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Second Life Educational Resources

Page history last edited by Lynda_Cannedy 9 years, 11 months ago

 

FrontPage

 

Is Second Life currently being used as an educational tool? At least three areas of use demand meaningful consideration.

Second Life for Medical Professionals, Health Librarians, and Educators 

The virtual world is full of many online communities such as Twitter, Face Book, YouTube, Second Life and many others.  Only a short time ago, many of us had never heard of the online community Second Life. Today, we are experiencing Second Life first hand while exploring its educational opportunities and studies done using it as a resource.  The definition for a community as explained by Merriam-Webster online dictionary is “an interacting population of various kinds of individuals (as species) in a common location.”  In this definition we can see that people get together in a common place such as in Second Life to share ideas.  The definition for Second Life is introducing a virtual world simulating the true environment typically visited by everyday health professional (Boulos et al.  p 233).  As an educator I am constantly looking for ways to make my teaching not only relevant but also up to par with today’s technologies.  The article by Boulos et al., informs us that a new type of teaching is going on using Second Life.  In this article the authors introduce three-dimensional virtual worlds for multiple educational settings such as medical, libraries and educators (Boulos, pg. 233). 

 

Medical Professionals

Only two years ago, my wife had a health issue that required an operation.  While sitting in the waiting room all I could think of is “How could I help her or how could I understand more of this health issue?”  Today, I can see how resources such as Second Life can give people searching for educational health answers an idea of what is taking place in the operating room.   For example, in the article “Second Life: an overview of the potential of 3-D virtual worlds in medical and health education, “ the authors explain that high definition avatars can help potential doctors be part of an operating room procedure without being there (Boulos, pg. 235).  This not only helps the potential doctor but helps the health institutions introduce operating procedures in a more realistic manner.  Another important point of this type of teaching and learning is that any student can watch the procedures regardless of the time, place, and physical constraints of having so many people at one location.  Being a very traditional educator, considering Second Life as an educational resource has been difficult for me.  I understand that technology is here to help us and make our lives easier but, in my experience of presenting in multiple locations, I feel personal face-to-face interaction is extremely important.  This is why having students not be physically present at the location is hard for me to understand and accept. 

 

Health Librarians

One of the biggest struggles our campus librarian faces every day is teaching students to use the library’s resources.  One of the best resources found for our library is the internet.  Unfortunately, very few students use all the resources even when she has multiple lessons on how to use these resources.  The article by Boulos et al., also shows how Second Life can help multiple educational scenarios.  One example found in this article is the use of Second Life as an Educational Health Library resource.  By having people who have health issues visit this website it is similar to visiting a doctor, however they can do it from home and see some of the common health issues such as breast cancer.  In Second Life, patients are allowed to visit a Breast Cancer Awareness Center.  Having this type of information being presented in a 3-D format can help patients better understand the procedures in the prevention of this type of cancer.   In this article we are also informed that many people have a very cold perception of medical institutions.  In Second Life a virtual world is created in which patients find themselves looking at health buildings that appear as comfortable as homes.  By doing this, the authors hope that people will feel more comfortable and will step into those buildings to interact with the information provided for them.   As we can see, not only is Second Life helping with health information but also helping people change their perspective to common issues such as visiting a health environment. 

 

Educators 

A common issue many business and academic educators face is finding new and exciting ways to help our learners.  A clear example of this is how Second Life is helping people to get educated on their health issues.  In the article Virtual Libraries on a Budget: Case Studies, the authors inform us that a group of librarians looking to facilitate the online library experience use Second Life to attack this challenge.   In this article we are informed that Virtual Libraries (VL) are needed due to the current budgets libraries are facing (Dalston & Pullin, 2008, pg. 30).  In order for libraries to compete with current technology trends such as online forums, multiple interactive websites, and others, Virtual Libraries need to be as interesting and realistic as possible.  The article also informs us that creating a virtual world to enhance education for learning-disabled students such as deaf students in hearing environments is just as important (Dalston & Pullin, pg. 31).  By having students be exposed to multiple technologies, students have a higher possibility of success in regular classroom environments. 

 

Conclusion 

By doing all we can to be up to date with the common technology trends will we be able to help the digital natives that fill the classrooms today.  Teachers need to try many teaching methods, as this is a way to accommodate the different learning preferences of our students.  Technology will continue to change and we must evolve with it or we will become obsolete in a short time.  Another important reason to be up to date in our technology skills and teaching skills is due to our state's long range technology plan known as TEA Long-Range Technology Plan 2006-2020.  Technology teaching is not only important for our personal growth but also a requirement by our state.  As seen in the above examples of surgeon training and medical simulations, virtual libraries for health and virtual libraries for general educators, Second Life is a strong candidate to advance our teaching experiences.  Only by having more exposure to this type of technology will we understand it to a higher degree and, in turn, help our students succeed.

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