R. Rosich

University of Alaska Anchorage (UNITED STATES)
Avatar technology as it is currently being utilized in an undergraduate general education university class (i.e., Psychology 150 Lifespan Development) will be one focus of the presentation. The MyVirtualLife program is produced by Pearson Publishing and has been designed to be an interactive and immersive simulation web site designed for students taking a college-level developmental psychology course. The program covers all strands of development (i.e., physical, cognitive, social, and emotional) and students experience raising a child (PART I- My Virtual Child) as a virtual parent and also experience what it is like to age (Part II My Virtual Life) from a first-person perspective.

Training health care professionals in the area of geriatrics, and assuring that they are competent in culturally competent care is critical. What is just is important is to have health care professionals understand the role that socio-historical influences play and the differential impact that an event may have on an individual according to what period of the lifespan (i.e., childhood, adolescence, adulthood) they occupied when the event took place. An innovative simulation case study has been developed and it showcases an ethnic elder avatar sharing their history. Use of simulation and avatar technology in the training of health care professions, or opening lines of discussion for brainstorming patient/client cases, is an advantage since the case study presented is controlled and the patient/client is virtual. This third-person engagement focuses upon the role of socio-historical events and can be used to facilitate development of a training module and framework for disseminating information that is usually not obtained through social histories of individuals take by health care professionals (McBride & Rosich, 2013).

The presentation will culminate by providing future directions in instruction regarding the use of first and third-person avatars in lifespan development and in geriatrics.

Through presentation of the My Virtual Life and the innovative Avatar case study program I hope to:
1) enhance understanding of simulation programs and their usefulness as instructional and research strategies within behavioral health,
2) increase understanding of lifespan developmental psychology and the role that simulation, and in particular, avatars (virtual parenting and first-person) are currently playing in disseminating academic content to undergraduate general education students,
3) increase understanding regarding training health care professionals in geriatrics and the importance of using innovative simulation avatar programs (i.e., third-person case study) to expand and enhance culturally competent training opportunities and clarify the role that non-normative history graded events play in elder patients/clients.

Learning Objectives:-Upon completion of the session, participants will:
• Recognize and understand the relationship between simulation programs and their potential use in behavioral health and research
• Describe non-normative history graded influences on development of individuals using a third person simulation avatar case study
• Relate the third person simulation avatar example to enhancement of cultural competence in geriatric clinical care, education of health care providers, and possible system transformation

References available upon request.