Use of Virtual World for Soft/Communication Skills Training: Feasibility Assessment

Use of Virtual World for Soft/Communication Skills Training: Feasibility Assessment

Patricia Abshier
DOI: 10.4018/jgcms.2012070105
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The current state of the economy has created an increased pressure on companies to establish more efficient training programs, resulting in an upswing in e-learning and distance learning programs. With this increased demand for e-learning/distance learning training, the need for more interactive training that goes beyond the traditional webinar and video conference has also been identified. The literature regarding virtual learning platforms suggests that the use of simulations, both asynchronous and synchronous, holds great potential for enhancing the knowledge and skills of learning in a myriad of fields. Although these platforms are proving to have great benefits, they also are showing some challenges and barriers to overcome. After a review of current research, Cicatelli Associates, Inc. (CAI), conducted an internal feasibility study to determine the feasibility of the use of virtual worlds in training healthcare and health care service provision staff in general counseling skills and communications skills. After examining, both the strengths and the challenges of utilizing this method for training it was determined that several barriers exist that currently prohibit the organization from using this method. These barriers include access to appropriate computer systems, as well as the lack of fine or micro non-verbal gestures in virtual worlds.
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Concepts And Definitions

In order to promote professional development and training, adult learning methods are used to make learning relevant for the trainee and to promote self-directed learning that directly impacts the learner (De Lorenzo & Abbot, 2004). Patient-centered care is focused on meeting the needs of patients through exploring the reason for their visit. With the shift from face-to-face tailored adult learning to e-learning/distance learning platforms CAI has implemented various methods to train individuals to increase their knowledge and skills in patient-centered. These include the use of webinars, self-paced learning modules, virtual reality simulations and worlds as well as face-to-face interactions.

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