AS034

AS034 Second Life for Hair and Beauty at Tasmanian Polytechnic

Background

This project will establish a virtual Hair and Beauty salon in Second Life to provide an immersive and realistic experience of the products, services, work routines and expectations of the contemporary Hair and Beauty workplace. This will benefit pre-apprenticeship Hairdressing and adult Beauty Therapy students enrolled in institution-based pathways at the Tasmanian Polytechnic.

The project aims at a very realistic level of simulation in the planning and building of the salon through a partnership with a 3D Design firm, Clever Design, which has experience in this field.

Embedded in the virtual environment will be a series of authentic, problem-based learning and assessment scenarios which will allow us to address a range of limitations inherent in physical, simulated work environments.

Project Summary

How will the project improve learner access to improve employment outcomes?
The inherent flexibility of the virtual world will also increase students skill development and practise work-related skills in a contemporary work environment. Improved learning outcomes will in turn boost their employment and apprenticeship prospects in identified areas of occupational growth. In summary, student outcomes are as follows:-
  • Improved access to authentic, work-based learning environments through elearning
  • Higher levels of engagement in learning (particularly in relation to the more generic units which will be targeted)
  • Improved employability skills (particularly communication, problem-solving, collaboration, technology)
  • Enhanced work ethic, and familiarity with the expectations, protocols and routines of a working salon environment
  • Enhanced sense of identity and self-esteem through creation and manipulation of avatars
  • Enhanced sense of connectivity.

The learning approach, program and technologies used are described as follows:-
This project will establish a virtual Hair and Beauty salon in Second Life, located on the pre-existing “Polytechnic Island”. The development of the salon will be guided by designs from Mike Cleaver’s ‘Clever Design’ company, using ‘Graphisoft’ 3D modelling software.

Second Life scripting language will be used to incorporate common work roles and processes into the design of the salon, and its resident avatars (management staff and clients), in order to mirror the operating environment and management of a modern Hair and Beauty workplace.

Embedded into the virtual salon will be a range of problem-based learning and assessment scenarios which are immersive, authentic and media-rich. These will present as tasks and challenges to be undertaken by students in the role of salon staff. The scenarios will focus on client needs, and will primarily address competencies related to OHS, communication, customer service, appointment booking, selling, product knowledge, sustainability and financial procedures.

The scenarios will be designed flexibly so that they can operate either as live scenarios with teachers using voice tools to role play salon staff, or as recorded scenarios which can be accessed at any time. As noted earlier, some source material may be drawn from the 2008 Cyber Hair Studio Toolbox.

Teaching staff will maintain a consistent and active presence ‘in role’ in the salon, to monitor student activity, identify any areas of confusion, and provide support where appropriate. This will also provide an important source of evaluation data, and will point to any ‘fixes’ needed for subsequent versions of the salon.

Assessment of performance in the virtual salon will largely serve formative purposes, with summative judgements being confirmed when evidence is integrated from other sources (eg practical demonstration and questioning in the physical simulated work environment).

Early in their course, students will be inducted into the Second Life world, and the virtual salon. They will be supported where necessary to learn the movement, communication and interaction skills needed for Second Life, and to establish their own identity by creating a personal avatar.

In fact, there is a great synergy between Second Life and Hair and Beauty training. The process of developing and adapting an avatar in itself is an ideal induction activity for Hair and Beauty students.

How does this project align to the jurisdictional and national priorities?
This project strongly supports the call for skill development contained in Service Skills Australia’s 2011 Environmental Scan for Hairdressing and Personal Services:

Industry feedback has identified a number of skills that the hairdressing and beauty workforce will be required to have in order to meet the expectations of consumers who are increasingly demanding. These include higher level technical skills; higher level customer service and interpersonal skills; the ability to meet the needs of culturally diverse customers (for example, providing services for different skin colours and hair types); knowledge of compliance requirements; increased practical experience and IT skills to update websites and utilise social networking and other technologies for booking management.
(Hairdressing and Personal Services, Environmental Scan 2011, Service Skills Australia, p.11)

The report also calls for a stronger focus on employability and work readiness for graduates of institutional pathways in Hair and Beauty training – exactly the focus of this project.

