Maegan M. Paxton Willing, Research Psychologist, Center for Deployment Psychology, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences; Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine, Inc.
Maegan M. Paxton-Willing
Asynchronous avatar-based learning environments have long been used to augment traditional learning methodologies. In recent years, these environments have begun providing continuing education opportunities for healthcare providers. The Center for Deployment Psychology has been at the forefront this movement by developing three asynchronous learning environments in Second Life: the PTSD Learning Center, the Snoozeum, and the Second Life Island for Preventing Suicide (SLIPS).
The Snoozeum is a virtual museum focused on sleep disorders related to military deployment as well as their assessment and treatment. The Virtual PTSD Learning Center provides an overview on the diagnosis, assessment, and treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder. Visitors can play “Operation Avatar,” a first-person game that follows a service member experiencing PTSD through daily activities, treatment, and the traumatic event. SLIPS allows behavioral health providers to apply the primary skills involved in cognitive behavioral therapy for suicide prevention through avatar-based case studies and a virtual firing range to teach firearm safety. We will discuss the lessons learned through developing these environments and provide strategies for future asynchronous, avatar-based learning environments for healthcare providers. Additionally, we will discuss recommendations for increasing engagement with the learning environment.
We anticipate attendees taking away significant knowledge gains related to the development and building of avatar-based learning environments. Although this will be of most relevance to attendees intending to develop health professions educational materials, we believe the lessons learned and recommendations are applicable for a broader audience. Attendees will benefit from learning effective and ineffective strategies for conceptualizing and developing learning environments as well as recommendations for marketing and increasing engagement.