Simulation: informing and enhancing curriculum in Health, Wellbeing and Social Care

Turner, Wendy; Hallawell, Bob and Haider, Sharif (2021). Simulation: informing and enhancing curriculum in Health, Wellbeing and Social Care. The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK.


Simulation is a rapidly growing aspect of teaching, learning and assessment across HE. Simulation replaces real experiences with online learning opportunities that (seek to) replicate the real world, in a way that is immersive and interactive. As a teaching tool, simulation pedagogy relates to three levels:
· Learning object – a simulation which is suitable for multiple contexts to be adopted unused.
· Adaptable simulation – a simulation which need adaption to fit the context
· Bespoke simulation – created for a particular context.
Further, simulation helps resolve practical dilemmas and mitigate ethical tensions, of experiential learning in HE. Utilising alternative experiential teaching tools in HE, has become increasingly urgent, given the HE experiences of 2020 and Covid 19.
The School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care (HWSC) has not yet fully exploited the use of bespoke simulation within its curriculum, rather it has borrowed or adapted simulation to fit into teaching content.
Simulation in higher education, as an applied pedagogy for HWSC, has the potential to offer students a chance to learn from simulated real-world situations. Initial research shows that simulation enhances academic achievements, experiences and student satisfaction.
This project sought to identify what the different types of simulation are, for and to identify how simulation might be used to enhance the HWSC curriculum.
Overall, the research project found the commonly used simulation methodology and tools utilised within the health and social care were web-based simulation scenarios, computer based simulation, human/patient simulators, virtual reality and hybrid simulation. Skilled facilitation of simulated learning, through design and delivery, was shown to improve student satisfaction, outcomes and the overall learning experiences.
The underpinning pedagogies were active teaching methodologies, such as incrementally developed and scaffolded experiential learning which enabled an immersive learning experience for the student. A key message was that simulated learning should be designed into the learning rather than added on.
Within health and social care higher education, commonly, simulation was used to prepare students for real-life practice. For example, preparation for practice with service users, such as in their home, or practice of clinical skills within healthcare settings.
As a creative and innovative HE pedagogy, simulated learning offers us, the Open University, an exciting opportunity to embrace this as a teaching approach, with stable functions and tools, to enhance our student offer, enrich the student experience and progress outcomes, within the field of HWSC HE.

Plain Language Summary

Our changing society and post-lockdown way of living have collided to catapult the place of simulated learning in health and social care education to the forefront.
In educating the professionals of the future, we must equip them with technological knowledge and a strong digital skill set. Coupled with the need to learn, practice and execute skills-based competencies, simulated learning offers a real option to enhance our traditional educational approaches.
Further factors play into this online digital landscape: the emergent urgency to find and sustain increasing student placements in health and social care settings, sufficient mentors and supervisors to oversee these placements,

increased logistical issues in accessing real settings and, the lessons we are learning from ‘lockdown’ learning and the new ways of working and delivering care to people.
The project sought to understand these issues for HE professional curriculum.

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