Healthcare Communication Class in Second Life

Last week I was privileged to present and converse in Second Life with a very dynamic and engaging class on healthcare communications in new media. The class was from The College of New Jersey and was studying Internet-based health communications. Their professor, Dr. Yifeng Hu, holds many of the class sessions in Second Life in order to maximise access to guest lecturers, engage with health care communities there, and other functions. She’s done this for several terms now, and this term I was the first guest lecturer for this class. I was asked to talk both about Second Life healthcare and health in social media, with the conversation focusing mostly on SL and Twitter and a bit on other social media tools or platforms.

The format of the class was to assemble, brief intro, and then Q&A. I pulled out an old presentation on healthcare social media that I had handy. Showed a few slides, just to give an idea of the range of the topic, and then opened it up for questions. And WHAT questions!!! I was so impressed and excited, I asked permission to share them here.

Healthcare Communication Class in SL

[12:58] You mentioned that your friend is developing rehabilitation services in SL for patients suffering from traumatic brain injuries in RL. Has he discovered any significant changes in fine motor skills with the assistance of SL?

[13:00] You had mentioned that a disaster simulation is used in SL. Can you go into more detail about it, who uses it, and how it may have benefitted users of it

[13:01] With the autism communities in SL, do you prefer the SL autism communities over RL autism communities and support groups?

[13:06] Similar to the disaster stimulation and training what other types of medical training that happens in SL?

[13:07] Has there been real world success from the autistic social interactions in second life? Or as second life provided mechanisms for real life communication by usisng skills gained in second life?

[13:07] I certainly do recognize the benefits that SL has offered the autistic community, however what would you say are the disadvantages of focusing on SL? Do you think it hinders their ability to integrate with others in RL?

[13:07] In the autism communities in SL what exactly do you do there? Are you a speaker there or does it mostly provide new information/research for you?

[13:10] SL has a big impact on those who are afflicted by severe illnesses in RL. However, is SL also helping spread awareness about these diseases to those that are uninformed?

[13:12] You mentioned that your son suffers from autism. Does he participate in the autism communities in SL or is he too young?

[13:13] Why do you think the interest for SL is increasing between the ages of 10-20? and in what ways is this target group using SL?

[13:14] When users are on second life for non-health related reasons, is there any way that second life is used to spark interest in one’s own health?

[13:15] Are all the services/support groups available on this grid available on the teen grid as well? If so, are they altered to accomodate that age group?

[13:21] The american cancer society has a location here on SL. in what ways do they help patients/survivors/and families coping here on SL?

[13:22] In the coming decades, how do you think SL will continue to improve the lives of patients in the online realm

[13:24] My girlfriend teaches children with special needs, which group or website would you highly recommend her to be involved with?

[13:29] Is there any way to assess the real life social development skills of a SL participant who has autism?

[13:31] Do you hold counseling for the people who have autistic family members?

[13:32] How does youtube and SL work together? in what way do they work together? like twitter has the autism speakers on the one day you spoke of..

[13:32] You mentioned surgery in SL. Do you think in the future they’ll be doing surgerys through types of virtual worlds?

[13:35] How do the dentists use the haptics?

I don’t know about the students, but I was very excited by their enthusiasm, perception, curiosity and engagement. Not to mention vision. Wow! Any one of these questions could generate a week’s worth of blogposts. Some of the questions came from mishearing or misunderstanding something else I said, but often those “oops” turned into valuable conversations on their own. The discussion was rich and broad, both, and we covered a lot of fertile ground in just an hour and a half. I felt it was quite well spent. Yes, you can do things like this in real life, and this really wasn’t that different, but it was nice that I was in Michigan and they were in New Jersey and no travel was involved. I’m not sure, but I think that some of the students were also logging in remotely, which is also handy. I loved that the platform supported such a rich dialog with students who were still new enough in SL to be learning how to teleport and use the map. How powerful!


5 responses to “Healthcare Communication Class in Second Life

  1. Wow, what a set of questions, and as you point out, generated by folks just starting the SL learning curve.

    To top it off, I learned of your post about social media from Google’s new Buzz. This stuff has really reached a tipping point…or is it just me 🙂


  2. Ashley Geiselman

    I was very excited to attend this second life presentation, because the topic sounded very interesting to me. After attending this presentation on Health Care and Second Life, I am even more interested in this topic. Some of the things that I learned happen on second life are, clinical training, numerous support groups, and disaster relief training. Besides second life, I learned about other forms of social media and health care, including twitter. This topic is really intriguing to me, because I find health care to be a very important and interesting topic. My eyes were opened to the fact that many people use second life, as a form of support when dealing with a disease. It gave the use of second life a whole other meaning that did not even cross my mind before. I feel that integrating second life into more health care fields will allow more people to be reached and affected. Second Life and other virtual worlds should definitely be studied more and used more often in the future. I think that the benefits are endless.
    The speaker really touched me, when she gave real life stories. For example, she talked about her friend who suffers from agoraphobia. This woman can now interact and meet people without feeling uncomfortable or have a panic attack. Another example involved her son. Her son suffers from autism, and he now uses twitter to reach out. The presenter explained how much twitter has helped her son, and how comfortable he feels using it. It was touching to hear how much these technologies helped not only her son, but also gave her relief as a mother. From listening to the presenter, I now believe that more attention and energy should be brought on integrating health care, new technologies and everyday life.


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