Unit 1 Activity 3: Reflections on Weller 2002-2011: Second Life? Second Chance?

I read with great interest Chapter 14 about virtual worlds; specifically, about the history of Second Life in education.  I have a vague recollection of Second Life but learned much more reading this chapter. At the time that this was relevant in 2007 I was neither a student, education or early adopter of this virtual technology. My lesson from this concept was that with current 2020 technology and a renewed user interest in virtual and augmented reality games, (like Minecraft) aspects of the concepts of virtual worlds may see resurgence on a broader scale. As discussed by the author, it never really left in medical fields such as x-ray. Virtual reality (VR) in some form has been used for many years to run simulations before practicing on real patients. My program doesn’t have access to high fidelity x-ray simulation (yet), but this video shows a virtual x-ray being done through VR (https://virtualmedicalcoaching.com/) and it’s pretty accurate!  I am not endorsing this company specifically but only mentioning it as an example of available products.

This sort of VR technology is also my second lesson that conflicts with current practice. This technology is expensive to implement into a specialized health care field. Each specialty needs their own specific program; x-ray, ultrasound, medical laboratory, respiratory therapy just to name a few. Current practice is achieving entry level competency by practicing care and treatment of real people under supervision in a clinical environment. Simulation is not currently considered a replacement for clinical practice, only an augmentation.  With the current pandemic situation, some healthcare educators lost access to clinical experience completely and were left to scramble on how to reinvent an entire educational model.  The current situation requires virtual world type technology in healthcare or there will be a gap of medical professionals for years to come.

Also as pointed out in some informal conversations with some of my colleague we came to the consensus that pedagogy comes before technology. Before investing money into expensive VR technology, there must be detailed consideration on how the technology will support learning and not get distracted by the new shiny thing.



4 thoughts on “Unit 1 Activity 3: Reflections on Weller 2002-2011: Second Life? Second Chance?

  1. Shelley,

    I think it is a fascinating point you make about a gap in newly trained professionals due to our unpreparedness in technical education to deal with a pandemic that requires isolation and social distancing. It is a crucial lesson in terms of how we train, assess and prepare professionals such as frontline workers and other socially essential jobs like teachers. One of my closest friends is a Nursing professor, and her 4th-year nurses were ‘stuck’ not be able to finish their clinical practicums; all the while, the government pressuring nursing programs to ‘graduate’ their students because they are needed on the front lines. I wonder if VR or the like will venture to supplement in times of crisis? Interesting times, indeed!

  2. Hi Sandra
    At the risk of being cliché with “unprecedented times” not having access to clinical experience is something no one EVER considered (except for maybe 1 year after SARS). Just like the technologies we read about there was a huge pandemic amnesia by the decision makers.
    I was super lucky. My students graduated in August having not missed much clinical experience, but like your friend, depending on your geography, there is no access to hospitals or electives have been greatly reduced. I’ve learned of so many creative things colleagues are doing to try to replicate clinical, but it is indeed interesting times!

  3. The book, 25 years in Ed Tech, a number of times mentions that many people feel that the newest technology is just a reinvention of the previous technology. Like the television being thought of as radio with pictures.
    It’s neat that VR for you, Shelley in your field, can be more than just virtual lectures!

  4. I liked the analogy of the radio and TV as well Patrick! Very interesting theme of “All of this has happened before, and all of this will happen again.”

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