Ethics program enters virtual world through Second Life

9/9/2008 - By: Staff Report

As the Internet lures more consumers into the virtual world for buying and selling, universities are attracting more students into virtual classrooms. The Health Care Ethics Program (HCE) within the University's Nevada Center for Ethics & Health Policy became the first University group to hold a simultaneous live and virtual discussion in Second Life on Sept. 5.

The discussion group was hosted in a virtual coffee shop with online students with a live discussion group on campus in the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center. Fifteen people sat in the University's new library while two HCE avatars facilitated discussion in Second Life’s coffee shop, Open Latte at Mill Pond. Off-campus participants were able to hear the discussion, and participate through the use of their own personal microphone or by a typing in a chat window which could be viewed by the on-campus participants via the wall monitor.

Ethics Bytes, a new monthly ethics discussion, focused on Animal Research. It was led by ElizaBeth Beyer, chair of the HCE program, with special guest, Richard Simmonds, an emeritus professor of physiology and director of laboratory animal medicine.

HCE program coordinators said the Knowledge Center's @One computer lab offered the ideal technology to enable the real and virtual worlds to overlap.

“We were so excited to bring the two audiences together,” said Ginger Fenwick, HCE’s academic adviser. “It adds a whole new dimension to student engagement.”

Fenwick's avatar, dressed as a grey wolf for the discussion, made sure those online could hear the various speakers and were given the opportunity to ask questions.

The discussion on Oct. 3 will be on the Ethics of Burning Man. Lee Gilmore, editor of “AfterBurn: Reflections on Burning Man,” is expected to be a special guest appearing at the discussion through her avatar in Second Life, while a simultaneous discussion group is held in @One.

For further information on Ethics Bytes, or the Program in Health Care Ethics, please contact (775) 327-2308, or visit the Program in Health Care Ethics website. The Program in Health Care Ethics is administered by the Nevada Center for Ethics & Health Policy and housed within the Division of Health Sciences.


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