Anglia Ruskin University
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Digitising Experience: the creation and application of immersive simulations in social work training

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-08-30, 16:29 authored by Paul Driver, Vanessa Ferguson
Detailed and elaborate spatial simulations are commonly used in the education and training of healthcare professionals. Learners benefit from replica operating theatres and clinical skills environments that enable them to gain insight from the hands-on aspect of authentic scenarios that permit them to apply there what they have learned in context. However, these physical recreations are expensive to build extremely rare in the context of social work training. Digital learning spaces are typically two dimensional. Virtual learning environments (VLEs) consist of pages that can be scrolled through and content such as text, images and video, which can be embedded to provide learners with input material and tasks. In this paper we will explore the creation and deployment of three-dimensional digital spaces that afford social work students the opportunity to explore and interact within simulations of authentic real-world environments. We will also examine how digital inscription—the addition of information such as questions, prompts and interactive media—can be used to support students in the development of observation skills and critical thinking. Our objective is to improve the learning experience for social work students and explore the feasibility of using digital simulations to train real world skills. Within all UK social work training programmes there is an expectation that students will practise skills in a suitable environment prior to service-user contact. For this reason we decided to investigate the practicalities of creating and the impact of using immersive digital media to explore real world scenarios that would otherwise be extremely challenging to access at this point in their training. For instance, a service user’s home and a psychiatric facility. This is an ongoing project and so far the results have tended to indicate that students engaging with the 360-degree video exercises have been able to grasp threshold concepts that would otherwise been difficult to teach. In addition to this, there is also accumulating evidence that the use of this technology has produced higher levels of engagement and an overall improvement in module evaluation.



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Journal of Practice Teaching and Learning




Whiting & Birch

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  • Accepted version


  • eng

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Faculty of Health, Education, Medicine & Social Care


© Whiting & Birch, 2019. The published version is available at

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