Virtual training – does this make Second Life useful?

I’ve always had a bit of a problem with Second Life. It’s not as easy to show how businesses can really derive value from it in the same way as you can with blogs, wikis and other Web 2.0 stuff. I know that companies such as IBM have created islands for virtual meetings but I’ve yet to hear someone say “without Second Life we would not have been able to achieve xyz business results” whereas there are plenty of hard and fast business metrics that have been achieved through the adoption of other Web 2.0 technologies (read Wikinomics or Naked Conversations if you don’t believe me).

However – back to the medicine theme – training seems to be the gateway to the Golden Age of Second Life. In the same Junior Doctor magazine that prompted my recent post on Medicine 2.0 there is a discussion on using Second Life for medical training. One such project is the Ann Myers Medical Center where doctors can be trained in initial examinations, and analysing MRIs, CRT and X-rays. The process can be collaborative, where groups of students work together on a simulation with a mentor. As well as this project, medical libraries exist (such as the Medical Island on Health Info Island) and areas of speciality for cardiology, neurology and genetics. The advantages for students in areas where the latest technologies or latest techniques could be vast.

Personally, I think it is these practical subjects, such as medicine, construction, architecture etc. where virtual worlds add significant value. An IBM meeting can be accomplished quite easily using conference call and screen sharing technologies – where there is something physical that groups of people need to work on together provides an environment for Second Life to offer significant advantages.

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