The project also supports one of the key objectives of Service Skills Australia’s ‘Right Way’ industry recognition scheme which aims to “promote the development of … effective learning resources which align to training package content.“ (Environmental Scan, p. 14).

Consultation with stakeholders
Evidence of consultation and/or partnership with relevant stakeholders is a requirement for this funding ie meetings, documentation
The Tasmanian Polytechnic has consulted with Service skills Australia and Skills Tasmania in relation to identifying skill shortages. Service skills Australia's 2011 Environmental Scan for Hairdressing and Personal Services states:-
Industry feedback has identified a number of skills that the hairdressing and beauty workforce will be required to have in order to meet the expectations of consumers who are increasingly demanding. These include higher level technical skills; higher level customer service and interpersonal skills; the ability to meet the needs of culturally diverse customers (for example, providing services for different skin colours and hair types); knowledge of compliance requirements; increased practical experience and IT skills to update websites and utilise social networking and other technologies for booking management.
(Hairdressing and Personal Services, Environmental Scan 2011, Service Skills Australia, p.1

In order to meet meet these challenges, an industry partnership with award-winning Tasmanian 3D design company, ‘Clever Design’, who utilise sophisticated graphic techniques was employed to guide the building of a highly realistic and contemporary virtual salon. This will not only provide a convincing, immersive experience for students, but will also provide insights into current industry trends in salon services and design. Significantly, ‘Clever Design’ has had recent experience in planning a hairdressing and beauty salon refurbishment, utilising Second Life-style graphics (see http://www.cleverdesign.com.au/vanadium_video.html ).

Second Life Salon - Conceptual Phase

Industry partner - 3D designs for Hairdressing salon made in Lightwave V10.1
abovetexture_web.jpgsalonentranceweb.jpg

Intended outcomes from your project

What do you hope to achieve with the funding?
‘Product’ outcomes
  • An operational virtual hair and beauty salon on ‘Polytechnic Island’ in Second Life, with embedded, problem-based learning and assessment scenarios in a shared user space
  • Text and video-based case studies reporting on a completed pilot with at least 20 students, targeting selected units from Certificates II and III in Hairdressing, and Certificate IV in Beauty Therapy.
  • Packaged environment to run on a USB memory stick for single user access where high-speed broadband is not available or is unreliable.

Student outcomes
  • Improved access to authentic, work-based learning environments through elearning
  • Higher levels of engagement in learning (particularly in relation to the more generic units which will be targeted)
  • Improved employability skills (particularly communication, problem-solving, collaboration, technology)
  • Enhanced work ethic, and familiarity with the expectations, protocols and routines of a working salon environment
  • Enhanced sense of identity and self-esteem through creation and manipulation of avatars
  • Enhanced sense of connectivity.

Students in Second Life - Learning

Hair_student2_web.jpg

Teacher outcomes
  • Professional development in teaching with Second Life, and problem-based learning and assessment
  • Access to superior simulated workplace environment as a platform for more authentic learning experiences
  • Improved capacity to design and implement elearning solutions.

Organisational outcomes
  • A core of staff who can share expertise and experience as colleague mentors
  • Modelling of the potential of immersive virtual worlds for other teaching areas
  • More engaging, authentic learning spaces, leading to more satisfied students and stakeholders

Outcomes for stakeholders (Skills Tasmania, Service Skills Australia, employers)
  • Enhanced capacity of the Tasmanian Polytechnic to address skills shortage areas through higher quality training
  • Enhanced authenticity for simulated work environments (identified as an issue for institutional pathways)
  • Demonstration of the potential of elearning to provide powerful solutions to skills formation challenges.

Technical considerations

This section relates to multiple students having conversations in Second Life within a classroom and inside a firewall from a technical perspective. It is an important consideration in this project. Photo below to illustrate.
multiple_avis2.jpg

Actual Outcomes resulting from this project

What was done? List what your project actually achieved with the funding.





