Transpositions in Configurable Virtual Storyworlds

Transpositions in Configurable Virtual Storyworlds

James J. Sosnoski (University of Illinois at Chicago, USA), Kevin Q. Harvey (University of Illinois at Chicago, USA), Jordan Stalker (University of Illinois at Chicago, USA) and Colleen Monahan (University of Illinois at Chicago, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-878-9.ch005
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BACKGROUND: The Center for the Advancement of Distance Education (CADE) is a self-supporting unit within the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The center’s services range from online continuing education and professional training to multimedia Web-casting and research data management, analysis and presentation. TECHNOLOGY USED: In public health emergency response training, an isolation and quarantine situation is one of the most challenging. Second Life has the capability and potential to address many of the training and planning challenges associated with such a sensitive topic. It enables public health emergency responders to test and refine existing plans and procedures in a safe, controllable, immersive and repeatable environment. CASE STUDY: A quarantine scenario designed for emergency training. The authors designed “The Canyon Crossroads” as a key transit point between two quarantine areas and two uninfected areas. They placed a state border to divide the crossroads leaving quarantine zones in each jurisdiction. The local hospital was located in one of the quarantine zones and it is an official holding and treatment location for infected victims. The exercise involves transmitting persons in and out of the four areas. CHALLENGES: There are three challenges the authors are currently addressing: (a) how to increase the levels of engagement in the training process, (b) how to construct a virtual world that fosters collaboration, and (c) how to measure the levels of engagement in this collaborative environment.
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The Center for the Advancement of Distance Education

The Center for the Advancement of Distance Education (CADE) is a self-supporting unit within the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago. CADE partners or contracts with university, government, non-profit and for-profit organizations to provide innovative technological solutions to meet a variety of educational, training, research and administrative needs. These collaborations include the creation of interactive online training modules, the design and development of web sites, simulations, games and virtual worlds, mobile phone applications, multimedia production and webcasting, course registration and learning management system construction, web-based programming and database connectivity, and online data gathering and analysis. By expanding into new and emerging technological fields, CADE has managed to sustain continued growth in personnel, annual revenue, client base, and number of simultaneous projects.

Management Structure

Dr. Colleen Monahan, CADE’s Director and Founder, has 20 years experience successfully managing a self-supporting unit. From 1986 to 1997, she founded and ran a self-funded Research and Development (R&D) unit within the UIC Division of Specialized Care for Children (DSCC). This unit focused on the development of proposals/projects that focused on children with special needs and their families.

Eventually the topics of interest broadened to include more public health populations and, in1997she transferred the unit and staff to the School of Public Health. CADE has a successful 10-year track record with revenues of over 22 million to date.

CADE employs more than 25 personnel - all full-time staff have college degrees; all higher-level staff have advanced degrees. Given the technical nature of CADE’s activities, most of the staff have been recruited from their respective specialist fields: the Multimedia and Webcasting staff come from professional audio-video industries; the Web Design and Development group come from the graphic design, instructional design, programming, usability and project management professions; the Research Data Management staff have epidemiology, statistics, and programming backgrounds; the Network and Server Administration team have computer engineering, information technology and management and information systems expertise.

CADE mobilizes and integrates expertise across its production groups: Web Design and Project Management; Multimedia and Webcasting; Research Data Management; Data Systems Programming and Public Health Preparedness. This integration capacity permits the Center to deliver services that incorporate features drawing from a wide variety of specialized activities, which address the client’s specific and specialized needs. CADE’s projects blend programming, webcasting, web design, instructional design, data analysis, and learning/knowledge management system creation and development in ways few other organizations can.

Figure 1.

CADE organizational chart


Type of business

Products and Services

CADE services include:

  • Support for online educational programs (e.g., skill building for faculty and staff, course development and remote communication strategies);

  • Development of training/information/entertaining CD-ROMs and DVDs;

  • Development of serious games and simulations, including virtual worlds;

  • Development of facilitated virtual tabletop exercises using virtual worlds;

  • Studio and Location Recording (e.g. HD video, Digital DVCAM or MiniDV in single or multi-camera productions, DAT and hard disk audio recording);

  • Support for internet-based meetings (broadcasting/webcasting);

  • Development of Internet-based applications to support business and educational systems. (e.g., online Course Evaluation Questionnaires, registration systems, online inventories, etc.);

  • Assistance in writing grant proposals to include use of innovative online technologies;

  • Development of informational web sites; and

  • Research data management support for research projects.

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