Quality: The Real Benchmark of Value in Technology-Enhanced Learning (Part 2)Susan Aldridge | President of Drexel University Online, Drexel University
Authentic learning has always been a critical component of professional studies in such fields as healthcare and education, law and engineering — where internships and practicums are routine academic requirements. And with interactive technologies such as virtual reality and videoconferencing, we’re now able to reinforce, and in some cases reproduce, these site-based learning experiences by creating high-quality, digital teaching tools that can be incorporated into any learning environment.
Here are just a few of the media-rich enhancements we’re using at my own university to help students in our nursing and medical schools master more than a few life-saving skills.
1. Tina the Avatar
Drexel University’s College of Nursing and Health Professions is well-acquainted with the value of patient proxies for teaching essential clinical skills. That’s why we’ve built a high-tech simulation laboratory on campus, complete with life-size mannequins and state-of-the-art medical equipment. Yet this arrangement is anything but convenient for Drexel’s many online nursing students. So to sharpen their clinical practice skills from a distance, the college has moved its lab onto the laptop, with the help of an avatar named Tina Jones.
This 29-year-old virtual patient is nothing short of amazing in her ability to respond like any real-life patient with a complicated medical history and a distinct personality. Consequently, she offers online RN-BSN students a unique chance to test drive their diagnostic and interpersonal skills by performing high-stakes clinical assessments — over and over, if necessary. By observing the interaction, instructors can also provide immediate feedback around targeted areas for improvement.
2. DocCom and WebPatientEncounter
In a similar vein, the Drexel University College of Medicine developed an online learning resource, DocCom, for medical students and residents to use in building and enhancing relationships with their patients through effective communication, proven critical for improving patient outcomes, promoting patient safety and increasing physician job satisfaction.
DocCom offers 42 media-rich online modules that incorporate a series of annotated video vignettes, along with skills assessment checklists, designed to teach positive physician/patient interaction in a variety of real-world situations. As a result, students learn a wealth of important skills, from gathering vital information and delivering bad news to reading non-verbal cues and communicating across cultures.
The college also created WebPatientEncounter, a compatible online videoconferencing application that enables students to apply what they’ve learned by engaging remotely in live encounters with standardized patients, who use structured assessments for rating and discussing student performance. At the end of each encounter, the physician-in-training then has a chance to work on specific competencies, by watching video vignettes that demonstrate how the interaction could or should be enhanced.
3. Forensic Science Simulations
Drexel’s online certificate program in forensic trends and issues in contemporary healthcare was developed to provide healthcare professionals with the expert knowledge and practical skills for conducting comprehensive, sensitive and legally sufficient clinical assessments in the aftermath of violent crime. As such, it incorporates authentic learning experiences through sophisticated simulations that produce different outcomes (i.e. success or failure), depending on the student’s course of action.
For example, a three-dimensional virtual crime scene — complete with multiple “clues” and continuous feedback — empowers students to complete a vulnerability risk assessment. There are also realistic simulations that reinforce effective strategies for interviewing victims and offenders to elicit details of the crime. Likewise, these learning enhancements incorporate a playback feature for reviewing and improving performance.
Author Perspective: Administrator