A project which trains paramedic students online through real-life scenarios has won Jisc’s outstanding ICT initiative award at the Times Higher Awards, owing to its potential implications for other universities.
Dr Malcolm Read OBE, Jisc's executive secretary, said: "We are very proud to sponsor these awards for the third year running to help showcase the innovative use of digital technology that is keeping the UK at the forefront of the world’s knowledge economy.”
Emily Conradi, project manager at St George's, University London and award winner said: “The online environment evolved from issues that St George’s tutors were having with recreating paramedic work situations, which are impossible to simulate realistically in the classroom, and also with managing face-to-face meetings between students and tutors when the learners are spending time in work placements.
“The tutors developed an island in the virtual environment Second Life to allow students to work together as a paramedic team on different emergency scenes. They interact with patients by questioning, examining and treating them and the scenario unfolds in response to the students’ actions. Handover notes are emailed to their tutor for feedback.” The tutors developed an island in the virtual environment Second Life to allow students to work together as a paramedic team on different emergency scenes.
Sarah Porter, head of innovation at Jisc said: “In judging the award, we were looking for an initiative that really stood out for its spirit of creativity. The St George’s project is using technology in a way that is very practical and highly relevant to supporting learners in new paradigms, which is close to Jisc’s own mission for finding innovative solutions to the issues facing UK colleges and universities.”
The web-based application running these decision-making scenarios is open source, enabling others to build their own training scenarios. Coventry and Greenwich universities have trialled the scenarios with their paramedic students, while there have already been over 100 requests for demonstrations from interested parties.
David Baker, Jisc deputy chair said: “The project at St George’s is impressive for what you might call its ‘horizontal scalability’ – the possibility for this use of technology to have an impact on teaching and learning in other universities in the future. Testing out practical work in virtual research environments is an innovative way of approaching medical scenarios that could be replicated across the academic spectrum.”
The initiative, which received international media coverage when it launched last year, has been highly praised by students who typically commented, “Communicating with others helped me to assess the situation and gave me a better understanding,” and “It’s much better to be able to actually perform treatments rather than just talk about it.”
The judges for the award were Professor David Baker, deputy chair of Jisc and former principal of University College Plymouth St Mark & St John; Sarah Porter, head of innovation at Jisc, and Dr Sarah Thomas, Bodley's librarian and director of Oxford University Library Services.
Find out more about the Jisc-sponsored Times Higher Education Awards