INTERPROFESSIONAL EDUCATION FOR PRE-LICENSURE LEARNERS IN A MULTI-USER VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENT: LESSONS LEARNED FROM STUDENTS, INSTRUCTORS, AND ADMINISTRATORS

This mixed-methods study explores three perspectives (student, instructor, and administrator) on a novel interprofessional education (IPE) course delivered in a multi-user virtual environment (MUVE) to undergraduate, pre-licensure learners. Students from four training programs (Nursing, Police, Paramedic, and Child and Youth Worker, n = 102) and instructors (n = 9) interacted as avatars in an online virtual world over eight weeks, participating in weekly meetings involving group discussion, case studies, and simulation. Quantitative analyses indicated that the vast majority of learners (92%) found the MUVE-based IPE course helpful in preparing them for their work, and students rated most learning activities and the ease of navigation in the virtual environment favorably. Qualitative analyses revealed that the MUVE-based IPE course fulfilled important pedagogical objectives of IPE, including learning about other professions while clarifying own their roles, as well as learning the pragmatics of communicating and collaborating with other professionals. At the same time, however, instructors and students in the MUVE-based IPE faced significant technical challenges and administrators faced a number of obstacles at the institutional level in establishing the course. Based on the findings, recommendations are proposed for educators interested in delivering IPE using the emerging educational technology of MUVEs.