Yifeng Hu, a friend that I met in Second Life, invited me this week to pay a visit to her College of New Jersey’s New Media and Health Communications course (Comm345). But I didn’t have to fly to New Jersey to meet with Yifeng’s students, I just had to fire up my computer and teleport to her virtual world classroom. That’s me, in the photo above, looking out a the group of eager and virtual faces.
In advance of my visit, Yifeng had given them access to a Journal of Medical Internet Research article that I co-authored (with my colleague John Wiecha) about a continuing medical education (CME) pilot that we had recently run in the virtual world (involving role play with standardized patients). She hoped that I could talk with her students about our experiences conducting CME in-world, describe a few of our future projects, and answer their questions.
I was very impressed with the students questions…
Did the doctors know each other before the session?
Does role play work just as well in SL compared to reality?
How do you monitor the real life success of those in SL?
Do you think it’s important to couple SL interactions with real world interactions?
They were thoughtful, pertinent, and right on the money. Like a hot knife through butter, these undergraduate students got right to the meaty challenges that my colleagues and I have been struggling with as we attempt to design effective and impactful learning experiences for busy physicians.
After I attempted to answer their questions, I asked them a few. Specifically, I wanted to know what advice they had for me to help acclimatize people, new to virtual worlds, and help them be succesful. Here’s what they told me:
People have trouble knowing where they are, help them get oriented.
Set a home location so you don’t get lost.
Figure out how navigate to specific places using a map.
Give them time to get used to SL before doing anything formal.
Have someone around to help you right then and there.
Excellent advice. Thank you, Comm 345.