The online virtual world, Second Life, developed by US-based Linden Lab has long been thought of a curiosity. Not quite a game but not not quite a pure social network, either. It is a space where it can be a bit of everything: part simulation, part learning environment (with over 100 educational regions) and even a place where virtual embassies from countries like the Maldives can exist.
Second Life even has its own currency, Linden Dollars, and a fully-fledged virtual economy where users can make money from doing activities. Users can exchange Linden Dollars for bitcoins and other alternative currencies on third party exchanges.
Given the disruptive nature of Second Life, it is perhaps a little unsurprising to learn that a US medical school, The University of Michigan School of Nursing, has created a virtual clinic to help its students learn effective communication skills. Users can use anonymous virtual versions of themselves in scenarios, enabling shier students to participate more.
Michelle Aebersold, from UMSN, who helped create the virtual clinic, said: “If you want to teach nursing students how to delegate, how to practice their leadership skills, how to respond to an emergency situation and direct their team members, it’s a great learning environment.”
UMSN’s innovate use of Second Life is a great example of using innovative technologies to teach online.