Back in May, I wrote about an innovative Loyalist College program that used Second Life to teach students preparing to train with the Canadian Border Services Agency. The college's Virtual World Design Centre created a simulation of the US/Canadian border in SL, then used VOIP so students could roleplay as guards interviewing drivers coming across. The students, program director Ken Hudson (Kenny Hubble in SL) told me then, "gained confidence from the experience, and that they had a competitive advantage for job placement over others who did not have the experience." I was curious if that confidence translated to real metrics, and recently followed up with Hudson.
"Yes, we have some metrics," he told me, "and they are quite positive." For these students, 15% of their final grade in the class is determined by demonstrating their border interview skills. In 2007, before the SL simulation was added, he said, the students' average grade was 58%. This year, with the simulation in place, Hudson told me, "student interview skills average grade [is] 86%." So overall, a 28% improvement-- too significant to ignore.
Ken will formally present his findings at the Second Life® Education Community Conference next week, so if you're going to Tampa, Florida, watch for it.