From the desk of Adrianne E. Avillion, DEd, RN

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, August 19, 2011

Editor's note: This feature is written by nursing professional development expert Adrianne E. Avillion, DEd, RN. Each week, Adrianne writes about an important issue in the area of professional development or answers reader questions. If you have a question for Adrianne, e-mail her at

Virtual world education and nursing professional development

I had not given much thought to virtual world education until I attended an educational session during the July 2011 National Nursing Staff Development Organization (NNSDO) convention. Diana Halfer, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, explained how to get started with virtual world education using her own experiences at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago as practical examples. Halfer noted that an investment in virtual world education:

  • Shortens time for applying new knowledge
  • Removes physical distance barriers
  • Provides collaborative tools for learners
  • Offers a reusable format for repetitive practice and/or new objectives
  • Allows visualization of information in real-time with others
  • Offers a distinct, memorable experience
  • Reduces costs of learning where spatial context is important

I accessed some of the virtual learning websites Halfer referenced and found them to be intriguing and informative. Also, younger colleagues from generations Y and beyond expect learning to be not only informative but fun and technologically advanced as well.
Here are three resources for virtual learning that you might find helpful.

  • Second Life Virtual World ( A 3D world created and owned by residents. People or organizations can become residents by creating their own 3D persons (known as avatars). Avatars interact in ways that offer learners a sense of being present in a learning situation not available in other media.
  • Journal of Virtual Worlds Research ( This journal is an online, open access academic journal that "adheres to the highest standards of peer review and engages established and emerging scholars from anywhere in the world."
  • EmergingEdTech ( A website devoted to engaging students and enhancing learning outcomes with Internet and instructional technologies.

Halfer, D. (2011). "Virtual World education: Why bold leaders use it for healthcare learning." Friday, July 8, 2011, NNSDO annual convention, Chicago, Il.

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