Rheumatoid Arthritis Joint Protection Education Display is now a completed PhD project, open to everyone, that is aimed at instructing individuals how to correctly deal with Rheumatoid Arthritis. For people who do not suffer from the disease, the display is a neat infotainment. This research inworld was conducted by occupational therapist Dr. Rashid Kashani who is also known as Rashid (rashid.singh) in Second Life.
Here’s what I learnt from him:
How did you find out about Second Life?
Dr. Rashid Kashani: I originally found out about SL via one of my PhD supervisors, Dr. Maged Boulos, who was doing a research study at the time using a Sexual Health SIM at Plymouth University.
What inspired you to use SL for your PhD research work and how did it actually help you?
Dr. Rashid Kashani: I tried out SL and felt it might be the more immersive online experience I was wanting my clients to have if they couldn’t attend RL education sessions. SL was the medium that my research was carried out in as it was a VW study, so it was very helpful.
What year did you start the project in Second Life?
Dr. Rashid Kashani: I started the initial exploration etc around 2008, but that was then followed up with a combination of qualitative interviews and coding, etc. The actual building and alpha / beta testing was from around 2010-2012. The actual pilot RCT was around 2013-2014 with the writing up taking up most of 2015-2016, including the final defence, viva and revisions.
At present, are you working on any other project inworld?
Dr. Rashid Kashani: The PhD study was a success, so I am mainly working on catching up on my clinical practice, writing articles and looking at porting over the SIM to other VWs, if possible. Future projects are definitely in the works as I have also branched out my clinical practice to pediatrics and feel there may be a lot of uses for a VW medium with younger populations that are under served.
How valuable is Second Life and other such 3D worlds when it comes to education?
Dr. Rashid Kashani: The value of VWs is considerable in education and there are several studies to support that claim. Quality studies, such as comparison studies, pilot RCTs, and full RCTs are needed to better define our best practices in education, provide evidence to funders about the efficacy and cost effectiveness and reflect a shift in the types of learning experiences users are expecting.
What, according to you, is the future of education and awareness in Second Life?
Dr. Rashid Kashani: I think that SL will eventually, go the way of other early iterations of new technology. America Online was the most recognizable name in ISPs several years ago, I now can’t get a room of 20 year old students to recognize the logo on screen. SL will not be disappearing immediately, but it will one day be a relic of days past, as newer VWs with similar user driven content capabilities are invented, and with better graphics and user experiences. I think VWs will gradually develop as a tool that can be used in traditional education settings as a combination of AR, the Internet of things and 3D web/movies/etc become more mainstream. Again, some of this will be tied to serious research as well as marketing focused not just on the enterntainment value or the the “wow” factor alone, but that there are studies that indicate it is an effective learning tool and has the ability to be value added as an educational medium.