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Enhancing interprofessional education through embodiment in the virtual world Second Life

Messer, Simon


Simon Messer
Occasional Associate Lecturer - HAS - AHP


Interprofessional learning at UWE is delivered in all healthcare programmes across all three undergraduate years. A range of pedagogical approaches are utilised, including one module that is delivered online, using problem based learning (PBL).

This project aims to enhance the online PBL experience through interaction with scenarios in the virtual world Second Life (SL). Research has considered learning in virtual worlds in terms of social constructivism where learners collaborate to seek out information and build knowledge – concepts which support the principles of PBL.

This paper describes a method for creating Interprofessional problem-based healthcare scenarios in SL that are highly interactive and multi-layered. Issues of design, scenario development and scalability are considered along with processes for student/tutor orientation in SL. Whilst students are encouraged to explore the scenario asynchronously, the PBL process is tutor facilitated and managed through the use of structured discussion boards as well as in-world synchronous meetings. The assessment strategy includes a reflective weblog, peer assessment and a written report.

Evaluation of this project is favourable with the majority of students indicating that the SL scenario helped contextualise the problem and enhance their Interprofessional learning. Working in SL is also reported to have improved the online learning experience by simulating some of the perceived advantages of face-to-face education through a sense of embodiment. Some students and staff reported misgivings about conducting learning in a perceived “gaming” environment and a number of technological issues were identified.

3D virtual worlds have significant potential for education and provide congruence for strategic educational moves towards more personalised learning and learner autonomy. PBL is a proven strategy for delivering interprofessional education and this study shows that integration with an interactive scenario in SL provides an enhanced educational experience through embodiment and contextualisation of subject matter.


Messer, S. (2010, April). Enhancing interprofessional education through embodiment in the virtual world Second Life. Paper presented at NETNEP 2010 3rd International Nurse Education Conference

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name NETNEP 2010 3rd International Nurse Education Conference
Start Date Apr 11, 2010
End Date Apr 14, 2010
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords interprofessional education, virtual worlds, Second Life
Additional Information Corporate Creators : N/A