Monday, December 7, 2009

Catching Up

The presentation went well--I think we had about 25 people or so.

Sarah has visited with two agents about the Second Life project and plans to talk with two more. The agents were very interested in the project and the technology. They did state that live demonstrations in their counties can be a problem. The idea of creating lessons plans that have video type pieces would be most appropriate.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

eXtension Presentation Today!

The team just met this morning to ensure our presentation was ready for this afternoon's presentation. We had a few technical problems that we were able to work out. We are hopeful that the connection speed will allow us to show Second Life "live" without too much lag time. We'll see...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Meeting with Kansas Agents

Today I met with six Kansas county agents via Adobe Connect. We toured the Second Life house (in Second Life!--the technology worked for everyone!) and discussed if/how agents saw it being useful in their counties. The overwhelming response was yes! One agent thought that agents would learn how to use SL and could tour the house as the presentation, similarly to what I did today with agents. Others thought that it would be good to have a dvd or cd that they could use in the field. Interestingly (to me, anyway) they thought it would be better to have a generic presentation, rather than scenarios--at least to start with...additional modules with specifics for TBI or AD could be added later...

One agent talked about how it would be great to have a 3-panel poster display, or even larger "visuals" of the house so that the experience would seem more immersive in the field...even if that meant items were harder to transport.

There was talk also, of using it to help people how their homes might be remodeled...I'll have to think about that.

Lastly, for me, it was a relief to hear that agents thought it was a GOOD thing that the AT devices were the same as what is in the kit. I thought that they might be bored with that, but they thought the repetition would be good for those that have heard the message before---and they thought that possibility would be slim in any case. So, less work for me, there...

All in all, a great meeting, and I am so grateful that folks were interested and willing to provide their opinion. I have a meeting with Sarah tomorrow and we'll see what's happening on her side.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Additional Development Notes

Here's an update on our meeting, and some additional notes from another.

1. We have a date to present to the Cooperative Extension system through eXtension on The LiveAbility House on November 19. Presenters include Deb and larry H and Sarah and LuAnn.

2. SLuAnn is working on the kiosks and drop box. We discussed needs for accessibility for the mailbox. Since then, Sarah has shared those and LuAnn and i are to meet to get this in place.

3. We are palnning no "open house" or any type of grnad opening for the house. instead, luAnn will post a sign that says group tours are avaialble and who to contact for same.

4. LuAnn did not think AgrAbility had any presence in SL--that it might be another platform.

5. We discussed the plans for the book chapter at length. LuAnn has requirements due to a personal project that she has; she will outline and work on the chapter as an eXtension project, rather than the LiveAbility House, although TLH will be mentioned in the chapter as the first eXtension project.

Notes from a meeting between Deb and Sarah
Sarah and I met October 1 and discussed next steps for the LiveAbility House--how can we best use it and get it in the hands of agents? Each of us agreed to chat with 4-5 agents in our states and ask them for ideas and feedback. meanwhile, we discussed moving forward with the online course--which would serve dual purposes, as we also envision it as an on-the-ground program for agents.

Our vision is to create a pilot, using specific scenarios. We will have facilitator questions and short machinimas, as long as factual information. Sarah and I are to both sketch out our ideas and we will get back together and compare notes. We plan on using traumatic brain injury as our first scenario, as this is in line with another one of Deb's projects and we may have some money to support the work.

We also talked about presentations and journal articles. Sarah is thinking that a presentation to Housing educators next year in Fall, in Oregon, would be well-received. She also brought up the idea of a journal article for Housing and Society. As we should have our data collection 'mailbox" up in SL soon, we should have some data to report on in the next year--as well as sharing project development information. Sarah will share information about the journal and we will begin thinking how to approach this.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Upcoming Meeting

Yes, all has been quiet here for a while...we have a team meeting coming up on Friday with a long list of agenda items:

1. Pick date in November for eXtension presentation; discuss; how have other presentations gone?
2. Status of evaluation--drop box--survey--etc
3. Plans for Housewarming in November
4. AgrAbility
5. Plans for book chapter
6. Status of next step plans--Deb and Sarah
7. Other?

