Major Article 

Virtual Worlds in Nursing Education: A Synthesis of the Literature

Jennie C. De Gagne, PhD, RN-BC, CNE; Jina Oh, PhD, RN; Jeongae Kang, MS; Allison A. Vorderstrasse, DNSc, APRN, CNE; Constance M. Johnson, PhD, RN

  • Journal of Nursing Education
  • July 2013 - Volume 52 · Issue 7: 391-396
  • DOI: 10.3928/01484834-20130610-03


Although the literature has highlighted the use of virtual worlds in teaching–learning, little is known about the concepts associated with this technology in nursing education. Moreover, the application of virtual worlds to education has been underdeveloped theoretically, with much of the work being exploratory. Thus, the aim of this integrative review was to identify the current evidence on the use of virtual worlds in the education of nursing and other health professional students and to describe emerging themes surrounding this phenomenon. We searched seven electronic databases for relevant articles and used Whittemore’s and Knafl’s integrative review method to synthesize the literature. Twelve articles met the selection criteria for this review, from which three overarching themes emerged: (a) critical reasoning skills, (b) student-centered learning, and (c) instructional design considerations. This integrative review extends our understanding of virtual worlds in nursing education and the potential barriers and facilitators of their use. [J Nurs Educ. 2013;52(7):391–396.]

Dr. De Gagne is Assistant Professor, School of Nursing, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia; Dr. Oh is Associate Professor, Department of Nursing, Institute of Health Science, Inje University, Busan, South Korea; Ms. Kang is doctoral student, School of Education, University of North Carolina, Greensboro; Dr. Vorderstrasse is Assistant Professor, and Dr. Johnson is Associate Professor, School of Nursing, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina.

This work was supported by the Korea Meteorological Administration Research and Development Program under the Center for Atmospheric and Earthquake Research (CATER 2009-3310) Foundation and the Inje University Research and Scholarship Foundation in 2011–2012. The authors thank Marilyn M. Lombardi, PhD, Director of Academic and Strategic Technology, Duke University School of Nursing, for her initial critique of the manuscript, and Ms. Elizabeth Tornquist, Expert Technical Editor, for her assistance in proofreading and editing the manuscript. The authors have disclosed no potential conflicts of interest, financial or otherwise.

Address correspondence to Jina Oh, PhD, RN, Associate Professor, Department of Nursing, Institute of Health Science, Inje University, Bokjiro 75, Busanjin gu, Busan, 614-735, Korea; e-mail:

Received: December 13, 2012
Accepted: February 27, 2013
Posted Online: June 10, 2013



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