Thursday, March 25, 2010

Week 11: Alternate Reality Learning: Massive Gaming, Virtual Reality, and Simulations

Week 11: March 22, 2010

This week was my week to moderate. I chose this week because of the simulation / virtual reality concepts. Simulation has become a key component to learning in nursing education. While the simulations are more so in a lab face to face, I am intrigued with Second Life and how simulation could be used online for nursing education.

One of the articles I read was Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown (2009, January). Why Virtual Worlds Matter. International Journal of Media and Learning, Vol. 1(1).

This article describes massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs) as a sense of “being with others” and being able to share space, communicate and act in the shared space of a virtual world sense of “being there” with others. These types of games motivate players to think about life (situations) online in the form of an avatar (that the student / player creates) which provides an opportunity to truly engage in the “play of imagination”. The virtual online community that the article discusses is Second Life.

Virtual worlds require thinking about knowing, rather than knowledge (“knowledge in action”). Because the world in which the game happens is constantly in a state of flux, players are forced to continually adapt to changes. The goal is to think beyond the game and look to the ways in which virtual worlds combine the power of play (and situated learning) and the depth of experience that results from the game’s connection to everyday life.

The article discusses a concept called “learning inversion” in which a phase of learning about virtual worlds provide the opportunity for participants to be both/and: both inside and outside, both player and avatar, both character and person.

The article concludes that the kinds of engagement that players have with the game and with the social life around the game, suggest that the relationship players may have with new learning environments may be much deeper and much richer than current learning theories. The goal is to move beyond situated learning toward an understanding of these game spaces which focuses on the ways in which players construct not only a shared discourse and culture, but actually engage in the a feeling of what the article calls a “networked imagination.”

Another article that was interesting was: Teresa Coffman, Mary Beth Klinger (2007). Utilizing Virtual Worlds in Education: The Implications for Practice, International Journal of Social Sciences, Volume 2 Number 1. Retrieved August 18, 2008, from

This article specifically discusses Second Life ( ) which is a 3-D Multi User Virtual Environment (MUVE) that has grown to more than a million residents since its inception in 2003. Second Life is a world created solely by its residents. Within the virtual world are advertisers marketing to residents to buy products and services in the real-world. There are colleges and universities creating environments within the virtual world, such as Dartmouth College who created a 3D virtual island in Second Life to train community emergency response teams to handle real life emergencies by experiencing emergencies in a 3D environment.

In an educational context, the article discusses Second Life as having potential to provide rich and engaging learning experiences for students with peers as well as with other students and educators across the world. The Second Life learning environments allows students to immerse themselves in content that can potentially provide lessons learned within the virtual environment back into their real-lives, thereby creating meaning with the content to connect with concepts being taught in a classroom. This could be the ultimate critical thinking experience for students.

A virtual Second Life Demo specifically for nursing via You Tube is:

Other interesting Virtual Reality / Simulation links:

Virtual Reality Surgery Simulator Hones Surgeons' Skills, Improves Patient Safety:

Nursing / Healthcare Simulation Manikins by Laerdal; watch 2 video clips on this page (Sim Man 3 G):

Virtual Autopsy Table:

I am a Simulation Scholar for IU School of Nursing but certainly have much more to learn about moving simulation to the online environment.


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