You might see "book chapter" in the agenda. I was approached about submitting a proposal for a book chapter regarding the LiveAbility House. The timeline is so short; I am just not sure if we can do it. However, the team has said they wanted to give it a try--we'll talk more about it on Friday and see what we think.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Interesting Article

Pathfinder Linden shared this article via one of our listservs--and I wanted to share it with you:

How The Internet Is Changing Health Care:
From Twitter to Second Life to Facebook, patients now have access to more
health information than ever before.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

IRB Application Completed

The IRB application is complete and submitted.

Sarah and I continue to work on the Learning Lesson on the eXtension family caregiving site, and we are hosting a webinar for members of the family caregiving steering committee on Thursday, August 13 at 10am CT. We are also recruiting for other subject matter experts for help. We are planning on attending the Moodle course tomorrow to educate ourselves about our options for the online course.

Once we get past these tasks, it might be time for the group to get back together.

Here are some more pictures of the house!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Interesting news article

I found this to be an extremely interesting and exciting news article, and thought that it was worth sharing:

Eye-Tracking Software Opens Online Worlds to People With Disabilities

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Putting Future Plans Together

Sarah and I met today in Second Life and discussed the project. Here's what we decided:

1. We need to let eXtension family caregiving CoP and COI members know about what we are doing. We will host a SL presentation just for eXtension family caregiving on August 13, 10am CT. Sarah will make the arrangements through NCSU. We'll have a practice session on Tuesday, August 4 at 1pm CT. We will invite Beth Raney to attend. If things go well, and if Beth is interested, we could then provide a session for the entire eXtension system.

2. We are happy with the current home in SL, but there are things that we would both change and/or improve. We are also feeling the need to bring in some additional subject matter experts. We may arouse interest through the presentation on August 13.

Therefore, Sarah and I will both actively recruit 1-2 people to join us as SMEs.

We will also meet bi-monthly from now on. One of the things that we will do in these meetings is to evaluate each room/area in the house, hopefully with our new people on board. We will keep a list of the changes that we need to make and work on these. This final assessment needs to be completed BEFORE we move forward with the online course development. In this way, we have built a comprehensive learning lesson within the SL environment that can stand on its own.

3. We discussed the need for evaluation and reviewed what has been drafted to this point. We agreed that we need the more comprehensive survey. However, we also appreciate having the shorter "feedback" option as suggested by our other team members. We will pursue both at this time. We envision that the survey will have no more than 10 questions and will attempt to collect demographic information. Deb will use K-State's Axio survey to design it. We envision that the notecard provided in SL will simply ask: As a result of touring this house, what changes do you plan to make in your home or in the home of the person you care for? Participants can then leave the notecard in the mailbox. Deb will begin the IRB application at K-State.

4. We also discussed the need to provide eXtension with some type of finished product. While we are working on the assessment and evaluation components, we will design a Learning Lesson page within eXtension family caregiving. We will detail what SL is, what the LiveAbility House is, provide links to the blog and videos to learn more, and direct people to the SL website to sign up for an account and also provide the SLURL for The LiveAbility House for people who are already residents of SL.

5. We would like to have November as our end date for all that we have mentioned above. November is Family Caregiving Month, and while neither of us feel that a contest (as we have always talked about) is an option, we would like to think about an Open House or other type of marketing event to "launch" The LiveAbility House Project officially in SL.

Sarah and I will meet again in mid-July to check on progress of these items.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

LiveAbility House Tour Video

Dmitre created and posted a video of The LiveAbility House Tour on YouTube. You may view it here.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Presentation Summary

We hosted our two tours today in The LiveAbility House! Each tour was limited to 15 participants; we actually had about seven in each, including a few folks from the U.K. And, did we mention that one of our volunteer builders, DFox, is from Brazil?

In the presentation area, the participants received a welcome and overview of Cooperative Extension and eXtension family caregiving.

We then had participants walk over to the house entrance, where they heard about the initial vision for the project.

We then encouraged participants to tour the house on their own, and we were available to respond to questions. We have already received requests to present at other conferences, and there was much discussion about possible collaborations, especially for the issue of service dogs for people with disabilities.

The team was overall quite pleased with our efforts, especially since we are just ready for "prime time" and this could be considered our soft launch of the project.

