The LiveAbility House: A Collaborative Adventure in Discovery Learning

The LiveAbility House: A Collaborative Adventure in Discovery Learning

Sarah D. Kirby (North Carolina State University, USA) and Debra M. Sellers (Kansas State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-320-1.ch003
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This chapter follows efforts of an online community of practice whose mission is to make individual educational experiences for family caregivers widely available. The case study illustrates the collaborative learning and creative processes of the community of practice as it worked to construct and transform informal educational content into engaging, interactive, and immersive educational tools for its intended audience. As part of its efforts, the CoP created The LiveAbility House, a virtual demonstration home, constructed in Second Life®. This virtual home is designed to teach individuals about real life universal design principles and assistive technology devices that may increase their ability to remain living at home despite physical or cognitive challenges they may encounter due to aging, illness, or disability. In addition to the creation of a virtual learning experience, the chapter also addresses plans to then take that experience out of the virtual world and apply and demonstrate learning principles in a real world setting.
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Background: Laying The Foundation

In order to fully understand the developmental process that took place in developing TLH, we will discuss the context of our work. A holistic, historic, and long-range view of our mission is necessary, we believe, to understand TLH as a progression of innovative educational outreach that has existed for 100 years. The land-grant university and Cooperative Extension systems and the eXtension initiative and corresponding communities of practice provided the foundation for the project’s inception; the setting was crucial for its development.

The Land-Grant University and Cooperative Extension Systems

Land-grant universities were established by the Morrill Act (1862), which provided funds from the sale of public lands to establish colleges concentrating in agricultural and mechanical arts for the “liberal and practical education of the industrial classes on the several pursuits and professions in life.” In 1890 a second Morrill Act established sixteen land-grant universities to address the needs of the African-American population, again with a focus on agriculture and mechanical arts. These institutions are often referred to as historically-black colleges and universities.

The Cooperative Extension System (CES) was initially established through the Smith-Lever Act of 1914 and extends the educational mission of land-grant universities to include informal education, outreach, and engagement. CES utilizes the research of academicians at the land-grant university to develop, implement, and evaluate evidence-based educational programs to help citizens improve the quality of their lives.

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