Collaboration, Deep Thoughts, Education in Virtual Worlds, Identity and Expression, Second Life, Uncategorized

Midwifery and Counselling Gain Traction in Virtual Worlds: Media Reports

Scoop, an independent news outlet in New Zealand, reports on the introduction of virtual education to Otago Polytechnic’s midwifery programme. First, second and third-year students will visit the government-funded SLENZ island on SL to supplement their real world learning. One of the advantages to this is that it enables students to build their education within their own community, enhancing their connection to the people they may eventually service as midwives.

“They are supported by a midwife from their area who provides face-to-face tutoring and support,” said Dr. Deborah Davis, the school’s principal lecturer. The students will still travel to the polytechnic for “intensives” where they “focus on skills and other learning that is more suited to face-to-face” teaching.

The SL module provides different benefits for second-year students.

“We hope that the virtual birth centre will provide them with an immersive experience and one in which they start to feel the sense of responsibility and accountability that comes with being a registered midwife,” said Dr. Davis.

Scientific American on Counseling
And over at Scientific American, Karen Frenkel wrote in April about the feasibility of in-world counseling in dealing with problem cases. She writes about one patient, Joe, from Camden, New Jersey, who enters the Kids In Transition program but who, because of his confrontational nature and his ADHD, is having difficulties with face-to-face counseling. Enter SECTER, or Simulated Environment for Counseling, Training, Evaluation, and Rehabilitation, created by Palo Alto, Calif.-based Greenleaf Medical in collaboration with Forterra Inc. SECTER is a “computer-based approach for treating teen behavioral disorders using a multiplayer immersive environment,” according to the Forterra site, and is a customized version of Forterra’s OLIVE virtual world software that uses both VOIP and text chat.

In Joe’s case, therapist Heather Foley was able to make Joe open up by allowing Joe to communicate through his avatar. For eight weeks, Joe and Heather met online, with Heather role-playing his adoptive mom.

“I made the virtual mom avatar chase Joe’s avatar everywhere so Joe would realize he couldn’t find a way out of a conversation,” said Foley to SA.

But because of a feature in SECTER called “after action review,” Joe was able to look in on himself after the last session. “I looked ridiculous because of how I acted,” he admitted to SA.

Some therapists are doubtful about treatment in virtual worlds, but not John Suler, a professor of psychology at Rider University in New Jersey, who told SA that virtual therapy “will get more sophisticated and complex. Computers allow ways to take apart or recombine various ways of communicating—speaking, text, auditory, realistically based or imaginatively contrived.”

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.