Here is the conference description, taken from an email announcement from the SL HealthCare Digest, Volume 328, Issue 1, author Ricken Flow:

"The Nonprofit Commons, a project of TechSoup Global (TSG), today announced an all-day, innovative online event in Second Life to showcase recent developments in health care research, and to connect efforts in fighting disease and creating a cooperative and supportive environment for patients and their providers. The Health Panel Expo, an international online conference sponsored by, will be held on Wednesday, May 27, 2009, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. PST (also called Second Life Time, SLT) in the virtual world of Second Life and simultaneously in the real world, being broadcast live at the fourth annual NetSquared Conference at Cisco in San Jose, CA. The Second Life online event is free to attend and open to all interested participants. It will be accessible through Second Life, and all information will be available at

The Health Panel Expo marks the official launch of the Health Commons in
Second Life. As part of TSG's Nonprofit Commons project, Health Commons
seeks to bring together real-world health-related nonprofits, academics,
educators, thought-leaders, foundations, and volunteer-supporters to
showcase recent developments in health care....

8, 8:30 am- tours of accessible demo homes

9 am- mental health panel
10 am- HIV/AIDS panel
11 am Faster Cures
11:15 am- mobile/phone health
12:15 pmHIPPA
1pm- activity/diet
2pm- disability
3pm- cancer
4pm- Ren Stonecutter"

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Each universal design feature or assistive technology device now has its own color-coded number (UD=orange; AT=purple). When you click on the number, you hear 2-3 sentences discussing the feature or item. A real-life photograph of the item in use, along with the name and a short description pop up in a window. There are educational signs with audio about UD, AT, and caregiving posted throughout the house. Jeb has gotten into the act, as his dog food bowls now act as a catalyst to learn more about service dogs. He even has a doghouse out back! There's a free "SageAdvice" T-shirt, and hopefully, we will have a book that lists the universal design features and assistive technology items to give away to visitors.

As a picture is worth a thousand words...












Monday, May 4, 2009

Moving along...

The team met the other day to discuss our progress for the May 27th presentation. The web pages for assistive technology have all been completed, and the ones for the universal design features are underway. Our SL guru has been busy with other projects, but beginning this week will turn her attention to the prototype house and begin to build the few more items that we need.

Our next meeting is May 14th, and we should have all of the final details completed and we'll talk at that time about the actual structure of the presentation.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Correction to the Plans

There is a correction and a few details that were missed in the previous entry.

In terms of the contest entries: reserving 20% of sim resources for infrastructure, we actually can accept up to 24 contest entries (not 9). This allows for a 2048 square meter parcel and 500 prims for each entry. Three winners will be chosen.

For the final build there would be 9 houses (3 of each winning design) with a 1300 prim limit for each house including the to be added AT features.

We discussed at length and agreed to add some non-educational details to the decor of the house, i.e. pictures, kitchen items, plants, flooring. This will be taken care of by the 5-27 tour or sooner.

Additional notes:

The plan for sim space is to add Morrill 3 and 4 to the south of Morrill and Morril2.

Morrill 4, south of Morrill will be allocated for the Family Caregiving contest/project. We will create the primary entrance to Morrilll 4 and the Live-ability project/contest west of the fair "main gate". The current Live-ability house would be relocated to the parcel on Morrill which is now the barrel racing, and become a "welcome" area. The accessible garden will be used as a public park on Morrill4.

We will reserve a 30x30m space in the northwest corner of Morrill 4 to combine with like parcels adjacent on the other 3 sims, and this will become eXtension's new "4 corners" large meeting space for high attendance events. The horse area will be relocated to the current Live-ability house parcel.

Morrill 3 will be available for future pilot projects or for another large CoP project.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Deciding on Some Plans

Today, several team members came together to discuss our current status and progress. The team decided that the first priority is to make the Live-Ability house more interactive and informative. There are two things that need to be done. First, the universal design features and assistive technology items need to be color-coded so that people know what category they fall into. Second, each feature and item need to be made "clickable"--so that when someone clicks on the item, it takes that person to a web page that shows a picture of the item and has some basic information about the item. These items will be completed by the presentation on May 27.

The team also discussed the contest, and decided that it is not possible to have it ready to go by May 27. Instead, we have established a timeline. A rough draft of the "Contest Call" will be completed by June 5. We will finish up the draft, and begin marketing in September, the contest will be in October, and the judging in November--which is National Caregivers' Month.

