Academic libraries are moving towards experimenting with 3D virtual spaces in order to promote their digital open repositories both here in Australia, and abroad (Dunavant-Jones, A., & San Jose State University, S., 2017). Access to open repositories enable individuals to share and collaborate across multiple platforms in order to create new artefacts, and often this result in new communities of interest. This process can be referred to as convergence culture or transmedia storytelling. Jenkins (2007) described transmedia storytelling as representing “a process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience.
Although multiple platforms for collaboration exists, the problem statement for this DBR proposal ask the following question:
How can librarian educators use 3D virtual spaces to promote open repositories in order to teach information literacy skills for transmedia storytelling?
- Is Second Life a good option for promoting open repositories for transmedia storytelling?
- How would copyright issues be addressed?
- How would the R.A.T framework be adhered to in teaching information literacy skills for transmedia storytelling?
The literature review aims to discuss how the use of Second Life could aid in promoting open repositories and the teaching of information skills for creativity, collaboration, and cultural understanding. The journal literature available in researching 3D virtual spaces overwhelmingly focus on Second Life. Multiple educational platforms for collaboration such as Moodle and Blackboard are discussed for learning environments however, this literature review will focus on Second Life and how it can be used for collaboration to encourage the creating of artefacts for transmedia storytelling. Situated online, anyone can access Second Life, thus providing librarians with the power to promote their libraries’ open repositories while also using this opportunity to teach information literacy skills that would enable anyone to participate and collaborate in transmedia storytelling communities. Transmedia storytelling refers to the use of media in multiple formats that are combined to tell a story or share information. In reviewing the literature, it also indicates that technical challenges such as cross-platform convergence needs to be considered when planning collaboration and the creation of shareable artefacts for transmedia storytelling.
Peek (2007) says that in theory “if you build it, they will come” but are quick to point out that Avatars (virtual characters representing individuals) in Second Life seems to be most active during the evening hours and thus deem it unlikely that anything built in Second Life is of any value other than the entertainment factor. Wankel (2016) argues that collaboration in Second Life does not have to be synchronous, as creators can leave messages or if teams work on creations together, those not able to attend the meeting can do so later when convenient. Quoting Eduserv (2009), Elliot and Probets (2011) state that by 2010 “nearly every UK University is using Second Life to some extent”. It appears therefore that educational institutions are recognising the value of Second Life as an online collaboration space.
Establishing that Second Life is in fact used by educational institutions, this literature review continues to examine how librarians are utilising this 3D space to the advantage of their libraries. Blankenship and Hollingsworth (2009) state that Second Life provides librarians and educators with opportunities to teach information skills beyond the library and the traditional classroom. In researching why people would prefer to access library services in Second Life above a text or chat base service, Erdman (2007) found that Second Life was better in providing a personalised service because of the visual nature in that one can ‘see’ the librarians.
Grassian and Trueman (2007) recognises the technological challenges of navigating within Second Life but reminds us of the opportunities for networking, community building and experimenting with services that librarians in the real world often do not have the time for as ‘real life’ services can be interrupted easier than when working in Second Life. Wankel (2016) suggest that educators should partner those less familiar with Second Life with those more comfortable around the virtual world for peer support and networking.
Mon (2012) studied the impact of “avatar-mediated communication” on the professionalism of librarians and found that in creating avatars, librarians still preferred to portray themselves as similar to their real-life appearance, especially those working in educational institutions. Webber and Nahl (2011) however say that librarians are more concerned about establishing communication and trust in their Second Life library, exactly as they would in their physical library space.
Mon (2012) state that librarians built their virtual libraries to look similar to those in real life and have built links into their Second Life books that would enable anyone ‘picking up’ that book to be transferred to the link. Wankel (2016) says that the “open-ended nature of Second Life fosters an array of academic activity”, and thus linking to open repositories from all tertiary institutions not only promote cross-cultural community building, it also stimulates the creative mind to use resources for transmedia storytelling.
