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Keywords

Avatar, Content analysis, Nursing education, Second Life, Virtual reality

 

Authors

  1. BENHAM-HUTCHINS, MARGE PhD, RN
  2. LALL, MAUREEN P. MSN, RN, FNP-BC, COHN-S

Abstract

Although virtual reality platforms, such as Second Life, have been used in academic settings for more than a decade, little is known about how students perceive or adapt to this technology. This article presents the results of a research study that examined the experiences and perceptions of graduate nursing students as they explored the educational applications of Second Life. The students created avatars, interacted with one another in the virtual world, explored healthcare and educational uses, and maintained a reflective blog (online journal) of their experiences. Conventional content analysis was used to analyze the reflective blogs, and four themes were identified: (1) mastering Second Life, (2) technological challenges, (3) social interaction, and (4) knowledge dissemination. The results support the use of virtual reality in education, as even novice graduate students were able to overcome initial challenges and learn to navigate within a virtual world.