What?s the best way to share research findings internationally in the digital age? Present them to a huge audience of virtual people in a digitally created world that only exists on the Internet.
That was how the team from the Institute of Digital Learning at the University of Wales, Newport presented details of their latest innovative research and development when they were invited to address a global forum in the online virtual world of Second Life, where people can interact, play and do business.
?The digital world of Second Life hosts cutting-edge virtual classrooms for the real world?s major universities such as Harvard and the Open University,? said Matt Chilcott, Development Manager at the Institute of Digital Learning.
?It?s a vibrant place bursting with new ideas and creativity, and its rules of unity, respect and inclusion make it a fitting venue for us to share our equality and diversity etraining research and development experiences
?As it replicates real world face-to-face meetings it was a fitting venue for us to explain how we developed our innovative new range of online learning materials which include free interactive games that help people explore topics such as disability, age diversity, racial equality and homelessness,? added Matt who addressed the virtual audience as his digital Second Life character Casnewydd Maximus.
Matt and his team were invited to discuss their digital learning toolkits on Second Life by America?s leading ICT support agency for the Not for Profit sector, TechSoup.org, following meetings at the International Serious Games festival held in New York in June
?Each week TechSoup.org invite key technologists and policy makers from around the real world to their forum held in a digitally created amphitheatre in Second Life to explore best practice and innovation that is advantageous to the world?s Not for Profit and charity sector,? said Matt.
?We were delighted to be able to address this global virtual audience in the wake of rapid worldwide demand for our innovative open source ?Addressing Barriers ? Enhancing Services? diversity etraining resources which incorporate expert video tutorials alongside interactive ‘Bytesize Basics’ serious games.?
Newport?s pioneering approach to developing the UK?s first interactive etraining package to raise awareness about homelessness as part of equality and diversity online training was of particular interest to the audience members from America and Europe who expressed a desire to work with Newport?s University to raise awareness about socially and economically excluded groups within their own countries.
?The world?s press has picked up on the fact that Second Life has now created its first wave of real world millionaires but what is less well known is the fast growing number of entrepreneurial disabled people and members of other disadvantaged groups who are finding economic success in this virtual world – free of the barriers to employment they often experience in the real world. In keeping with the findings of the Institute of Digital Learning new media technologies can be used effectively utilized in addressing people?s barriers to learning and employment.?
Commenting on the success of the latest digital learning tools, Allan Fear, Associate Dean (Research and Enterprise) said, ?The University of Wales, Newport?s expertise in digital learning has been recognised on both a real world and virtual world international stage. The innovative approaches of the Institute of Digital Learning team help highlight how Newport can fully meet its mission as a Community University seeking to take learning to the heart of its communities, both regionally and internationally, in the digital age.?
The Addressing Barriers Enhancing Services series was developed through the Welsh Equal funded Equinex Developmental Partnership with RISE the Learning Network. For further information and to access the free diversity etraining resources visit the website hosted by the Institute of Digital Learning at the official site.