Grassian and Trueman (2007) say that one of the major advances of library communities within Second Life is that book discussions can come to life as avatars dress-up as the characters, and librarians can design historical exhibitions better with the visual aid and resources of Second Life. Ralph and Stahr (2010) found that in a collaboration between the library and faculty teaching staff, the creation and development of a Second Life library gave both off- and on-campus students the ability to participate in campus-wide projects, without the need for extensive marketing. Ryan (2015) state that transmedia storytelling excels in an environment where there are multiple participants and creative engagement result in unique artefacts and cultural inclusion.
Floyd and Frank (2012) observe that librarians use Second Life the same as in ‘real life’. They are “teaching information literacy, highlighting their collections, doing book talks and book displays, linking to library resources, doing exhibits, providing meeting spaces, and providing traditional reference services”. However, Floyd and Frank (2012) also point out that Second Life is not the only 3D virtual world available, and raises the question as to how librarians would be able to make their digital collections available across different platforms, should their libraries choose to occupy more than one 3D learning space. Kotsilieris, Karetsos, Anagnostopoulos and Dimopoulou (2014) suggests a solution for cross-platform availability in adopting mobile agent technology, a “platform-independent piece of code that can move from machine to machine”. As transmedia storytelling involves created assets to be moved around Second Life, physical coding might not be necessary.
In concluding the literature review, it was discussed that Second Life can offer librarians opportunities to promote the use of open repositories for transmedia storytelling. However, the technological challenge of becoming skilled in navigating around Second Life is one of the issues to address. Librarians also need to keep in mind that technology date quite quickly, and that in planning to build open repository resources within a 3D learning space, it is wise to investigate cross-platform compatibility and what impact it will have on the convergence of inventory and created artefacts. Technological challenges aside, the opportunities for librarians in community building, networking and the teaching of information literacy skills in Second Life could reach more individuals across the globe, and address the concerns of those patrons with physical disabilities that find it difficult to travel to ‘real world’ spaces.
- Community building through collaboration
- Creating of shareable artifacts for transmedia storytelling
- Cross-platform collaboration
- Creative Commons license friendly
Intervention is suggested in that Second Life be used to build a 3D library to promote open repositories, and to establish a learning community that collaborates in creating artefacts for transmedia storytelling.
Measuring the use of Second Life against the R.A.T. framework, the following is advised:
- Replacement – Second Life is a platform where any links to sources created outside of the ‘library’, can be accessed and updated as needed. Being visual in nature, Second Life allows creators to view objects imported and placed. No creation needs to be stagnant. In combining various elements from different open repositories, new artefacts can be created. For example, poems from one source can be merged with images from another source, creating a new artefact that could be displayed within Second Life or a screen-print could be shared via another social media platform.
- Amplification – Librarian educators can showcase various elements from their open repositories to entice Second Life ‘avatars’ to engage in collaboration. Images from open repositories can be ‘framed’ and hung within a Second Life interactive museum display, where the ‘touch’ of an avatar could prompt the image to change into another.
- Transformation – Creators can use images from open repositories to create GIF files, which can be showcased within Second Life, or writers of fan fiction can use the material to combine images and text in a visual display of revolving images or a short film.
It is advised that all newly created artefacts adhere to licensing agreements as specified. Librarian educators need to teach the relevant information literacy skills for copyright as it relates to transmedia storytelling. Open repository items within Second Life should display a full description of Creative Commons licensing, and should clearly state the sharing and collaboration requirements. It is advised that only open repository resources already associated with a Creative Commons license be promoted in Second Life in order to minimise the potential for copyright issues as artefacts are shared across multiple platforms.
In conclusion, Second Life has been identified as a suitable platform for transmedia storytelling in a 3D virtual space. Academic libraries that are to promote open repositories in Second Life, should ensure that Creative Commons licensing is specified and enforced where possible. Cross-cultural community building can be established through the promotion of open repositories in Second Life, and librarians are reminded to bear cross-platform capabilities in mind to allow for created artefacts to be shared outside of Second Life.
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