Saturday, October 26, 2019

Keep on Dancing - with thanks to India

It's been four years since I made an update to this fun blog created as part of my doctoral program at Colorado Tech. Even though I was studying emerging media, the inadvertent theme of the blog became the universality, importance, value, and celebration of dance. How wonderful it is to trace back the previous posts. Spirits are lifted! Of course, dancing is very important within virtual world communities. Dancing virtually is communal like breaking bread together. You may not know people well nor understand their language, but when the music starts it is a few clicks away from feeling yourself take flight, sometimes in scripted harmony like the image below that shows virtual line dancing.

Open Simulator Community Conference 2018 Avatar Dance (I'm on the far right)
2015 was a significant year for me as I was studying the Internet of Things, Smart Cities, and learning about how accessibility is deeply personal. I made a presentation to the NonProfit Commons in Second Life called The Promise and Pitfalls of Realizing the Internet of Things. We had held the fabulous event called the Federal of Consortium of Virtual Worlds Workshop for which I wrote a paper called Advancing Interagency Collaboration Through Constructive Simulation: Results from the 2015 Federal Consortium of Virtual Worlds Workshop. Then the next year I was able to begin teaching an interdisciplinary graduate course for UCF's Modeling and Simulation Program. Activities at the Institute for Simulation & Training kept me busy researching emerging learning technologies.

Tragically, the Pulse Nightclub shooting occurred during the first offering of my graduate M&S class. Hearts sank. Grief settled in. Everyone was stunned and horrified that 49 innocent souls could be snuffed out so senselessly. They were in a dance club. One of the ways the Orlando community healed was to invite organizations to create videos with the theme Keep Dancing Orlando. These videos included the original call to action:

Soon after, many organizations followed suit to honor the fallen including the Orange County Sheriff's Department. The culmination involved making a heart shape with hands implying Love Wins!

The Orlando City soccer team also got into the act of rally the community while setting the bar for having fun at work too:

And at the University of Central Florida, staff from our College of Medicine led through producing the video below. These physicians know the value of dancing for health and wellness. Medical education is tough. The aspiring doctors-to-be bonded with their advisors, mentors, and teachers as a lasting tribute. Such leadership! Dancing is part of the healing arts.

Lots of things happened since 2016, but I continue to see articles and evidence about the value of dance. For some of us who have physical limitations that challenge our dancing ability, dancing as avatars in virtual worlds offer similar bonding and vicarious exercise. I have been interested in dancing mostly to care for my spirit to manage stress. As a faculty administrator, my own playfulness contributed to a culture of creativity and innovation among staff that helped us get through tough times as UCF grew so fast. I also have played video and computer games to help my brain recover from the effects of chemotherapy. Since my health has been challenged again, I am considering the impact of dancing on the immune system.
Valentine's Day 2019

The list of references below represents some journal articles that describe the value of dancing for health, especially for the brain. The use of fMRIs is creating greater insights for researchers. These studies are on my list to explore. Learning science, competency-based and transmedia learning, and information architectures are still my priorities to learn that will also involve 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT). Of course, I am still a virtual worlds champion. What an honor to receive the 2019 Thinkerer lifetime achievement award from the Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education group. My colleagues cannot know how much of a lifesaver they are including Dr. Selby Evans (Thinkerer), whom I want to be like when I grow up *smiles* (Selby is 89!).

