Children’s Hospital Westmead Clinical School Newsletter – Second Life in Sydney Medical School

Childrens Hospital Westmead - Clinical School Newsletter

Nicholas Spooner is a final year medical student with an interest in surgery and background in engineering, who is currently studying Child and Adolescent Health. Nicholas and his supervisor, Professor Mohamed Khadra, have undertaken a pilot project to introduce virtual learning into the Sydney Medical Program through Second Life. Second Life is a virtual world consisting of simulated, life-like infrastructures that are designed and constructed in a virtual fashion. It is a world populated with avatars, or virtual representations of people, through which real-life users interact with others. Nicholas and Mohamed aim to use Second Life to enable students to acquire and practice new skills through interacting with surgical diseases in safe, confidential, realistic medical environments.

The pilot was funded by a Teaching and Innovations Grant from The University of Sydney. In the first phase Nicholas and Mohamed purchased space in Second Life and consulted with Second Life design technicians to construct a simulated University of Sydney teaching hospital. They constructed a virtual medical complex that is a fully equipped teaching centre with trauma bay, emergency room, surgical operating theatre and outpatient clinic. Sydney Medical School students who participated in the pilot project were able to complete a number of Problem Based Learning (PBL) cases and assess patient avatars. The students were enthusiastic about the possibility of virtual world teaching and eager for it to be incorporated into future curriculums. Nicholas and Mohamed will continue to develop the virtual hospital as an additional learning space for Sydney Medical School students.

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