School of Nursing and Midwifery / Centre for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Services Research
Objective: Technology has changed our world; changed the way we communicate, the way we do business and the way education is delivered. As a result, undergraduate student cohorts come to university equipped with new technology, and educators need to transform the delivery of the curricula to satisfy a variety of learning styles. Nursing education, in particular, is developing and transforming to incorporate technology into the learning environment. Clinical placement opportunities are often sparse and alternative experiences need to be considered. Across nursing curricula, it has been recognised that technology has the capacity to provide real-life learning experiences that promote student engagement and meet the learning needs of a diverse student cohort. Methods: This paper will discuss the development of a “Virtual World” in an undergraduate nursing program in Western Australia. The Virtual World initiative is designed to support students to understand the holistic, health-centred intent of the curriculum. Results: Initial results have shown that the Virtual World and humanising the curriculum, has increased learner engagement, improved critical thinking and decision-making. It has enhanced and maintained a high level of student satisfaction and self efficacy as well as assisting the development of graduate nurses who perceive themselves as health advocates, problem-solvers and organisers of care. Research will continue to follow the use of the Virtual World model, incorporating a virtual family and its integration into the undergraduate nursing curriculum. Conclusions: In the current climate of nurse education and due to a reduction in availability of clinical placements, alternative authentic experiences need to be offered. The development of the Virtual World has enabled meaningful participation in a safe and supportive learning environment.