience working with or being apart of a virtual world. When arriving in SL, I created my avatar, Angelica Tremmor. This was a neat experience because I could make the avatar to my preferences and become whoever I wanted without judgment. After this, I explored SL a little on my own and was amazed at the details of the worlds and all the opportunities the SL had to offer. We had a new student orientation with the present SL graduate students. In the beginning this was the best learning experience I could have had. We had a building class which I think was essential because building exhibits highlighting OT is one of our main tasks. In these orientation sessions we also learned about teleporting, communicating with other avatars, navigating SL, using our toolbars, and how to perform different functions. One of my favorite training experiences was when our graduate student mentors took us on an excursion to a Halloween ride. Their goal was to have us practice teleporting to a new location and back home, but it promoted group cohesion and allowed us to see the fun experiences SL had to offer. These learning experiences expanded my knowledge of SL and it became more than just a graduate assistantship for me, I began to enjoy SL for pleasure as well.

Our first main project we completed was the Adaptive Playground. This is a playground in SL built to promote accessibility and inclusion for children of all ages and ability levels. We built each aspect of the playground using evidence based practice. Each section of the exhibit has a notecard explaining the feature and the research behind it. I really enjoyed this project. It was my first true experience with building in SL and where I found my passion for building. It is an intricate process, very tedious and detail oriented, but the outcome from putting shapes together is aesthetically pleasing. The other aspect of the project that was a good experience was research. I learned about ADA guidelines, inclusion, social participation, and set up of a playground. One of the best parts of building this playground was how it related to the classes in school I was enrolled in. Concurrently, in those classes we were building our own playground and learning about universal design, therefore, it was great to have the research background already from working on it in SL. We held open houses for the playground when it was finished. This was interesting because we met many people from different disciplines and backgrounds.

Questions people visiting the playground asked challenged our thinking and made us delve further into changes we could consider in the future. Another new intriguing event that resulted from the playground project was creating the promotion video. I had never produced a video before, but gained knowledge in this area as I put the scenes together with a script. It was also a good experience in collaboration, the other graduate students helped put together the script and pick which scenes we should use. It was finalized and edited by Zsu and the product turned out better than I ever expected.

We also worked on the Healthy Aging Exhibit. Similar to the playground, we constructed prizes for completing each feature. We also brainstormed and collaborated ideas to enhance the exhibits before opening. This project was different because we helped in the research study Zsu was running; our role was to help and answer questions of participants while they completed the study. This was again interesting because the participants all interpreted the features in their own way. The greatest part was the promotion of OT throughout this project and the playground. It is the most essential aspect of what we do in SL. It is important for people to be aware of OT and the positive benefits it provides to all people. Presenting to others in SL was a first hand way I participated in OT promotion. For me, this was an amazing experience. Presenting in person I get jitters, butterflies, and extremely nervous, but through SL this did not occur for me. Another positive aspect of using SL as a medium for presentation is that your message can reach people you would not have been able to in RL. At the presentation, we had individuals attend from all over the world, it was incredible.

Other projects to stay tuned to hear about in the future are the creation of our new student orientation manual and a mental health exhibit. Overall, this has been a wonderful graduate assistantship, I have learned multitudes, met great people who have expanded my knowledge and thinking, and translated things I have seen and done in SL into my RL. I will continue to promote not only OT but using students in virtual worlds for education. SL has a place for everyone and there is great information available.

Main Grad Student Page

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