Assessing Outcomes of Learning in Virtual Learning Environments: Scoping Review

Sunday, 8 November 2015: 11:40 AM

Rebecca Sisk, PhD, RN, CNE
MSN Online Program, Chamberlain College of Nursing, Downers' Grove, IL, USA
Dee McGonigle, PhD, MSN, BSN, RN, CNE, FAAN, ANEF
Chamberlain College of Nursing, Downer's Grove, IL, USA

Virtual learning environments (VLEs) such as Second Life provide a unique opportunity for nursing students to work through case studies and practice new roles in a safe milieu (Anderson, Page, & Wendorf, 2013). Taking students into a VLE for instruction involves immersing them into an authentic environment to work together and apply critical thinking and problem-solving skills (Bai, Lavin, & Duncan, 2012). As with any learning environment, a program of instruction in VLEs begins with specific learning outcomes and an assessment of learner needs, proceeds to selection of appropriate learning activities, and ends with an evaluation of whether students are meeting learning outcomes.

The literature in nursing describes multiple learning activities used in VLEs, many of them examples of active learning. However, no organized method of categorizing these activities or studying whether they improve learning outcomes exists. Scoping reviews are used when the types and amount of relevant literature on a topic are unclear. Therefore, the purpose of this presentation is to describe a scoping review of VLE learning activities that have been reported in the literature, to categorize those activities according to the types of learning outcomes they address, and to describe any research related to those learning outcomes. The questions posed were (1) What are the VLE learning activities that have been described in the literature,  (2) What are the reported learning outcomes of these activities, and 3) What categories of VLE learning activities does the scoping review reveal?

The review is based on a thorough search in the EBSCOHost, Proquest, and OVID databases.  Specific EBSCOHost databases used are CINAHL, Education Research Complete, ERIC, and MEDLINE.  Search terms used are “learning outcomes,” “nursing,” and “virtual learning environment or Second Life”.  Learning activities are demonstrated with a table that describes the author and year of publication, the name of the activity, learning outcomes addressed, and a brief summary of the results of any research reported on assessment of learning. A model is provided in the presentation that demonstrates the categories of learning activities and possible learning outcomes found in the scoping review.