After my previous post in which I suggested that a virtual environment like Second Life might be a good place to do nursing simulations, I have had to reconsider, on two bases: (1) I actually tried Second Life; and (2) I have been working in Elsevier's Virtual Clinical Excursions.
Second Life is not nearly as user-friendly as I had been led to believe by its popularity. I was expecting something that ran about as smoothly as the 1990s-era Marathon, but with a more manipulable character. It is not nearly at that level.
Elsevier's VCE, which I have been assigned in Nur360 Care of the Childbearing Family, is cumbersome, bug-prone, boring, and inefficient as a learning tool. I spent four hours on it last night, and I all I took away is the ability to identify the phases of Stage I pregnancy by their cervical dilation. I could have learned that in five minutes without all the crap! The CD runs slow as it occasionally has to load files while you are doing the excursions, and I was timed out inappropriately four times in a row after viewing a particular video!! At one point, there is a long process of virtual Fentanyl administration that taught me nothing, and there is a point in the workbook where the instructions take up half a page--half a page of "click on__", "Now select___". I absolutely hate it. It is definitely not an educational tool so much as a business model. Publishers like workbooks because workbooks cannot be re-sold in the used book market. Also, by transitioning ("evolve"--get it, duh!) to the web slowly with propriety programs integrated with websites, the publishers can help contribute to the illusion that information needs to be costly and protected in order to be useful and/or accurate. It's the opposite of what the Internet should be doing for information. It's a little like associating information with the occult, a mystery religion of secularism. A term? "Academic gnosticism"--the belief that universities hold special and privileged information.
So, sim-SimMan® is out, but free and open access textbooks are still in.