The benefits and barriers of using virtual worlds to engage healthcare professionals on distance learning programmes

Catherine Hack

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    3 Citations (Scopus)


    Using the delivery of a large postgraduate distance learning module in bioethics to health professionals as an illustrative example, the type of learning activity that could be enhanced through delivery in an immersive virtual world (IVW) was explored. Several activities were repurposed from the “traditional” virtual learning environment into the IVW, providing insight into the pedagogical affordances of each environment. Voluntary classes, which were held each week over the 12-week module, were designed to provide deeper understanding of ethical theory and how it informs professional healthcare practice. Virtual classes included problem-based learning, flipped lectures, and role play. Following the introduction of the virtual classes, the module failure rate was less than 5%, compared with ∼11% in the previous two cohorts. However, the introduction of any new technology presents challenges to both staff and students; therefore, the barriers to using virtual worlds are also explored.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-14
    JournalInteractive Learning Environments
    Publication statusPublished - 9 Jul 2015



    • online learning communities
    • flexible learning
    • PBL
    • role play
    • flipped lecture

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