As if we don't have enough problems in the world to worry about, now we are facing a resurgence of bed bugs in our communities. And while people may not agree on the cause of their rise from obscurity, they do seem to agree we need to find ways to control their spread. Part of this includes educating people on how to avoid transferring bed bugs from one place to another. Public agencies are typically tasked with offering this information, and the EPA and CDC do offer some educational materials. But the challenge in offering these types of materials is getting the public to pay attention and actually read the information. That's why we are highlighting a recently released training tool developed by the National Extension Initiative. It was set up in the virtual world of Second Life by LuAnn Phillips, through her avatar Thynka Little, to teach people about the bed bug problem. The benefit of setting up this training in a 3D environment is it allows the eXtension to take advantage of a more engaged and interesting delivery system that might better hold someone's attention.
So today I braved the virtual hotel filled with bed bugs to bring you this summary of the eXtension's bed bug training module:
I first arrived outside a hotel where I was able to pick up a notecard from a nearby sign. The instructions said to stop inside at the front desk.
Once inside, the hotel clerk welcomed me to the hotel, told me to grab my luggage and take an elevator to room 101. Of course he neglected to warn me about the bed bug infestation. Good thing I was tipped off to be on the look out.
Here I am arriving at the floor where my room is located. If the signs in the hall weren't enough to caution me about the possibility of bed bugs, the large bed bug waiting for me at the end of the hall defnitely reminded me (the photo at the start of this story shows this bed bug welcome).
Here I am cautiously entering my hotel room. Looks nice enough but who knows what lurks behind the headboard.
After checking out the chair and other furniture in the room, I also looked behind the art work on the wall and all over the luggage rack to make sure no bugs were hiding there.
After deciding the room was clean, I relaxed and watched a few of the videos on the television in the room. These offered more advice along with what should be done if bed bugs are found in the home.
Before I left, I read the final message which offered some useful information including a website where you can find reports of bed bugs in hotel rooms across the U.S.: Bedbugreports.com and BedBugRegistry.com. Then I took the "teleport" back to the front desk to report my findings to the desk clerk. He gave me this t-shirt after I mentioned the secret code I had learned.
Fortunately it was the only thing I brought back with bed bugs on it. I guess there was supposed to be a little bug hidden somewhere in the room that I never found, but I chose not to even try going back to look for it – just didn't want to take a chance having bed bugs infest my virtual home.
Overall, I enjoyed the training as much as I could enjoy learning about a creepy little bug that wants to bite me and suck my blood. LuAnn and her organization have done a great job creating an interesting educational experience that other public agencies can take advantage of by offering it as a training option for their citizens.