I received an email from a reader who is working on a worthy project and is looking for advice on Second Life. Since I generally avoid SL myself, I was hoping some of you might have some tips for her.
My goal is to create a simulation that can be used by a non-profit consulting firm, where I intern, to allow employees and field representatives engage in a fun and useful tool to educate themselves about the intricacies of implementing a project. Many of our employees are at field sites around the world, and we wanted to use a platform that would not require us to all sit in a room and do a tabletop simulation; instead, using the virtual world of Second Life seemed like a perfect place where individuals could learn and interact.
We work on international health projects, primarily sponsored by USAID, and have allocated overhead money to cover the cost of purchasing an island where the simluation can take place. As many activities have input from a variety of stakeholders, our aim was to use Second Life as a place where individuals could adopt the role of the Minister of Health, a donor, a community health worker, etc. and experience what it was like to participate in the negotiations that take place in determining priorities, indicators, targets, and other necessary tenants of our projects.
I know that explanation is laden with international health jargon, but here are a few of the questions affiliated with it…
- Is it best to set up seperate SL accounts attached to avatars that we can give to the individuals participating in a given round of the simulation, or allow people to create their own avatars and attend the simulation, just taking on the role in the way they behave?
- Beyond purchasing the island and the “rent”, what other costs can we expect to incur if we don’t need any particularly fancy infrastructure? We work in developing countries, so a bare-bones facility will suffice just fine.
- What is a realistic time frame to conduct an online learning module like this?
- Any other advice/caveats/words of wisdom?