Introductions & Group Formations

Derek, Eric presenting 19aug15e

Today’s meeting began with introductions.
Each team member presented their prepared personal presentation to the rest of the team. We even had Gwenette listening from inworld, so the whole team was present, except for a few or our professional consultants and researchers. Since there are biographies of each of the team members to view on this site, I won’t re-cap on each presentation. I will say, however, that based on the introductions, we all have some impressive skills and knowledge to bring to the table. At the end of each presentation, Leonard asked us which role we saw ourselves taking in the JJIE Virtual World Project based on our previous work experience.

After all of the presentations, we split into the groups in which we felt we could best use our talents.
These are the groups that were formed (some people overlapped, as they will perform various roles for the Project):
Technology (Virtual World Builders): Derek, Erik & Cristina
Journalism: Ann, Ariel, Camille, Claire, Jackson, Jourdan, Kevin, Linda
Public Relations: Kasi, Linda, Ariel, Claire
Research: Claire & Ariel & essentially the whole group when it comes to all of the research we will have to contribute to make this Project possible

While in our groups, we discussed the next steps to take. The Journalism Crew focused on the stories we planned to cover. We threw around some ideas and circled back around to one story that Leonard had mentioned from the start about a man named Alton Pitre. Although Alton is no longer a youth, his story is very interesting.  He was born in Califronia, was incarcerated as a teen, and then completely turned his life around when he was finally released. Since he currently works for the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, he is an easy, immediate contact for a quick story.
However, we do want to keep searching for stories in Georgia (preferably of youth who are still in prison), so that we can work to amplify their voices while they are in the system.

We talked about the need to do more research on Alton’s story, as well as to be on the lookout for other stories. Claire & Ariel jumped on these Research roles to jumpstart the project. Camille discussed her connections to a youth detention center where she could possibly get us a tour for a visual representation of place (not only for the Journalists, but for the Virtual Worlds group as well). Jourdan also mentioned her connections with a group called Turning Point Therapy.  She may be able to get us connected with the youth there.

By the end of the meeting (and about 2 hours beyond), we were eager to take up our roles and begin our research.

Story Search Success!

As of about 2PM today, we found our story!
I am so excited about the one we finally decided upon after a Conference Call with Steve Reba.
– A now 30-year old man who was sentenced to jail for 40 years at age 13. In-and-out of foster care and under different medications, he was involved in a ride-along robbery in which he did not even hold any possession of a gun. His story seems very compelling and a great fit for our virtual world.
Since Steve, a professor at Emory law and a lawyer who specializes in representation of juveniles who have been tried as adults, has been working with the boy for many years, we will be working with him throughout this project to collect all of the information we need.
Currently, I am waiting for Steve to share the documents of the boy’s background with us so that we can begin our research. From here, we hope to get an interview with the boy and other people (foster parents, case workers, etc) who have known the boy over time.

We want to collect information as quickly as possible in order to relay it to the Technology group so they can begin their inworld construction.
Speaking of technology, I also need to get back to the Virtual side of things and complete some more inworld assignments!

& So It Begins… (Well, Continues)

First Group Meeting @ The Center

Since Derek and Erik (our two virtual world builders) did so much work over the summer on the virtual side of the project, we can hardly say that this is the “beginning” of the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange (JJIE) Virtual Worlds Project.

However, today was our first meeting.
We met early for an 8:15AM breakfast at the
Center for Sustainable Journalism. After some social time, we met in the conference room to begin talking Virtual Worlds & Machinima.

After brief introductions of each of the team members, we immediately began discussion of the Georgia Juvenile Justice system and some of the main issues involved. Referring to the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange (founded by Leonard Witt, the project director), we discussed this niche journalism as well as the main issues in the system: Mental Health, Substance Abuse, LGBTQ, Disproportionate Minority, Evidence-Based Practice, Indignant Defense, and the School-to-Jailhouse Pipeline. Just like the JJIE, the goal of our project is to give juveniles in the justice system a place to speak and really amplify their voices in a way in which others can actually walk through their story as avatars in a virtual world.

