CILT(UK) > Careers > Managing your Career > Research & Funding > Seed Corn > Dr Debbie Holley

Second Life: Exploring warehouse safety safely in a 3D virtual world

Health and Safety is a key aspect of running a successful logistics business. Dr Debbie Holley, London Metropolitan University along with Clipper Logistics developed a CILT Seed Corn funded 3D warehouse in the popular virtual world website ‘Second Life’.

‘More and more, people expect to be able to work, learn, study, and connect with their social networks wherever and whenever they want to.’ New Horizons report 2010:5

The increasing use of 3D and other ‘Virtual Worlds’ for educational and business use is a highly contested area. Although there are a number of refereed papers on the theoretical constructs and underpinnings of Second Life – – there is little formal research reported as yet into the learning experiences of student and lecturer interactions within these worlds.Herold, 2010 By 2011 it was estimated that about 80% of active internet users will have an ‘avatar’ and/or a ‘second life’ in some form of virtual world environment.Chang et al 2009 The highest growing area of ‘Second Life’ user is the 35–43 age group, which challenges current assumptions that these new technologies are of interest to younger students only. Whilst one may contest the exact figures it seems reasonable to assume that use of ‘Virtual World’ technology is only going to increase.

CILT awards seedcorn funding each year to support research into different aspects of the logistics sector. The panel were pleased to get a proposal suggesting the exploration of an aspect of warehousing in the immersive world of ‘Second Life’, especially as this could enable CILT students from all over the world to engage with each other ‘in world’ as well as undertaking individual health and safety tasks to develop their awareness of this crucial aspect of the business.

The project
Clipper Logistics was introduced, by CILT, to a project team from Anglia Ruskin and London Metropolitan Universities. Having been briefed on the requirements Clipper was keen to work in partnership to share their knowledge. It was agreed they would be the industry lead in a project to explore health and safety dimensions in new and innovative formats. This project developed a new learning tool to overcome some of the obstacles to on-site visits, and also to address changing learning patterns and methods of teaching delivery.

Part of the project was to develop a warehouse in 3D, using the affordances of technologies powering immersive virtual worlds – in this case ‘Second Life’: – that would be accessible to any student with a PC and broadband connection.

By creating an online warehouse with a number of design and operational flaws, the problems of bridging time and space, especially for international students or students with learning disabilities, can be overcome.

The shared project aims:

1. To provide insights into the learning experiences that can be offered to students and/or staff studying both locally or at a distance.

2. To develop insights and capture the experiences of developing a virtual warehouse that will have some health and safety features lacking; thus offering a ‘task’ for students to undertake in small teams.

3. To scaffold the student experience of learning in a new learning environment.

4. To develop a sustainable resource that can used and updated as industry standards for health and safety continue to improve.

The 3D Warehousing Project is available to view here



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