THE VIRTUAL EXCHANGE PROJECT
1 The University of Nottingham (UNITED KINGDOM)
2 University of Queensland (AUSTRALIA)
3 The University of Auckland (NEW ZEALAND)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2010 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Page: 1384 (abstract only)
Conference name: 3rd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 15-17 November, 2010
Location: Madrid, Spain
Abstract:The impact of globalization on the infrastructure of healthcare now requires professional groups to have relevant cultural knowledge and skills in order to be able to deliver effective and efficient programmes of care. Whilst direct experiential healthcare learning in a different country is invaluable, technology is now well placed to blend globalization, cultural awareness and collaboration in learning and teaching. The Virtual Exchange Project is a Web-based learning and teaching application designed to bring study-elsewhere experiences into the student’s own setting. Strategically the Virtual Exchange offers opportunities for cross liaison between groups of like-minded academic institutions. This collaboration is between a group of Universities, Nottingham, Queensland and Auckland and their Schools of Nursing. Within higher education the contractual processes for traditional exchange activities have often been located in parallel academic standing and similar curricula processes. Traditional exchanges have focussed on students being in a different environment often abroad, to their usual place of study. The Virtual Exchange does not seek to replace this type of activity. It adds another dimension to studying elsewhere, especially for those students whom for a range of reasons such as family commitments and financial challenges are unable to take up such opportunities. The pedagogical framework for the Virtual Exchange is based on a constructivist approach with a strong collaborative component. Whilst maintaining a balance between collaboration, activity and content, initial activity was facilitated through a light touch using socially mediated enquiry about hobbies and interests with an incremental increase in academic depth of inquiry and curiosity-driven exploration about nursing and other health related issues. Whilst learner guidance and support are imperative for the success of the project, the Virtual Exchange will be student led. A key benefit through this approach is the avoidance of information transfer and associated low motivation and engagement. In addition, the academic team from the participating Institutions have acknowledged the importance of the need for technology to support collaboration in a social environment. WebCT was chosen as its interactive structure offered opportunity for communication, participation and feedback for both staff and students. It is anticipated that evaluation and usability studies will measure the level of success by an assessment of the pedagogical moves to support the students, their encounters with and attitudes towards technology, the cultural context and the related exploratory language and the learning styles used in an online environment.
Keywords: Virtual, learning, nursing.