Next, Derek and Erik gave us an overview of what they have been working on with Gwenette all summer: creating a scene of a Chicago circa 1990’s story. They showed us around the virtual world a bit, and told us about many of the components that went into its development.

Then, we met virtually with Gwenette Writer-Sinclair (Virtual World project consultant).  She was inworld and we met with her via the live image and sounds of the world projected into our meeting room. She presented more in-depth information about the virtual side of the project and gave us a visual tour of the JJIE Welcome Workshop region. Although we will all be working in different groups (Journalism, Public Relations, Virtual/Tech, Research), it is important that we all know how to navigate through the Virtual World. This will allow everyone to understand the affordances of the immersive, virtual world platform and possibilities for our project. This understanding is especially important for Journalists as they collect the stories and gather all of the necessary information to relay over to the inworld builders, so that they can develop each scene of the story.

This being said, Gwenette will be assigning different inworld tasks so that the team can become familiar with the affordances of OpenSimulator platform. She has already created tutorial exercises in the Welcome Workshop region that we will enter using the Firestorm OpenSim Viewer, as soon as we create our JJIE VW Grid avatars.

We also discussed the group’s basic communication platforms:

  • E-mail
  • Group Meetings (all 12 weekly Wednesday + separate group meetings)
  • GoogleDrive in order to share assignments, docs, pictures, information, etc.
  • We may also meet with each other inworld during our tasks in the JJIE Welcome Workshop region

The meeting ended with a reminder to create an Intro Presentation about ourselves – who we are and what we do best. Through these presentations, we will be able to determine our project roles and split into groups by the next meeting.

Project Overview

People and industries all over the world are working diligently to keep up with the ever-progressing technology of our times. Journalism is not an exception. From written, to online, to virtual – Journalism is continuously being altered to fit formats that will present stories and reach audiences in the most effective ways possible.  Pursuing that quest, the Center for Sustainable Journalism at Kennesaw State University recently won a grant to support using new technology for innovative storytelling.

Kennesaw State University is one of the 2015-16 winners of the Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education.
Read more about the winners and the competition.

Our Project Title: Marginalized Youth Voices Amplified on Virtual Worlds
Read about our project and our proposal on our Project Overview page.

Our project uses the open source, OpenSimulator virtual world platform to tell stories of  individual youth in the Juvenile Justice System. Through the virtual world  and machinima viewing experience, the audience will actually be able to walk through each youth’s story: their life before the system, why they were put into the system, and images of what life is like in the system.  Partnered with the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange (, Twelve Kennesaw State University students from several majors and concentrations, along with professionals, technologists, and researchers, will bring light to the systemic abuses involved with the Georgia Juvenile Justice System.  The main goal of this project is to amplify the voices of marginalized youth with theinnovative technology of virtual worlds and machinima. Our main project goals are listed below.

  • Project Goals:
    – Amplify the voices of marginalized youth with innovative technology.
    – Broadcast their voices to audiences via mobile apps.
    – Allow the youth to participate in telling their life story.
    – Gather a collaborative, interdisciplinary cohort of students, professionals, technologists and researchers to create and broadcast an innovative, immersive form of journalism, while teaching each other new technology for storytelling.
    – Implement OpenSimulator virtual world platform software and Firestorm Viewer software, demonstrating their practicality for collaborative projects.
    – Build accessible apps.
    – Disseminate findings to universities and news entities.
    – Forge relationships on campus, advancing our teaching, research, service and long-term sustainability missions.

As we strive to reach these goals, we hope that you will continue to follow this front page blog to keep up with our progress on this influential project.  Also, be sure to explore this page to learn more about the project’s background.  On their personal blogs, each team intern shares their individual learning experiences ad isights.