National Nursing Week: e-Learning gets its game on
Nursing is constantly evolving, and so is nursing education.
During National Nursing Week Week, the Faculty of Health Disciplines at Athabasca University is proud to shine the spotlight on some of the many students, alumni, faculty, and researchers who work on the leading edge of nursing knowledge and practice — to improve the health of all Canadians. For more great stories, visit the FHD website.
Half-way through your online module it hits you: You’re having way more fun than you expected. You’re expanding your knowledge, practicing skills and can’t wait to see where the “game” takes you next.
Scenarios like this make Dr. Barbara Wilson-Keates happy. The Academic Coordinator, Bachelor of Nursing, blends her extensive nursing, clinical and research background with expertise in e-learning to work on the leading edge of health care education: virtual gamification.
Her 10–15 minute virtual simulation “games,” starts with a scenario detailing a patient’s situation, and ask what priority actions should be taken for that particular patient. Students have several options, each leading to a different outcome. Make the right choice and the game continues; choose wrong and it ends. At every point, students learn why their choice was right or wrong.
“Whether you call it e-learning, virtual simulation or virtual gamification, this kind of approach is particularly effective in nursing education ... It augments clinical teaching—it doesn’t replace it—and ensures students are exposed to many different situations.”– Dr. Barbara Wilson-Keates
“It’s particularly useful for high-risk, low-frequency or emergency events, ensuring that all students have the same clinical experience.”
The power and pull of virtual simulations lies in their accessibility and increased student engagement. Games can be completed any time, from anywhere, at students’ convenience. Because patients are never at any risk, students are more inclined to act more quickly and decisively.
“Research has shown that you learn most effectively by being actively engaged,” Wilson-Keates says. “Virtual simulations enrich learning by doing.”
They can also help nurses respond to rapidly emerging health issues. Addressing vaccine hesitancy, for example, Wilson-Keates and a colleague, Kristin Petrovic, are developing an audio scenario in which a community health nurse discusses the issue with parents. “In the real world, it might be hard to have that conversation, but if students have heard it, when the situation arises, they’ll be better prepared.”
Gamification’s ultimate winners are patients and health care practitioners. “Patients receive better, safer care when nurses better understand them and their needs,” Wilson-Keates says. “And because nursing is constantly changing and expanding, this helps open up new career pathways.”