The team discussed whether the contest should target hobbyists or professional builders, and probably we will be able to attract hobbyists. The houses will only need the UD features, not the AT. We will only be able to accept the first 9 entries. Each house will be "empty" except for the UD, so each building will need about 300 prims.

We also discussed the May 27 presentation/tour. The plan right now is to have everyone teleport to the front lawn. We'll have a welcome address and speak generally about eXtension, as well as give an overview of SL building and how it is different from RL. Then we will give the tour and talk about the different items and the vision of the project.

Friday, March 20, 2009

A New Opportunity

Our team was contacted by Gentle Huron of Virtual Ability Island. On May 27, the NonProfit Commons in Second Life will hold an all day conference on health care and disabilities. They have asked us participate by hosting a tour of the Live-Ability Home, and leading some discussion about the project and our aims. This is an exciting opportunity for us, even though we consider the house to be a prototype and not quite ready for "prime time". The team has agreed to participate, and we will meet next week to discuss what we need to do to prepare.

We would like to think that potentially, we could have the contest competition kick-off at this same time, as May is Older Americans Month. We were shooting at this as a deadline, but it didn't seem possible to make this happen. But now...? Perhaps!

Gentle Huron has also offered to give Sarah and I an individualized tour of Virtual Ability Island, and we will do that next week.

On another note, Carolina and I have talked about the caregiving issue in SL, and we will look for ways to become involved with the this group. Carolina is till interested in potentially hosting a seminar or conference of some kind on caregiving, and that would be an area where eXtension certainly has something to bring to the table.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Take Heart: Support for Caregivers

I attended an important and exciting meeting in SL today. It was an informal gathering of caregivers who came together under the guidance of Carolina Keats (avatar name)on Health Info Island. By the end of the meeting, we had decided to formalize the group, and even came up with a name and mission. The group is Take Heart: Support for Caregivers, and the mission is to provide an environment where caregivers can help one another with resources and support. It is a group for caregivers, by caregivers.

I contacted Carolina in RL and we will be meeting soon to discuss possibilities for colloboration. I am truly enthused by the dimension and opportunities this might bring to the Live-Ability House project.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Competition

Sarah and I met this past week and discussed our journey so far...and the competition. She has developed a list of "basic" universal design principles that should be included in the homes. Now, it is up to me to take the draft of the the competition RFP and finalize it. We would like to think we could move this along by may, for Older Americans' Month...but we will see.

General Requirements

Step free entrance with flush threshold
Open floor plan
One level home or at least one accessible bedroom and full bath on first floor
36” wide door openings
Flooring -- flush thresholds, maneuverable surfaces, and non-slip/non-glare surfaces
Adjustable height storage
Lever handle hardware
Loop handle cabinet and drawer hardware
Light switches 44” - 48” high
Thermostat no more than 48” high
Windows maximum 36” sill height
Electrical outlets 18” minimum height
Adequate maneuvering space in bathroom (60” in diameter)
Curbless shower or tub with integral seat
Clear space in front of and to the side of toilet
Single lever faucet controls
Lavatory height (adjustable or at 32”)
Knee space under lavatory
Scald guard
Adjustable hand-held shower hose
Knee space under cabinets
Accessible appliances (refrigerator, stove, dishwasher)
Adjustable height countertops
Adjustable height storage
Single lever facet controls
Utility Room
Accessible washing machine, clothes dryer (front loading with controls on front)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Other Details Need Attention Too

We haven't done much work IN SL recently, but have been quite busy on other fronts related to the project, and others are demonstrating a high level of interest in what the group is attempting to accomplish with it. There have been numerous requests for presentations to university faculty about SL recently, but folks are also specifically interested in the project. These presentations provide a forum to enthuse and excite others about the educational possibilities of virtual worlds.

Additionally this week, a pre-application was submitted to the National Institutes of Health which includes this project as part of the overall aim. Notification should come in April if the project is selected as one for which the reviewers would like to see a full proposal.

Two of us are meeting next Tuesday to reevaluate where we are with the project and to begin discussions about the competition.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Links of Interest

For a list of interesting projects in SL, please visit:

For a list of articles about SL, please visit: