Thursday, May 1, 2014

Richness Afforded by Avatar Use

Do we really have a common definition of avatars? Many people think of the movie Avatar that featured a man inhabiting the form of another species where he was required to take on characteristics of that being while overcoming his own human limitations. This notion of avatars seems partially true.

Avatars to me represent an interplay with 'self' that is as diverse as the personalities of the people whom inhabit their avatars. Of course not all people inhabit thier avatar, if they have one at all. Much more research is needed on identity, but it is clear that the leaders who foster communities across distance and time zones often use avatars. These communities provide the glue that connects annual events like conferences.

Speaking of avatars, The Virtual Education Journal of the International Society of Technology in Education's Virtual Environments Network features some profiles of educators who are often tireless scouts of new media and technology. The issue is called My Avatar and Me. Check it out:



Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Applicability of Research

New chapter. My research journey included defending my dissertation on 12-19-13. The findings led me to add the term embodied to the title after it was so clear to me how survey respondents were attached to their avatars, groups, and the milieu of virtual environments. 

I took my time to consider avenues of future research and applicability. Since my last post, I moved back to the Orlando area and am researching how to start a non-profit corporation to apply and continue my research. Philanthropy appeals to me to give back for the blessings I have received. 

Last year was tumultuous with taking on a new job, moving to a new city, my daughter's car accident, and then getting caught up in a reduction of force all while trying to complete a doctorate program. Waiting until degree completion would have been optimal, but the challenges served my thinking and my study. The document turned out to be about 320 pages. Hopefully, I am pioneering some new realms of thought. 

There are many other capable researchers exploring personality and identity using avatars. Several researchers are also studying collaboration. Gaming mechanics and the impact of a learning organization kept coming back to me so these elements were added to my calls for future research. In the end, I mashed up many ideas and constructs that will take years to apply in praxis. 

Last September, the OpenSim Community Conference was the first community-supported event that illustrated what committed volunteers can do with sufficient tools, time, and leadership. Things worked so well that it felt somewhat miraculous. I was merely a spectator admiring the hard work of others. The event made me think  of how transformations occur in people, groups, organizations, and society. How do we detect and see the currents of change?  
Open Simulator Community Conference 2013 venue
http://conference.opensimulator.org/
I have been thinking a lot about cross-generational learning and how strengths-based teaming allows those with motivation to learn and enjoy whatever they are committed to doing. The craze of massively open online courses has in my mind led to replacing the C in MOOC from course to community. It is the transformative capability of community collaboration and involvement that attracts my fascination. Such transformations enable people (and groups?) to believe in what they previously thought not possible. This is the business I want to be involved in to invest my strengths.   

Personalized learning suggests that those who have interest and ability should be able to advance and collaborate with others who share goals. Wouldn't in be revolutionary if online virtual conferences could be open to anyone with capability and commitment to engage? Such events could lead to virtual open online communities. A sort of sponsorship could make it work. Sponsorship is something I think a lot about too. 

Once virtual communities form, what makes them sustainable? My study suggested that how volunteer communities build learning communities towards transdisciplinarity impacted empowerment. The potential for virtual learning organization communities may preserve scant resources of time, energy, funding, and the environment. Much more research is required. I am looking forward to new opportunities to learn and grow now that I am finally, Dr. Truman. My gratitude cannot be more heartfelt for my mentors, peers, family, and friends.         
 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Towards Transdisciplinarity: A Research Quest

The quest is on to identify the most collaborative groups in virtual environments to collect data for my dissertation study. No doubt I will miss many. By December, the results will be compiled and ready to share. I am relishing the ability to be a full-time doctoral researcher after experiencing a reduction in force on my new job. Fortunately while I was in Texas I was able to meet with Dr. Larry Johnson, CEO of the New Media Consortium, and attend the national conference of the International Society of Technology in Education (ISTE) in San Antonio where I got to hear Dr. Jane McGonigal and meet friends from SIGVE and the Gamesmooc.

