Looking good sister! The use of a virtual world to develop nursing skills

Pauletta Irwin, Rosanne Coutts, Iain Graham

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperConference paperpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


When developing contemporary nursing curricula the challenge is how to offer students a variety of authentic learning opportunities. Indeed, there is a generally held concern that the tertiary sector finds difficulty in achieving consistent, high quality opportunities for experiential learning. Additionally, these opportunities are often expensive and logistically problematic. A number of disciplines in higher education are opting for the use of contemporary software approaches that serve as valuable adjuncts for the delivery of learning content. This satisfies the students of today who demand experiences that are instantly gratifying, engaging and flexible. Nevertheless and contrastingly, the profession of nursing remains at its core a hands-on profession. Second Life is a three dimensional virtual world, that, due to its ability to promote collaborative, synchronous and immersive learning has been described as a rich social environment. Making decisions about how much technology should be included in the curriculum and at what point in the learner’s journey it should be introduced presents a challenge to nurse educators. This research utilised a created nursing environment in Second Life where activities were embedded within three undergraduate nursing courses. All participating academics, and students were required to create their own avatar. Following the task, semi structured interviews were conducted, transcribed, coded and thematically analysed. The perspectives of practicing Registered Nurses and nursing academics and their students are presented. Observations, field notes and examination of relevant artefacts were also cyclically reviewed and incorporated. Findings from this research relate to the action of avatar creation within a pedagogical experience. It was established that offline characteristics influence a willingness to invest time and creativity when developing an online persona. Evidence of impression management was clear during customisation of the appearance and capabilities of the avatar. The findings suggest that there is relevance and transferability following participation in virtual world nursing experiences. Future investigation could focus on which students are best suited to learning this way and also what level of learning is actually achieved when in the role of a personalised ‘ideal self avatar’.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIntersections in Simulation and Gaming
Subtitle of host publicationDisruption and Balance - 3rd Australasian Simulation Congress, ASC 2019, Proceedings
EditorsAnjum Naweed, Lorelle Bowditch, Cyle Sprick
PublisherSpringer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)9789813295810
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Event3rd Australasian Simulation Congress, ASC 2019 - Gold Coast, Australia
Duration: 02 Sep 201905 Sep 2019

Publication series

NameCommunications in Computer and Information Science
ISSN (Print)1865-0929
ISSN (Electronic)1865-0937


Conference3rd Australasian Simulation Congress, ASC 2019
CityGold Coast


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