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Rejuvenation Island

Rejuvenation Island central Australian rock formation

We developed this island in the virtual world Second Life as a teaching resource for Dr. Helen Farley and Dr. Janice Jones at the University of Southern Queensland. The aim of the project was to test the viability of virtual worlds as a teaching resource for teachers who are otherwise unable to access the kind of environment that the virtual world replicates.

Rejuvenation Island glow worm cave with kangaroo spirit animal
Rejuvenation Island plain with jumping kangaroo and gum trees
Rejuvenation Island tropical beach with swimming turtles

Some outcomes of this project were published in this paper - Farley, Helen and Jones, Janice K. and Murphy, Angela (2012) Rejuvenation Island: enriching the learning journey through immersion in virtual restorative environments In: ASCILITE 2012: 29th Annual Conference of the Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education: Future Challenges, Sustainable Futures, 25-28 Nov 2012, Wellington, New Zealand.

The process of developing such a simulation begins with extensive consultation with the academics in order to ascertain the teaching outcomes they wish to achieve or test. This is followed by establishing the specifications for appropriate physical parameters for the simulation. Next, individual activities are designed to achieve or test each learning outcome. Once the environment has been developed we must teach the academics how to use all the features of the simulation and then support them while they in turn instruct the participants in its use. We also fully maintain the island to ensure it runs at peak efficiency.

The video to the left is one of a series of machinima we made to document the island. More videos can be found at the bottom of this page.

The image at left shows a participant undertaking the first stage of an activity designed to facilitate independent exploration of the simulated environment. In this activity the participant enters a glow worm cave and encounters a spirit animal. The spirit animal then tells its own particular story, which is based on an Aboriginal story for that animal. Finally the spirit animals encourages the participant to explore the island in order to seek out the appropriate environment in which they could find the real counterpart of their particular spirit animal. When they find the correct animal they are given a reward.

In this instance the spirit animal is the kangaroo. In total there were four spirit animals; kangaroo, catfish, turtle and emu.

This is the kangaroo's story.

One aboriginal story relates how the first kangaroos were blown to the Australian mainland by a violent windstorm. The creatures became exhausted on that journey, for they could not land, even though their hind legs had grown longer and longer in their attempts to gain a foothold. A party of aborigines were out hunting when this extraordinary storm of wind swept across their country, uprooting the trees, tearing the grass and shrubs from the earth, and driving the aborigines into the shelter of the rocks. As the hunters looked upward at the clouds of swirling debris they saw the kangaroos being carried along by the storm. Never before had the aborigines seen such strange animals, with their small heads and small arms, large bodies and tails, and long legs with which they were always trying to touch the ground, only to be swept into the air by the next blast of wind. But during a short lull in the storm the hunters saw a kangaroo become entangled in the branches of a tree, fall to the ground, and hop away. Knowing that so large a creature would provide food for many people, the whole tribe moved to the locality where the hunters had seen the kangaroo, for it was good country with streams of running water, much fruit on the trees, and grass on the ground. But it was a long time before the aborigines learnt how to capture the kangaroos, the largest and swiftest of all the Australian mammals.

This was the most complex activity on the island. To create this activity we had to craft suitable environments for each animal, build 3D models of the animals, animate the models, create a behaviour module for each animal, and create the spirit animal interaction module. We know of no other activity of comparable complexity that has been developed in Second Life.

In addition to the spirit animal activity the island had a treasure hunt. This activity served the purpose of teaching participants how to use the client software used to access the virtual world. Various features of the client would need to be mastered in order to find all the items in the treasure hunt. Each item contained instructions for using a particular feature which would be required to be mastered in order to find another item.

The art wall was an activity that taught participants how to use the snapshot feature of the client in order for them to create a record of their time in the island.

The island also featured a ball game which was designed to teach the participants fine control of their avatars. The game required participants to push a ball through a set of hoops rising out of the ground. The game included a ball vendor and a score board which kept a record of times and challenged participants to beat the best time.