Bodi’s (Alyssa’s) Page

Second Life Newbie

“It’s like SIMs,” a friend told me when I asked what Second Life was upon learning that I had been placed in a Graduate Assistantship in this far off land. To be completely honest, I wasn’t really sure what SIMs was so the comparison was not helpful. I’m not the most computer savvy person, so I was quite curious as to how I would be of service on this project. Needless to say, I accepted the challenge and have embarked on what has been a rewarding adventure thus far.
It took awhile for me to wrap my head around what our project was but once I did, it didn’t seem too different than what OTs do in real life in terms of promoting health and participation in life through engagement in occupation. What’s different is that Second Life is reaching people through a virtual medium rather than in a hospital, school or community clinic. The OT Center at Jefferson in Second Life is not treating avatars but introducing them to the many benefits and varied services that OT can provide to the person in real life. People can learn backpack safety techniques; understand what is causing that pain in their wrist as they type with their hands in a less than optimal position. They can go on a journey through the Garden of Healthy Aging where they will be introduced to the myriad of issues facing older adults and some ideas that can be put in to practice to either prevent illness or injury or promote their current healthy lifestyle.
Our team’s first project in Second life was to build an Adapted Playground next to the Adapted Home that the GA students from the year before had built.

Accessible playground

This was exciting because this was primarily a student-driven project. Zsu was always available for feedback and support but for the most part the ideas for the playground and most of the structures were created by our student team. It was helpful that two of the students had been working in Second Life for the past year and were able to teach us how to build. Not to mention that they had already taken an Environments class where one of the assignments was to design a playground using principles of Universal Design in order to make it accessible for all people.
Once the Adapted Playground was completed we focused our attention on assisting Zsu with her study in the Garden of Healthy Aging.

Expanded Garden of Healthy Aging located at Fatima's Cherished

We worked together to brainstorm and build prizes for each exhibit. Brainstorming for the prizes was a fun process because we had to make sure the objects we were giving away accurately represented the message from the specific exhibit. Once we finished building the prizes we were able to assist study participants while they were exploring the Garden of Healthy Aging by answering questions and providing directions.
I have to say that my favorite part about the projects we have worked on in Second Life is when we have Open Houses to display our work.

Presentation on Accessible Playgrounds

It is both gratifying and fun to be able to talk about our projects and answer questions about our process as well as receive feedback from different members of the Second Life community. I have also had the opportunity to present at Faculty Development Day at Thomas Jefferson University as well as participate in a few virtual presentations in Second Life. Presenting the student perspective on our projects and Second life in general has been a great opportunity. I’ve been gaining valuable public speaking and presentation skills while I am reinforcing the new knowledge gained through these projects.
This coming semester is going to be a big one for our team. We will have a few new students depending on us to acclimate them to this new world of Second Life. We are going to be working on expanding the original OT Center at Jefferson in Second Life by adding a new Mental Health exhibit. Stay tuned for updates about our new experiences!

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