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Can a Vitual Reality Social Network, Such as Seceond Life, Provide Realistic Training?

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Awardee County
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2010, $499,931)

The Northern California Regional Public Safety Training Authority (Training Authority) will determine if commercially produced social networking systems, such as Second Life (SL), can be adapted to provide realistic and productive training for law enforcement and corrections students throughout the nation. The Training Authority has been impacted by changing work requirements, and wide-spread budgetary constraints have prevented students from participating in our training. Virtual Reality (VR) training may provide an alternative training venue.
Preliminary research indicates that Second Life (SL) is a viable VR program. SL is a 3-D virtual world where users can create an avatar to represent their persona inside the environment (i.e., training activity). SL users can create buildings, landscapes, or anything users can imagine including public safety equipment, uniforms, jails, patrol cars, weapons, etc. The SL is a social network connecting people/users via the internet. Users are required to download a thin platform onto a computer; however, the vast majority of the program is run by SL. There is no cost to the end user to create their basic avatar.
The Training Authority has proposed the following goals:
1) Redesign the Training Authority's existing intelligence analysts' active classroom training to become a VR active classroom;
2) Redesign the tactical village critical-thinking decision-making facility's training to be presented in a VR program;
3) Redesign the parole agent's Motivational Interviewing course to become a VR active classroom;
4) Compare and contrast VR against test classrooms and/or training facilities;
5) Compare and contrast how different VR vocational training presentation methodologies impact criminal justice students; and
6) Report the research findings to a national audience using multiple information-sharing medias.


Date Created: September 16, 2010