Intellectual outputs

This section contains the intellectual outputs produced by the project consortium. The documents are available in all partner languages below.

REQUIREMENTS SPECIFICATION FOR THE DIGITAL_BRIDGES PLATFORM (O1-A1)

PEDAGOGICAL FRAMEWORK FOR SIMULATED PRACTICE LEARNING FOR SOCIAL WORKERS WHO INTERACT WITH VULNERABLE PEOPLE (O1-A2)

CURRICULUM FOR SIMULATED PRACTICE LEARNING FOR SOCIAL WORKERS WHO INTERACT WITH VULNERABLE PEOPLE (O1-A3)

GAME DESIGN DOCUMENT (O2-A1)

SIMULATED PRACTICE EDUCATIONAL GAME (O2-A2)

PEDAGOGIC GUIDE (O3-A1)

TEACHER TRAINING MATERIALS (O3-A2)

EVALUATION OF PEDAGOGIC GUIDE AND TEACHER TRAINING (O3-A3)

The Digital_Bridges project has developed an immersive 3D virtual environment to provide a safe and readily accessible environment where Higher Education and VET students and professional social workers who deal with vulnerable people can learn by interacting with NPCs (Non-Player Characters) in a simulation of a real world service. The project developed a curriculum for simulated practice learning (Intellectual Output O1-A3), a Pedagogy (Intellectual Output O1-A2) and Pedagogic Guide (Intellectual Output O3-A1) and a set of training materials in the partner languages (Intellectual Output O3-A2).

The teacher training course was run in the partner countries in early 2016 with 200 teachers/trainers, although not all completed the pre-test and post-test questionnaires. 120 participants completed both the pre-test and the post-test questionnaires. There were a set of question aimed at evaluating the simulated practice environment from the teacher/trainer’s perspective and the results showed an increase in knowledge and skills significant at the 0.05 level and in most cases at the 0.01 level. While not all of the questions are about the use of the simulated practice environment, the results were encouraging and allowed us to progress to the next stage of evaluation, which was piloting the game with Further Education/Higher Education students and trainee nursery workers.

ANALYSIS OF PILOTING (O4-A2)

The Digital_Bridges project has developed an immersive 3D virtual environment to provide a safe and readily accessible environment where Higher Education and VET students and professional social workers who deal with vulnerable people can learn by interacting with NPCs (Non-Player Characters) in a simulation of a real world service. The project piloted the simulated practice environment in the partner countries in the first half of 2016 with 500 students/professional workers. 423 participants completed both the pre-test and the post-test questionnaires. The knowledge and skills questions were analysed using Wilcoxon matched pairs signed rank tests and the results showed that increase in knowledge and skills were significant at the 0.01 level.

The results from the analysis of the piloting demonstrate the potential of using a simulated practice environment to supplement real-world practice learning. The project has resulted in positive impacts such as improved competences linked to professional profiles (both for social and healthcare students and teachers supporting these groups); improved levels of skills for employability; a more active participation in society; increased opportunities for professional development through the existence of the simulated practice environment and, as a by-product, improved levels of digital competence.

POLICY AND PRACTICE GUIDANCE (O5-A1)

The Digital Bridges project resulted in the development of innovative practices in the training of social and healthcare students and professionals at organisational (public/private), regional, national and European levels. More specifically, the project examined whether a 3D simulated practice environment that provided a range of scenarios that learners could experience could be used as a supplement to practice learning.
The project has resulted in positive impacts such as improved competences linked to professional profiles (both for social and healthcare students and teachers supporting these groups); improved levels of skills for employability; a more active participation in society; increased opportunities for professional development through the existence of the simulated practice environment and, as a by-product, improved levels of digital competence.

The report summarises the key intellectual outputs from the project including an analysis of the training provided to 200 teachers/tutors and an analysis of the piloting of the 3D simulated practice environment with 500 students/professional social workers.
This report aims to examine the policy context in which the “Digital Bridges” project operated, both at European Union level and how the simulated practice environment developed seeks to address this context. This report concludes by providing strategic and general recommendations on how the key outputs from this project can be taken forward. In particular, the report makes the following three strategic recommendations aimed at policy makers and those who influence policy in the use of new and emerging technologies in teaching and learning within the digital agenda:

1. Policy and Evolving Practice
Practice learning is an integral part of many social work programmes across Europe. However, practice learning is also a key component of many other programmes such as medicine, nursing and teaching. Moreover, many programmes also contain elements of work-based learning where students can work with an organisation (public or private sector) to deliver some artefact (eg. a report, a design or a piece of software). In all cases where practice learning or work-based learning occurs, learners could gain experience of working in the real-world in advance of their placement through a simulated practice environment, affording them the benefits discussed earlier in this report. We recommend that consideration be given to the use of 3D simulated practice environments for a range of practice learning opportunities.

2. Pedagogy
Policy makers, organisations and institutions need to improve their capacity to adapt, promote innovation and exploit the potential of technologies and digital content. The Digital Bridges intellectual outputs demonstrate how digital content through serious games technology can create and stimulate the advancement of a new and forward looking pedagogy, a pedagogy that can be seen as the basis for valuing the development of new and sustainable knowledge architectures. The pedagogy evolved through the Digital Bridges experience has created a learning space that innovates learning. The creation of the Digital Bridges simulated practice environment as an innovative learning space is being demonstrated autonomously by the learner, focussed upon attainment through self-reflection, rehearsed learning and new insights into practice learning assessment, indeed creating a new perspective on transferable competence and the potential to influence pan European Curricula and accreditation.

3. Technology
The Digital Bridges project has demonstrated the potential of using a simulated practice environment to supplement real-world practice learning. While the underlying 3D games engine that provides the underpinning technology for the environment can be used for practice learning for other disciplines, the simulation relies on developing appropriate scenarios. These scenarios consist of both narrative content and graphics/animations; eg. NPCs (Non-Player Characters) moving about a nursery scene. The narrative content needs to be written by subject matter experts and the graphics/animation by technologists. We recommend a library of reusable scenarios should be produced to expand the use of simulated practice environment and recommend that authoring tools be developed that allows subject matter experts to easily produce new scenarios. We also recommend that the games engine be extended to support a 2D environment for less powerful computers and to support mobile devices.

BEST PRACTICE GUIDES (O5-A2)

USE CASE SCENARIOS (O5-A3)

QUALITY ASSURANCE STRATEGY (O6-A1)

QUALITY ASSURANCE REPORTS (O6-A2)

DEVELOPMENT OF AN IMMERSIVE 3D SIMULATED PRACTICE ENVIRONMENT FOR SOCIAL AND HEALTH CARE TRAINING (O7-A3A)

AN ASSESSMENT ENGINE: EDUCATORS AS EDITORS OF THEIR SERIOUS GAMES’ ASSESSMENT (O7-A3B)