Here is a little video I made to introduce myself to those who do not know me. I will begin sharing more findings from research into collaboration using virtual environments as I progress. These environments will connect to physical environments, simulators, and big data. Pioneering virtual community learning environments is a passion of mine. I cannot wait to apply what I have learned in my newest doctoral program. It's been 12 years since being unable to finish the first doctoral program. Slides used for my dissertation defense are also linked below. Stay tuned for results and thank you for your interest.



Btruman prosp defense-slideshare from Barbara Truman

If you are a user of virtual environments and you collaborate using an avatar or character, please feel free to participate in my dissertation study. More information can be found on my web site that includes definitions and a link to the survey and informed consent. The survey will be closed on November 5, 2013. 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Embodiment of Researcher for Transdisciplinary Inquiry: Towards Transdisciplinarity

Let’s role play. Imagine that you are a scientist participating in a collaborative research project. Your whole life you dreamed of being a part of a high performing team whose contribution leads to a revolutionary discovery fundamentally changing what humans know.

Perhaps the discovery is health related. Perhaps the discovery connects humanity in new ways. How do you work? What does your daily work routine look like? How do you collaborate? What tools do you use? When and where do you best think? Do you have enough reflection opportunities? Do you experience intimacy of the mind as you feel assumptions shift?

How does technology help you do your job better? Are you using technology to the fullest to achieve your best? Do you know how advances in computing will improve and threaten your existing habits of mind? Chances are the people below could not imagine how computing would one day manage the types of translations they volunteered to make.    

Library volunteers translate messages during World War II
Washington, D.C. Volunteer translators in the Red Cross district library translating messages from many foreign languages: Dutch, Polish, German, French, Italian, into English so that they can be censored before going to relatives in this country The Red Cross handles messages between people in foreign countries through their Foreign Inquiry Service http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/fsa.8d21281/
When do insights occur? How well are they captured? How is scientific inquiry and influence affected at a distance when stakeholders are among different agencies?

Now imagine that you can participate in real-time scientific discovery as a citizen scientist by simply turning on your 3d home theater to a particular channel. Big data flows into your home, around your body and you are connected to biological, chemical interactions that are tested. Perhaps you can choose which experiments to observe. Imagine how this redefines Reality TV!     

My project for CTU’s Web Science and Technology class, led me to find out how some scientists are prepared to use advanced collaborative software.  How is research performed at a distance with others who have vastly different expertise? Is the assumption that since people have advanced degrees that they inherently can figure out how to use technology to collaborate?

This week I am attending the TeamSTEPPS National Conference in Dallas. http://teamstepps.ahrq.gov/nationalconference.htm It is a conference sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and is all about teaming using a health care model. While the conference is not about inquiry and research, it is about collaboration. For my job, I am assisting in the creation of an innovative program that focuses on Interprofessional Collaborative Practice involving nurses and other healthcare professionals. The topic is timely due to the government regulations on health care reform. A faculty member whom I am working with on this initiative was a former president in the Society for Simulation in Healthcare https://ssih.org that capitalizes on learning from mistakes and customizing evaluation. Simulation technology is becoming used more for inquiry such as in transdisciplinarity.

Check out my curated topic via the web 2.0 software tool Scoopit:

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Nontraditional Student Dreams

Barbara Truman giving her children trophies for their support
1994 Kids get trophies at graduation for supporting their (single) mom 
My family must be thankful. After years of taking classes, the end of my doctoral program is in sight. The previous doctoral program took seven years of investment before life got in the way and I could not finish it at all. What a devastating heartbreak to have made so many sacrifices not to be able to enjoy the success of a lifelong dream. Now it's my turn. It's my time. I want to do a great job with my research.

I salute all the adult learners who are trying to better themself while working full time, taking care of kids or parents, and trying to keep their grades up. What a difference an education makes. Nontraditional students are not the only ones who make sacrifices when their parent, spouse, or sibling works all the time for a good cause.

