Children’s Memorial Hospital Chicago has demonstrated and documented a process that provides a viable component of real-world training: Second Life. In Case Study: Children’s Memorial Hospital Chicago Uses Second Life to Conduct Emergency Training the hospital’s report is summarized (and linked, for those who want to see the actual study). As Amanda Linden reports:
Training doctors, nurses, staff, administrators, and patient families at a hospital is a daunting task requiring real life context. That’s where Second Life comes in. A year ago, Children’s Memorial Hospital Chicago approached Centrax, a Chicago e-learning company and Second Life Solution Provider, to create a mirror image, or an exact replica, of their hospital so that they could train everyone through a variety of scenarios—all safely behind a computer. Within four hours, they had run a team—most had never been in Second Life—through the entire training exercise successfully.
Lest this be misunderstood: no one is suggesting that such training can completely replace real-life experience. Nevertheless, I saw something in this article strongly related to my own experience and contention of some years now: I don’t know exactly how it does it, but the virtual experience does an amazing job of making things “feel” real, e.g., actually being in the presence of another person. I was impressed by this quote from the report:
Kathleen Fortney, Centrax Director of Client Services, observed the training while sitting with the security participants, who were “very enthusiastic.” Fortney explained, “One of them, in describing the virtual ‘suspicious package,’ said there was a strange odor emitting from it. I interpreted this to mean…that the experience evoked prior knowledge, which is something that instructional designers strive to achieve in their designs.
If it can work like that for working professionals, it can likely provide useful educational experiences for college students.