Virtual Interns

This morning I was at the sports therapist for a running injury. My doctor had a fourth year medical student working with him. The student was learning the ropes hands on, participating in the small talk, listening as the doctor explained each step of the exam, his initial prognosis and the treatment plan. The medical student was very pleasant, and I think he’ll do well interacting with patients. But, what if I wasn’t real, at least not in the traditional sense, and suppose the doctor, the small talk and the exam all occurred virtually? What might the medical student learn about patient care?

I think he could learn a lot, and so does the Imperial College in London. The school has been utilizing Second Life as a tool to teach third year medical students. A simulated game-based approach to learning can provide something a lecture room can’t – experience. The students are acting as doctors in a full-service virtual hospital. They are interacting with patients, performing exams, making diagnosis and learning to follow appropriate procedures. The virtual experience mimics live interaction, and while students are dinged for things like, not following proper hand washing procedures, a real patient can not be injured in the process. By using Second Life students learn from mistakes in a safe environment. Since it is interactive, they can also develop communication skills with virtual patients, allowing them to polish their bedside manner before they step foot into a real examination room.

The program is not going to exempt students in any way from their “live” training, however it is certainly good practice. CNN covered this story, in the article, Can Second Life help teach doctors to treat patients? You know my answer, what’s yours?

*Jeremy Bradley, Can Second Life help teach doctors to treat patients? , CNN, (March 30, 2009)

Education in Second Life

I came across this Second Life blog post today. There is an education conference happening in Second Life this week! I’m really inerested in hearing what others have done with Second Life as I think it’s got lots of potential for training as it offers a great platform for simulations and practice sessions.

If you’re not familiar with Second Life, it’s a virtual world where you can create just about anything using 3D modeling. I’ve seen everything from a replicated Egyptian temple to an office conference room. Several “real world” colleges are already using Second Life, as well as news organizations like CNN.

I’ve not had a chance to attend the conference, but I discovered that they’ve actually saved several of the presentations. I know it’s a little late, but check out the blog and the wiki with the taped sessions.Even if you’ve never spent any time in Second Life, this is a good way to learn how others are using the world to benefit their learners.

Second Life as a training tool – my thoughts

Our intern John posted a couple days ago to talk about Second Life. He described his growing love affair with it and teased you with the idea that it could be a training tool. However, he didn’t offer any specifics on HOW you might use it as a learning tool. I agree with John.  Second Life does have HUGE potential for training  – s well as some downsides. We discuss one company who has leveraged it very successfully in our white paper, The Learning Potential of Web 2.0 Applications. This company has found a big upside to using Second Life as a learning tool.

Brian Regan, CEO of Semper International – which is based in Boston, uses his Second Life office space  to host training classes, conduct meetings, or to meet with employees for performance discussions. He can be in Boston and have two staff members located on the West Coast who virtually join him at the Second Life office to practice interviewing skills and receiving coaching on these skills. The cost of doing so is a tiny fraction of what it would cost him to do things face-to-face. Regan chose Second Life as a training tool for his recruitment business because it’s the largest virtual world commercially available to him, and it has the most digital assets already available for purchase. Regan doesn’t have to invest resources in building anything because he can buy or rent whatever he needs. His interviewing skills class can be done for extremely low cost.

Anders Grondstedt is a big Second Life advocate, and he’s shown some intrigueing ideas in his weekly forums within Second Life.  Example: a teaching hospital built in Second Life that enables medical personnel to practice skills in a simulated world as opposed to a real one (where peopel can get hurt if you screw up).

However, just to play Devil’s Advocate with myself, I have to argue that while those examples are great, it doesn’t mean we all should be running out to Second Life and hosting learning sessions within it. it  doesn’t make sense to simply use Second Life as a new way to do something that’s better the old way. As Karyn Romeis says in her learning blog, “I see no point in using this new wineskin for old wine. Why use SL to deliver a traditional classroom-based, teacher-led, chalk-and-talk session?” I concur with Karyn. The worst thing you can do in Second Life is try to mimic what you are used to doing in a live meeting – i.e. getting everyone in a room and simply killing them with PowerPoint slides.”

Karyn also points out a well-kept secret about Second Life. It requires LOTS of computing power for you to participate in it. The typical office computer – or consumer computer – won’t do it. You need a gaming-style computer or one designed for some high-power computing. In other words, you need significant RAM AND a dedicated graphics card. If you try to navigate Second Life with an integrated graphics card (which most computers have as a way to keep their price point cheaper), you’ll find things loading very slowly or your computer repeatedly crashing.

I intend to watch the evolution of Second Life very carefully. It’s NOT a game; it’s a platform and it requires time to learn how to use it. You can build things within it that enable you to do some very cool things, but there can be a steep learning curve to getting comfortable navigating within the World and building things within the World. Time – as always – is the best predictor of whether or not Second Life will prove to be a great learning tool or simply a lot of hype. As we watch and wait, we also play. We’ve got office space in Second Life, and we periodically go in and host meetings, upload files, build things…and just learn!

Feel free to visit our space in Second Life at

If you are doing training/learning activities in Second Life tell us what they are – and how it’s working.

Is it new to you? – Second Life

I would like to start off by saying that I am a huge fan of Second Life.  If you don’t have a Second Life account I want you to go get one now.

It is free and a lot of fun.  I was privileged to get experience working in Second Life on BLP’s office.  It was an experience that I really enjoyed and I found myself exploring and hanging out on Second Life more and more.  I hope that I can convert some people who think its just a game or that it serves no real purpose because I can tell you that it in fact has helped me connect with many people from different campuses in the US who I would have never met outside of my Second Life experience.

When I talk to people about Second Life I usually get some puzzled looks and a lot of questions.  What is Second Life?  Is that a game?  Who would play Second Life?  Well in my opinion, those questions are easy to answer.  Second Life is a tool that can be used for any purpose.  It is completely user generated so you get to create the experience you want to have in Second Life.  One of the coolest places that I discovered while adventuring through Second Life was a Haunted House.  I have been involved Haunted Houses for years and I would consider working in one of them a hobby that I enjoy each October.  I was amazed by the amount of detail that was put into something and it really turned me onto the belief that anything can be created in Second Life.

It is a great tool and I want to encourage more people to give it a try.  Come find me hanging out at the BLP office space and I would love to give you a tour of Second Life.  Traveling is easy just create an Avatar and and login to Second Life you can use the links below to visit a cool Haunted House and BLP’s office!!!  Make sure you look me up on Second Life my name is Carney Whybrow!

Bentham Manor Haunted House: