This chapter focuses specifically on the use of three-dimensional multi-user virtual environments (3D MUVEs) for simulation-based teaching and learning in tertiary-level healthcare education. It draws on a broad range of extant research conducted over the past three decades, synthesizing this with newer developments and examples that have emerged since the advent and proliferation of the “3D Web.” The chapter adopts and advocates a research-informed approach to surveying and examining current initiatives and future directions, backed by relevant literature in the areas of online learning, constructivist learning theory, and simulations. Both opportunities and challenges are discussed, with the aim of making a contribution to the development of best practice in the field.
This study explored the value of Second Life as a clinical simulation platform for healthcare students. Participants were exposed to the Critical Life simulation and worked in teams within the simulation. Pre- and post-surveys and interviews were used to gauge responses to participation, level of use of online tools and gaming, and input about the experience of using the simulation. The main findings from the study were that participants had positive and realistic experiences using Critical Life as a collaborative learning tool; participants agreed that Critical Life would assist them in developing technical and non-technical skills; participants were not deterred by the technology and perceived they would use it in their own time; and participants agreed that the simulation was able to incorporate effective learning strategies that may improve clinical judgment. Interviews revealed that the participants enjoyed working in virtual teams suggesting that in healthcare education, virtual simulations have potential for use across multiple campuses and universities