Cross, E. S. (2018). Building a dance in the human brain: Insights from expert and novice dancers. In The Neurocognition of Dance (pp. 215-237). Routledge. Retrieved from:

Karpati, F. J., Giacosa, C., Foster, N. E., Penhune, V. B., & Hyde, K. L. (2015). Dance and the brain: a review. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1337(1), 140-146. Retrieved from:

Kirsch, L. P., Dawson, K., & Cross, E. S. (2015). Dance experience sculpts aesthetic perception and related brain circuits. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1337(1), 130. Retrieved from:

Rehfeld, K., Lüders, A., Hökelmann, A., Lessmann, V., Kaufmann, J., Brigadski, T., ... & Müller, N. G. (2018). Dance training is superior to repetitive physical exercise in inducing brain plasticity in the elderly. PloS one, 13(7), e0196636. Retrieved from:

Saper, C. B. (2010). The dance of the perivascular and endothelial cells: mechanisms of brain response to immune signaling. Neuron, 65(1), 4-6. Retrieved from:

Sawami, K., Kimura, M., Kitamura, T., Kawaguchi, M., Furusumi, M., Suishu, C., ... & Hattori, S. (2019). Cognitive ability and psychological effectiveness of brain training dance robot therapy for elderly people. Retrieved from:

Collaborating with Drs. Stricker and Calongne in Virtual Harmony Nov 2018
In mid-2019, I was rooting for the Indian Space Research Organization's efforts to successfully land the Vikram spacecraft on the moon's surface. I follow most of the US astronauts who use Twitter and it is impossible not to catch their enthusiasm for space-related achievements. Our Virtual Harmony Research Group also continues to explore space-related themes weekly using OpenSimulator. We made presentations at the 2018 OpenSimulator Community Conference and at the 2019 VWBPE Conference on these themes that are also further described in two IGI Books as well that came out in 2018 and 2019. The space dock shown in the photo reminds me of another favorite dance video referred to in a previous blog post.

India's Vikram Lander did not have a happy ending on the Moon and researchers are still looking into what happened. It was so sad to see the disappointment among all the scientists and school children watching live on television as events unfolded. My curiosity about India led me to Netflix and Amazon Prime to look for documentaries, movies, and TV shows. I will always regret not going on a research trip to India as part of my doctoral program.

My search for Indian shows to watch created an interest in how dance is incorporated into Bollywood movies. Some dance numbers seemed a little corny to me, mostly in the romantic numbers. Most dance numbers were refreshing, uplifting, and made me happy until in some cases the plots resorted to death, destruction, and revenge. Before long, I discovered the star, Hrithik Roshan (fan site), an incredible actor and phenomenal dancer who also starred in a 2019 movie about a real-life mathematics teacher, Anand Kumar called Super 30. Kumar's philanthropic efforts and effective teaching strategies have made some dramatic, award-winning contributions. Notice of Super 30's movie's showing in Central Florida must have come and gone. Movie lovers and educators I know were not aware. Previously I had attended events on the topic of smart cities hosted by the Indian American Chamber of Commerce. Unfortunately, I am not currently involved in the UCF India Center. Perhaps that will change now.

While trying to find out if anyone I knew could lead me how to find how to watch Super 30, two music videos came out via YouTube of another movie that Hrithik Roshan starred called "War". That title is not something that attracts me and at first, it looked like another Hollywood action flick that I tend to watch years later since no one I know really talks about it for long except to say, "Yeah, it was entertaining." The first video released was Ghungroo Song that at first glance appeared so glamorous and sexualized especially for the female lead (Vaani Kapoor), my interest evaporated. This movie did not appear to reflect the challenges of average people and especially marginalized citizens. Meanwhile, as I watched a few Indian movies I would stop and look up as many terms, places, and historical facts to follow along. The movie Jodhaa Akbar revived my interest in history. The soundtrack was mesmerizing and I got it on iTunes just before Apple did away with the service *sigh* The dance scenes in the movie were epic. The whirling Sufis scene stayed with me as a means of mystical meditation.

So I was beginning to get a sense of the languages, geographical landscape, and even some of the religious considerations that India represents. Wow! So much to learn. I watched the Story of India documentary made by PBS and browsed the website for Q&A. As a global learning professional and someone who loved the movie Gandhi, I was aware that India had previously been colonized and involved Pakistan and Bangladesh. The only other Indian-related movie I really remember was another favorite, The Life of Pi.

