Leeds Metropolitan University has launched a series of virtual learning tools, allowing practitioners and students to interact, and experience real life situations on a range of complex and sensitive subject matters.
The five new learning tools, which are the first of its kind in the UK education market, were developed in collaboration with Experiential Learning experts Toolwire. The individual modules cover key areas of Social Work, Speech and Language Therapy, Healthcare and Sustainability, and assist those wishing to develop and enhance their skills through continued professional development in the following work situations:
· Caring for people with eating and drinking difficulties (Dysphagia) in advanced dementia as a healthcare worker;
· Managing dysphagia in people living with dementia as a speech and language therapist;
· Safeguarding children as a social worker;
· Safeguarding adults at risk as a social worker; and
· Evaluating an energy-efficient development as a construction, design or law professional.
Leeds Metropolitan University has extended the use of Experiential Learning tools as a direct result of the positive feedback gained from users of the Toolwire LearnScape on Safeguarding Children and in response to the recommendations highlighted in the recent Francis Report1 which came about from the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry.
Anne Llewellyn, Senior Lecturer at Leeds Metropolitan University, explains: “Teaching practical and behavioural skills on complex subject matters is a challenge in a traditional classroom because these skills are typically developed through years of work experience. For example, in the case of adult safe guarding our students are able to understand complex issues within the emotional context of the scenarios – therefore allowing important decisions to be made through objective and subjective knowledge. You simply can’t deliver this from two dimensional case studies.”
In February 2013, Toolwire and Leeds Metropolitan University received the Gold Medal for ‘External Learning Project of the Year’ at The Learning Awards sponsored by the Learning and Performance Institute, a global institute for learning and development professionals, specifically for its child protection training modules. The collaboration, originally inspired by the Munro Review of Child Protection (2011)2, enables students to explore the real life situations, issues and pressures encountered by social workers dealing with child protection cases. The project, led by Senior Lecturer, Anne Llewellyn, was also shortlisted for the Times Higher Education Awards under the category of ‘Outstanding ICT Initiative of the Year’.
John Valencia, CEO at Toolwire, comments, “Online Experiential Learning allows organisations to tackle a wide range of skills such as diversity in the workplace, child protection or industry specific tasks. The concept of learning by being isn’t new – but this style of learning is proving to be highly effective in a blended teaching environment. By preparing users to anticipate and deal effectively with challenging situations in the workplace, Toolwire LearnScapes play a key part in the achievement of workforce readiness.”