‘Riverina Shore’ is a virtual community which has been developed within the School of Community Health as an online learning resource for students. The virtual community is presented as an attractive webpage in which client scenarios are embedded in locations such as homes, community health centre and social spaces.
The development of this virtual community was made possible through collaborative partnerships within CSU, between CSU and Albury-Wodonga Health, and most importantly with clients in the community. A model based on activity theory has been developed to illustrate this collaboration between clients, practitioners, academics, media technologists and educational designers.
Evaluation of this online learning resource with students, academics and practitioners through surveys and focus groups has highlighted its potential for engaging students with learning and enhancing their skills in clinical reasoning.
The aim of the project was to evaluate an ongoing collaboration between academics, practitioners, educational designers and media technologists, in the development of online simulated cases for complex cases in Podiatric Practice. The aspect of this project is to build on the team’s experience of interdisciplinary practice and online simulation, to clarify a model of best practice for collaboration, and to progress the development of the learning resource from single cases to a virtual community
The purpose of this virtual community is to facilitate student-focused learning, foster critical thinking and to enable opportunities for inter-professional learning. In the context of Community Health, students may interact with the scenarios to determine a clients’ health needs and goals, evaluate facilitators and barriers to improved health experiences, and analyse ways in which they could provide support or services.
Students can interact with the media resources at their own pace, using their own sense of logic. It is intended that academics will link to this web resource through subject i2 sites, in order to scaffold the specific purpose of the students’ learning experience.
The design of Riverina Shore has been planned carefully to enable intuitive navigation around the community, to stimulate the students’ curiosity and to ensure easy access to linked online resources. The website is accessible through mobile devices to maximise functionality.
This online simulation can be used by multiple professions in their own discipline groups, for example: occupational therapy; physiotherapy; podiatry; rehabilitation science; speech pathology; nursing; pharmacy; nutrition and dietetics; dental and oral health; education; exercise science; environmental sciences; social sciences; business studies.
Additionally, the community may be used for inter-professional activities in which students learn from, with and about each other, as they interact with the cases. ‘Riverina Shore’ therefore, has the potential to enable inter- professional learning about practice. As the virtual community provides a simulated workplace learning experience, its use may enable a reduction in the hours/weeks required for external placements. Core skills such as collaboration, communication, problem solving, clinical reasoning and project management could be developed using this online learning resource, thus creating an opportunity for reducing workplace learning expenses for students, the School and the university.
A number of key learning theme emerged from students interaction with the virtual community:
- Students could see people outside of a clinic setting/in the community/in a social setting.
- The could now see the bigger picture for a client and how their treatment fits into their broader lives.
- Students could look behind the scenes at what a person/family/carers are dealing with.
- Realising the physical/psychological/emotional/social impact of a condition on the person/family/carers/community.
- Seeing opportunities for IPP.
- Realising the positive impact of IPP on the person/family/community.
- A greater sense of realism in terms of the scenarios presented to students.