This may make some squeamish, but one NZ academic is using Second Life as a way of teaching midwifery.
Now, teaching childbirth to junior midwifery students may not be the first thought that jumps to your mind when asked the question, “What do you think virtual worlds could be used for?” but it seems to work.
As Sarah Stewart says,
“we went to the TLC Babies Maternity Pediatric Clinic which is owned by Contessa Marquez. Contessa very kindly allowed us to look at her birthing and examination rooms. She also had a quick chat with us about the types of people she ‘works’ with – she said that many women who role play pregnancy and birth in Second Life are women who cannot have children in real life. I appreciated being able to interact with someone as opposed to just wondering [sic] around, looking at walls.”
‘Wandering around looking at walls’ is one of the curses of a thinly-populated geography that could best be imagined as being roughly the size of Europe but containing only at best 80,000 people in it at any one time.
Sarah also makes some great points about what teaching in virtual worlds is like (not as easy as you would think, but as students become used to the technology it gets slightly easier).
A great post, and a tip of the Akubra to NWN for the heads-up.