Collaborative Practice Through Simulations in a Multiuser Virtual Environment

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Content delivery and clinical education methods have been changing over the last decade in nearly all health professions.1 Nowhere is this more evident than in the clinical aspects of nursing education.2 Although nursing has a history of significant clinical experience in its educational programs, schools are increasingly faced with challenges related to limited clinical placement availability. Many schools of nursing are beginning to explore alternative means of providing a strong clinical component to their courses while maintaining high quality.3 Along with the use of clinical simulation in laboratories housed on campus, there has also been the adoption of the use of virtual environments as a potential platform for clinical simulation.2 The use of multiuser virtual environments (MUVEs) has garnered considerable attention by clinicians and educators and is beginning to grow in popularity and practicality for many professions.2,4 Among these MUVEs, Second Life (SL), created by Linden Lab (San Francisco, CA), has emerged as one of the most popular environments, with more than 15 million account-registered users and about 1 million active users (users who log in at least once per week).5 Using a basic free account, users are able to gain a sense of presence by creating a representation of themselves called an avatar. Using the avatar, they are able to interact with spaces, objects, and each other in a real-time environment.