Virtual Juror Class Project 2011
I do feel a deep connection with India since my doctoral program (2011) when for the Strategic Use of Virtual Worlds class, my group (3 members) was involved in choosing a theme and making an environment in Second Life that illustrated the international aspects of community service. We chose to compare legal systems between the U.S., India, South Africa, and Saudi Arabia. Specifically, we chose to make a courthouse and showcase how jurors were involved. Or not involved! We were novice builders and we did not know each other, but we worked hard in our 10-week, online class to create an environment. The project was transformational. My photos do not do justice to the environments since I really did not have the skills (or time!) to use the software.

I will never forget when our VW class was able to make a field trip in Second Life to a location that represented a historical event in Indian history that I remember in my lifetime. When we looked for *any* educational activities that were taking place on the Second Life grid from Saudia Arabia there was no surprise that none could be found. None was found for South Africa too, but for India, we found a place that was made not for educational purposes, but for an apocalyptic, role-playing game.

2011 Second Life Role Playing Game Environment
The 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy represented a disaster with ongoing legal implications for residents who lived and still struggle to live in the region. As our avatars walked through the virtual plant and we saw the haze representing the deadly gas, chills overcame me creating vivid memories of that learning experience. Having a tour guide from India who made the environment was so beneficial to imagine the impact of converging events that led to the tragedy. Nearly the same number of people died in the tragedy compared to 9/11 in the U.S., but over 500,000 were exposed to effects that have created ongoing medical issues. Union Carbide was eventually bought by the Dow Chemical company. My classmates could not believe that such a useful representation of the plant was not being used to teach Chemistry, healthcare, emergency management, business ethics, or legal studies. The environment probably no longer exists in Second Life due to the lack of funding. What a wasted opportunity.

Currently, my study of India includes awareness of recent social justice efforts within arts and media. India is set to possess the largest population in the world and it is the largest English speaking country despite high illiteracy. The caste system creates inequity for many to receive an education, which is why the movie Super 30 is so important for me. Inadequate infrastructure and large rural needs also are a challenge. Ironically, the ancient Hindu celebration called Holi, or Celebration of Spring, or Colors, or Love is for everyone regardless of socioeconomic status. The celebration involves playfully throwing colorful powders on anyone and everyone, practically anywhere during the brief phase. Emphasis on forgiveness and reconciliation is also associated with Holi.

Then on September 21, 2019, the second music video for Roshan's War movie came out. Since then my rational scientific mind has been challenged not to jump up on tables to dance and sing every time I hear it, which is daily now. Immediately, I saw the connection to social equality. The choreography. The colors. The dance moves. The drum cadence. The camaraderie between Hrithik and Tiger (lead male stars). This is not war at all!! It is life celebrated wholeheartedly and physically. I cannot understand a word of Hindi, but it is clear this is a war of playful coopertition (cooperation + competition).

I had to see the War movie now, but where? Who could I get to go with me? Who would understand my fascination with India? Thankfully, Universal Studios in Orlando had a showing on October 2nd, 2019. Typically, I love to attend premiers with all the excited fans who dress up and wait for hours and cheer in the theater. Attending premiers makes watching so much more fun. I have also studied fandom as the intense learning that can take place among communities can be very useful. The discussions about the Lord of the Rings series were intense when those movies came out. Comparisons with the writings and their associations with history were powerful. I also consider myself a fan as a Browncoat (Firefly) and Screaming Firehawk (The Expanse).

So after work, I made my way across town in the rush hour traffic to Universal by myself. The park was busy, but the theaters were quiet. The last time I had watched a movie there was December 31st when we celebrated the new millennium with Prince's 1999 (RIP). There was also a Y2K scare so the rollercoasters were tested 45 minutes to make sure they were operating normally. Thankfully, the War movie was captioned and it was first-rate, worthy of all its records. It is sad to me that my contemporaries are not in tune with how India is advancing in cinema and other areas.

