Using Virtual Simulation to Enhance Student Learning: A Case-Based Approach

Friday, 28 July 2017: 11:25 AM

Jone Tiffany, DNP, RN, CNE, CHSE, ANEF
Nursing, Bethel University, St. Paul, MN, USA

The topics of inclusivity, diversity, cultural awareness, and patient-centered care coordination are difficult to adequately explore in a traditional classroom setting. Innovative educational strategies are needed to better prepare nurses to succeed in complex healthcare environments where quality and safety are paramount. Virtual reality software and environments such as Second Life (SL) hold potential as part of the solution by providing innovative and interactive platforms for educational experiences that simulate real world situations. These platforms offer opportunities to utilize the virtual world to expose nursing students to learning in a new way.

This presentation will describe how the virtual platform of Second Life was utilized for simulated role-play experiences. In addition, the literature surrounding the use of virtual platforms for simulated nursing education will be presented. Advances in virtual education have created an environment that presents new opportunities to help foster positive student learning and exploration. Such innovations can be implemented to aid in teaching about many concepts, including patient-centered care coordination and inclusivity.

The use of the virtual platform of Second Life (SL) afforded a unique opportunity to use virtual role-play simulation to experience what it is like to walk in another’s shoes. In one study, fifteen graduate nurse educator students enrolled in a course titled “Inclusivity in Nursing Education” and were randomly assigned a customized avatar, representing a marginalized person for use in a role-play simulation in the virtual world of SL. Students indicated they increased their own capacity to understand, appreciate, and relate to people different from themselves.

In another study, a virtual ambulatory care clinic was built in Second Life and students created online avatars and engaged in an experience where they discussed concerns that accompanied clinic visits; including heart failure, diabetes, and depression. Student preparation for the virtual experience took place via a simulated electronic health record. The process of the virtual role-play simulation itself, including the facilitator’s role will be discussed during this presentation. The virtual simulation role-play experience also gave students the opportunity to practice their phone-triage skills through the use a virtual role-play experience where they handled a patient phone call situation. Students found this experience to enhance the professional nursing role of patient educator. At the end of their experience, students completed a teaching plan, which further expanded the learning about the role of patient educator. Focus group discussions of the use of this technology reported enhanced learning.

Although future research is needed to determine the full extent to which virtual platforms can be used effectively in nursing education, these studies demonstrated that valuable learning regarding complex topics can take place in the virtual world.