Feature Medical education

Learning the second way

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39400.460139.941 (Published 29 November 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:1122
  1. Daniel Stott, medical student and freelance journalist
  1. St George's Medical School, University of London
  1. danielstott{at}hotmail.com

    Universities have been developing online learning facilities for doctors and medical students for many years. Now they are turning to the virtual world of Second Life, reports Daniel Stott

    Not many lecturers would appreciate their students flying into lecture theatres dressed as cybergoths, but since September Coventry University has begun to encourage such behaviour. The university is pioneering an MSc course in clinical management that holds problem based learning groups for students in Second Life, an online virtual world. The course trains students in managing healthcare facilities and is the first healthcare course to use Second Life as a learning platform.

    Second Life is an internet based application that uses three-dimensional graphics to represent an online environment. Users may register for free, adopt a character (known as an avatar) from an online menu, and then explore the virtual world of Second Life. Not only are avatars able to interact with each other through on-screen dialogue boxes—and more recently voice recognition—but they can also create new buildings and online facilities using Second Life's simple programming tools. Users are also able to create islands—online territories that are separate from the environment's “mainland” and can have restricted access through passwords.

    Other medical schools are beginning to follow Coventry's lead and are developing modules and courses using Second Life. St George's Medical School, part of the University of London, for example, is looking at …

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