The SLENZ Update – No 98, June 12, 2009

UIC_001

University of Illinois Global Campus entry point

Do SL public health training

applications really work?

US$1.6m to find the answer

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) School of Public Health have secured a grant of  US$1.6 million to fund a study to determine if collaborative virtual environments designed to improve public health preparedness and response planning really work.

The school which is relying more and more on virtual environments for training and education has received the grant from the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The results should be of interest to health educators worldwide  given the number of Second Life health applications, including New Zealand’s own midwifery pilot study under the auspices of the SLENZ Project and Auckland University’s Second Life and ONGENS  medical centres.

Under the programme, according to  Virtual World News,  UIC researchers will recruit 40 local health departments from across the United States to take part in the study.

Half the participants will use Second Life to train public health workers in emergency preparedness while the other half will use a traditional meeting approach to planning.

The study’s principal investigator Colleen Monahan, director of the Center for the Advancement of Distance Education at the UIC School of Public Health, said, “We believe that using virtual environments will improve collaboration across agencies and jurisdictions, raise awareness about planning for vulnerable populations, increase the realism in the training exercise, allow participants to participate in different scenarios, and allow emergency responders to return to the training exercise at their convenience for ongoing training.”

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