Project's FlickR Photo Album

Products

  • Inventory Archive (IAR file) - a zipped file (8.5 MB) containing all the Hair Salon Assets for uploading to Second Life or OpenSim inventories. See OpenSim Inventory Archives for more information and help.
  • OpenSim Archive (OAR file) - a zipped file (760MB) containing a single region island with Mall and Hair Salon for uploading to OpenSim installations. See OpenSim Archives for more information and help.

Note that the Mall is based on Linda Kellie's Freebie Mall 2.0. Digital assets in the Mall are licensed under Creative Commons 3.0 and are free to use. Care should be taken to check that the Mall contains age appropriate items for intended audiences. Hypergrid links are also available in a building near the Mall and these should also be checked.

The above products can be uploaded to OpenSim compatible installations. In particular they can be used with the USB SIM-ON-A-STICK OpenSim distribution available for download from http://simonastick.com/ Help on how to install OAR and IAR files to OpenSim is available here and here.

Benefits experienced by


Lead Agent

  • The professional development program for Hair & Beauty staff has provided staff with skills in engaging learning strategies - particularly for the 16-19 year old cohort.
  • The final outcome - a fully operational salon "Virtually Foiled" available on single user USB stick means that we are not reliant on technology not working and students from the greater population of the Polytechnic can also reap the benefits of the learning.
  • Teachers have been able to use Virtually Foiled as a platform for more authentic learning experiences - ie. demonstrations for shampooing hair, etc.
  • A core group of teachers now have the skills sets and expertise to act as mentors/coaches to other staff.

Partner - Clever Design

For our architectural partner, Clever Design, it provided an opportunity to design architecture in Second Life. The skills sets developed by the team have provided a sound grounding for any future projects.

Learners
  • Gaining a sense of identity in the virtual world through manipulation of avatars. For example, it was important for the Hair and Beauty students to actally "dress for the part" before entering into the 3D virtual salon. Each class they went to the shopping mall, chose their hairstyles, jewellery, accessories and appropriate clothing - then they were ready to interact. In effect, this demonstrated that they understood the "real world" whereby personal presentation is an important part of the hairdressing/beauty role.
  • Engagement and increased motivation of the learners because it has encouraged active participation and experimental learning. It has proven to be an exciting 3D online digital environment that students have really engaged in because it has been a place that is exciting to learn in and emulates the workings of real salon environment.
  • Employability skill sets have been key outcomes specifically skills in technology, problem solving and collaboration

Reflections and Suggestions

The feedback from the cohort of students has been very positive. It has totally engaged students at a different level being emersed in a virtual world. Providing students with "Second Life" funds to purchase items from the shopping malls added a "realistic element" as it meant that they could shop for their identity. The "identity" of the students was one of the most surprising outcomes of the project as it was this aspect that engaged them the most before they were ready for their learning.
Our team and students look forward to using the salon as it was initially intended without the restrictions of technology.

Sustainability of project outcomes


Upon completion of the project, students will maintain an active presence on the Polytechnic Island, Hair & Beauty salon. Dedicated sessions have been timetabled for the entirety of 2012 which will ensure students will utilise and have positive experiences in their salon. It is also proposed to offer further units leading to qualifications beyond 2012 given the commitment we have to this project, particularly for the younger year 11-12 cohort.

Acknowledgement

This is a an Access to Skills project output, developed by the Tasmanian Polytechnic and Clever Design with seed funding from the National VET e-learning strategy.

For more information
For more information on this project, contact details are:-
Tasmanian Polytechnic
Vicki Cleaver
Workforce Learning Leader
Hobart
vicki.cleaver@polytechnic.tas.edu.au
Ph 03 6233 7395
For more information on the partner organisation
Clever Design
Mike Cleaver, Principal
Hobart
03 6248 8283
www.cleverdesign.com.au
For more information on the Access to Skills program:
Phone: (08) 9229 5200
Email: accesstoskills@dtwd.wa.gov.au
Website: www.flexiblelearning.net.au