Now that the virtual birth project is coming to a close, I am reflecting on where we go from here. The possibilities for midwifery, nursing and medical education are almost limitless because Second Life gives an amazing ability to provide immersive simulation of situations that cannot be easily practiced in the classroom or clinical setting.
I have heaps of ideas...the challenge will be finding teams that are willing to engage further with Second Life, and the funding to support development work.
Embedding the normal birth scenario
The first step is to embed the normal birth scenario into midwifery education and evaluate its effectiveness as a teaching tool. The SLENZ team has provided a wonderful free resource - now it is for midwifery educators to take it up and run with it by integrating it into their programs. This will require champions to lead this. I am not sure who will do this in New Zealand, but I know there is growing interest in other countries and I am sure midwifery educators will fly with this resource in educational institutions in the UK, Australia and USA.
Multi discipline collaboration
Another area that has huge potential is in the area of inter-disciplinary education. There is a growing interest in how we can improve communication and cooperation between disciplines, especially between medicine, nursing and midwifery, and I believe Second Life can work well in projects that encourage this sort of collaboration.
So one idea for a project is the transfer of women in labour from a birth unit to a secondary care facility, in situations where birth has deviated from the normal. Anyone interested?
Working with health consumers
Another area I would like to explore is how midwives can work with pregnant women and women interested in pregnancy and childbirth in Second Life. I have already broached the idea of students following women having a virtual pregnancy and birth. Midwives pride themselves on the way they work in partnership with women, so how can that be extended into Second Life and the design of learning experiences in SL?
What do you see as the future of Second Life in midwifery education...and the education of other health professionals?
Image: Second Life: National Health Service (UK) rosefirerising