There are some things you can’t learn in a classroom. Could a professor teach a nursing student the best way to treat an accident victim? Could a police officer in training, learn to decipher crime scene clues by reading a book? At Algonquin College they don’t have to.
The school located in Ontario, Canada uses web.alive, a 3D virtual program by Avaya that allows the users to interact with one another in simulated environments. The latest version of this program is called AvayaLive Engage. “It’s a little bit like Second Life (an online role playing game), except this program is run entirely through the Web,” said Glenn MacDougall director of Learning and Teaching Services at Algonquin. The college is using the program to train future health and public safety professionals.
The concept behind the program is similar to that of popular role playing games. Each student creates an avatar to act as their virtual online self. The avatars can then interact with one another and with elements of their environment. Students can also accomplish specific tasks much like they would in a game. “From the student perspective, it’s akin to World of Warcraft except no one has weapons and they’re not killing trolls,” MacDougall said.
But students are learning skills useful for their chosen professions. The college is using web.alive to provide real-world training to students in its nursing, paramedic, police and child youth worker programs. Students using web.alive learn to interact with other health and safety professionals in a myriad of situations, especially those that require cross collaboration.
“You can build certain simulation environments like a car accident with an individual lying in the street. You can simulate the experience of finding someone who is in distress and calling the police. You can model the types of conversations that would happen in those situations,” MacDougall said.
Students can do all this without ever leaving the classroom thanks to cloud technology. Algonquin chose to have web.alive hosted by Avaya rather than at the school itself. Students access the program via the cloud, meaning it’s available anytime and anywhere there is Internet. Algonquin’s campus is 100 percent wireless, making this both a convenient and