Students at Georgian College’s Orillia Campus are tackling complex issues that can’t easily be replicated in the classroom thanks to the online 3D world Second Life. Using advanced gaming technology, they’ve adopted life-like avatars – graphic representations of themselves – and are collaborating on real-world professional scenarios.
The Second Life campus houses a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder resource centre, a conference centre, counselling labs, meeting spaces and more. Currently, Child and Youth Worker students are using the virtual campus to practice therapeutic interventions and hone their counselling skills.
“Georgian’s virtual campus allows students to work through some of the more difficult scenarios they may face in the workplace in a safe, non-threatening environment, ” says program co-ordinator Dr. Howard Bloom, who is facilitating a seminar in Second Life that runs concurrent to his students’ field placements. “It has helped to break down some of the initial anxiety students can feel about practising their counselling and intervention skills in front of peers. The confidence they gain in the virtual world can help them excel out in the real one.”
The virtual campus resides on a Georgian College island created by Computer Studies students as part of a systems project course taught by Jaret Wright.