This quarter for my Web Science and Technology class at CTU, we are creating projects that have applicability into our research studies. For mine, I wanted to think deeply about what transdisciplinarity might look like. There are some 2D illustrations that try to express what the concept is and how interactions occur, but how do you know when transdisciplinarity is present? Can one person "embody" transdisciplinarity or must a group of people working together summon it?

The Weavers, a painting by Jeanie Tomanek
"The Weavers" by Jeanie Tomanek
How can transdisciplinarity be modelled in 3d such as in open simulation? How does even thinking about modeling it affect how I will approach studying it for my dissertation study? Collaboration takes many forms. Face to face engagement is one of many instantiations of collaboration. When scouring the Internet looking for suitable representable images, "The Weavers" came up created by the artist, Jeanie Tomanek. She has a store on Etsy where you can buy her art work. To me, the piece shows interaction between the individuals enabling creation of a whole new vision.

So, in order to make a 3d model of transdisciplinarity, I wanted to illustrate real-life examples that may be close to achieving what is possible. A couple of months ago I was walking through the airport while on a trip. At the bookstore I saw the Time Magazine article describing the group Stand Up to Cancer. The article described how dream teams made up of diverse scientists are being funded at much higher rates than organizations such as the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Clearly, cancer is a wicked problem that involves complexity. The basis for my dissertation study is informed by how the NCI and NIH are trying to evaluate collaborative grants that have been funded. What new research methods were achieved that were not possible without extreme collaboration? Right now I am selecting questions used in prior assessments to use in my study. These resources are made available via the National Cancer Institute's Behavior Research Center and Team Science Toolkit.  

IRB approval was required for my project and obtained. So far I am waiting to hear from representatives to see if they will shed light for me on how teams are supported with training and tools.

If I cannot obtain referrals from members of the organizations contacted, then I will need to switch over to another area to use as an example for how scientists are collaborating across and perhaps beyond disciplines.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Heroism and Tribute

Nothing like a major job change and move across country to infuse your doctoral studies. In late January my adult hero children helped me drive to Dallas where I accepted the appointment as Vice President for Learning Technologies within the company, Academic Partnerships. A thrilling opportunity for which I was deeply honored.

Family is priceless. One of the reasons why I moved from mine is to amplify my life's work and research to support more families.

On night of day 2 on the new job, I got the call every parent dreads. Terrible auto accident. Car totalled. Ambulance enroute to ER.

Thankfully, angels of mercy were following my daughter that allowed her to drop off my grandson five minutes before she was struck. Good samaritans carried her off the pavement within the path of oncoming cars after she crawled from the remains of her crushed car. The Fire Station was less than a mile away. Cell phone found. Family contacted. Brother and father beat the ambulance to the hospital. Sister enabled me to speak via cellular in the ER. Diagnosis, surgery, recovery and healing in process. Hero family! The good samaritan turned out to be a nursing student that knew better what to do. She followed the ambulance to the hospital.

My colleagues and classmates sustained me again as I struggled to work and learn apart from my family. Fortunately we all have the ability to choose how we encode memory from experience. Recalling heroism inspires and motivates me to make the most of each second.

Prior to moving, my former staff and lifelong colleagues at UCF made me an incredible tribute. The video is called Online Learning: A Life's Work and runs about 10 minutes. It illustrates how someone in the right place at the right time with the right support can ignite collaboration and team work that can create transformational positive change. Now I am in a position to help change the world. My Wordpress work page describes more about my professional activities if I get time to describe them!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

More Cross Cultural (Dancing) NASA Science Style

In case it has not been obvious enough, I have been making the case that dancing is a universal language art form (see previous posts that feature US Marines, Stormtroopers and crazy French guys). Don't get all serious on me just because I am taking the Coursera "Think Again, How to Reason and Argue" class offered by Duke University. Thanks Dr. Cooper for insisting I sign up to check out the format.

Actually it does not take much for me to post a fun dance video. This one is irresistible as it has my hero, Mike Massimino in it who made the first tweet from space. Someday I would like to shake the hand that jerked that door off the Hubble Telescope during his spacewalk I watched live.

Enjoy this delightful mash up of talented young artists with veteran space men and women.