Designing 3D Virtual Simulations in Nursing Education: The Rest of the Story

Tuesday, 10 November 2015: 10:40 AM

Tona L. Leiker, PhD, MN, BSN, RN, APRN-CNS, CNE
Nursing Programs, American Sentinel University, Aurora, CO, USA
Karen R. Whitham, MSN, MS, RN, CNE
American Sentinel University, Aurora, CO, USA

The changing landscape of academia with tightening clinical access for nursing students has led to innovation in nursing programs worldwide. One form of innovation has been the development of virtual simulations for both undergraduate and graduate nursing students. In addition, nursing education continues to transform to greater online and hybrid classroom formats from the traditional face-to-face classroom environment.

Designing innovative and engaging classroom and practice experiences for nursing students to meet this changing landscape was achieved through the development of five virtual simulation learning experiences. Undergraduate and graduate nursing students experience virtual simulations within the classroom. 3D virtual learning simulations were designed to meet student practice experiences in community health, leadership and management, and health assessment. Ongoing design work is supporting nursing student exploration of nursing theory and research in a virtual nursing museum. In addition, virtual simulation bots (a) support the student services experience, and (b) the students’ academic learning experience.

All of these virtual simulations, except the health assessment simulation, were designed and built by the University’s interprofessional group of committed academicians, instructional designers, and 3D virtual world multi-player, multi-user simulation experts. The goal was to create immersive and realistic simulation experiences for nursing students in a private and secure academic learning environment. Each new virtual simulation was imagined, designed, developed, beta tested and then introduced into the online classroom. Following initial classroom launch, metrics have been gathered to continuously improve the student learning outcomes and faculty experience.

Student and faculty feedback and course metrics assess the effectiveness of developing and implementing virtual simulations for use in nursing education. Pre and post – assessments within courses provide measurement information to support continued use of these various virtual simulations. Finally, use of metrics provide data to support changes within the 3D worlds and course designs to improve course delivery and learning outcomes.

Benefits of virtual simulation achieved include innovation in the nursing curriculum with value added learning for nursing students. Students are able to meet practice experience requirements with expanded flexibility via the virtual simulations. Each student has access to the simulated environment 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with requisite technical support. The virtual environment, hosted by the University is private and, therefore, a personally safe learning environment for students and faculty.

All virtual practice experiences are logged in real time using the student’s name. Each student has a unique login and password protected access. These accesses are logged such that the faculty of record is able to assess time in location, repeated attempts to competency, and assess or compare student documentation to student interaction in the 3D virtual world. As these learning experiences are real time during the enrolled course, students’ ability to fabricate practice experiences are minimized.

This session will conclude with next steps in the design, use, and evaluation of 3D virtual simulations in online education. Discussion topics will include use of formative and summative assessments within virtual simulations; and use of assessments to document achievement of program learning outcomes.