We get so little international news in the U.S. The cost for parking was nearly triple than the cost of the movie but it was well worth it. I cannot wait to see War again or buy it. The full dance scenes were most enjoyable to me. Every little beleaguered, oxygen-deprived cell in my poor body was filled with joy. No wonder there are over a 100 million views of the music video. Congratulations!!! The Ghungroo song grew on me too and I really enjoy seeing all the fan videos making tributes and tutorials for how to learn the steps. I wish I could make a video game where players could actually learn the steps and the songs. These could be used for so much therapy, physical fitness, and team building across generations and societies. In late November, the War Movie became available on Amazon Prime.

Wait! What about the movie Super 30? Remember? The value of education? Studying all the time? Learning from everywhere, questioning everything? Being able to access books and resources? Finally, I found Super 30 available on Hotstar, a streaming service in India. Watched on my iPad and cried a lot. Just thinking about all of the obstacles makes me rethink my life. Oh how we need the appreciation for the quality of life we have. The availability of inexpensive goods, security, opportunity, open libraries, health care... I watched Super30 again the same day on my big TV with the sound system up loud. What a remarkable story.

Of course, I am following Anand Kumar on Twitter and praying for the safety of him and his remarkable school. Contrasting the dramatization of movies with known facts is a valuable exercise in critical thinking. The achievements are real. Wow. How I have dreamed of being able to help create rich media to show the beauty of mathematics and science. The Question Mark scene in Super30 reminded me of learning in virtual worlds where the "Art-of-the-Possible" abounds. I hope some filmmakers follow the graduates of the program and discover the impact these talented, resilient people have made. Congratulations to Hrithik Roshan too for taking the role to make the film. The starpower amplifies the impact. I am so glad I pay attention to advances in science. I look forward to living for the times when we have collaborative, transdisciplinary research that is mutually beneficial across borders to benefit our societies. Learning originates with us.

To learn more about the Super 30 program watch this Al Jezeera mini-documentary.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Language of the Heart

Placeholder for me to look into this movie and movement. How I miss the fellowship with my doctoral cohort.

Shake the Dust 

Shake the Dust from BOND Strategy & Influence on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Research in Virtual Environments - Update

My quest continues to apply existing research findings from my doctoral program. Progress has been made to create my own virtual world regions and incorporate artful freebees available via Creative Commons licensing. Family members have joined in to experience virtual field trips and communities across distance. Fusion Unlimited Networks Research was incorporated as a non-profit company in March 2014 to use simulation for philanthropy. In May, I joined colleagues to work part-time at UCF's Institute for Simulation & Training in METIL. A huge milestone was the publication of my dissertation by Proquest in October 2014. For anyone who is interested, a .pdf document is available from the CIRET website. Naturally, my virtual region has to become a tribute to space exploration and marine exploration, and well.. all exploration!

Space Room in Virtual Cabin Retreat
Delightful's Region on Kitely
Discovering new pathways of inquiry are sought to design research questions regarding virtual experiences. Possibilities abound as the OpenSim platform and community matures. Many researchers are trying to become versed in multiple platforms, exchanging knowledge along the way. Another great way to learn is from children of course. Some of my grand-children are old enough now to join me together in the same place or apart to gather virtually. We have created memories to treasure of shared, virtual experiences more meaningful with loved ones. Cross-generational learning is feasible to assist the aging and maturing population.

Discussing Lego Camp Together
Discussing Lego Camp Together at a Distance
Creating and participating in mirror worlds offer the potential for using virtual environments for training. The challenge has been how to inexpensively create models and environments. Continued involvement with the MOSES OpenSim community afforded the opportunity to learn about a scanning project of the actual location where I work. Participating in making the machinima below was a bonding event in itself. I cannot wait to learn the digital literacies to get behind the camera and make stories myself. Considering the talent and generosity within the community, it won't be long for me to learn. Many people are excited to make stuff to print in 3D. I want scan stuff to put into 3D worlds. Again, the possibilities are promising.

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
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
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. 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 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: