Monday, March 30, 2009

Could Second Life enhance your training program?

On the front page of CNN’s Tech section today is an intriguing new story on how medical students at Imperial College in London are effectively using Second Life for learning.

Using a virtual hospital in Second Life, third-year medical students are receiving “hands-on” experience in what they’ll later be doing in their medical careers including visiting patients, ordering X-rays, consulting with colleagues and making diagnoses.

From the CNN article:

It's an interactive, hands-on learning experience -- and none of it is real.

These prospective doctors are treating virtual patients in Second Life, the Internet world where users interact through online alter egos called avatars. The third-year med students are taking part in a pilot program for game-based learning, which educators believe can be a stimulating change from lectures and textbooks.

"The aim is to develop a more engaging learning environment, rather than just replicate what you have in real life," said Maria Toro-Troconis, a senior learning technologist at Imperial College London. "Game-based learning plays a very important role."

The students’ classroom training is reinforced in Second Life down to the simplest lessons like washing your hands. If students forget to wash their hands before visiting with a patient, the program limits the student from going any farther.

Back in the U.S., companies including Sun Microsystems and IBM have established their own real estate in Second Life to give employees the opportunity to connect on a different level.

Sun Microsystems, a company that has been on Second Life since 2006, owns a variety of property that the company uses for different reasons. Some of their Second Life property is open to the general public and other areas are used specifically for employee training and corporate meetings.

IBM has also been using Second Life and other virtual communities to hold company meetings, conduct online employee training and carry out orientation sessions.

The opportunities for employee training in Second Life and in similar online venues seem endless. Especially with many organizations looking to cut training costs, we may start seeing more companies adopt online training as a cheaper option to traditional methods.

If Second Life can help doctors learn how to treat patients, certainly it can help other organizations train employees in areas like customer service and safety. Whatever your situation, online training has the potential to take your program to the next level.

Have you ever been a part of training or another corporate activity that was held using a virtual platform like Second Life? Do you think there are any added benefits to virtual employee training as opposed to traditional methods?

No comments:

Brought to you by