Australia must do more to develop graduates with the practice-ready skills they need to play an effective role in the workplace. Situational eLearning offers a particular orientation to teaching and learning that privileges a process of direct personal engagement in and observation of practice. Under the rubric of Situational eLearning, the development of knowledge and skills requires a learner to participate in the socio-cultural practices of a particular domain of professional practice. The socio-cultural practices are the shared routines, sensibilities, vocabulary, styles, artefacts, procedures, etc. that constitutes a particular field of practice.
Situational eLearning lends itself to the development of key practice-ready skills, but it is contingent on the availability of authentic clinical experiences. Clinical experiences include such activities as practicums, industry placements, case studies, role play and site visits. Where the practice situation involves dangerous, expensive, temporal and/or sensitive environmental, social and/or technological contexts (which can be often), the direct engagement of students in such situations is becoming increasingly problematic. For example, invasive health procedures, high-technology manufacturing processes, special events, remote mining operations, large construction sites, etc., all represent particular and significant difficulties for a higher education sector facing increased class sizes, tightening occupational health and safety regulations, more specific learning outcome requirements, etc.
Against such a backdrop, the potential for replacing direct student engagement in practice with a simulated clinical experience is apparent. Situational eLearning is being proposed as a generic and entirely scalable vehicle for collaboration across a broad range of stakeholders (including academics, practitioners, industry bodies and students). A range of bespoke situation contexts will be created and deployed using The Situation Engine. Student performance in undertaking situation-specific tasks will be measured and analysed. Stakeholders will negotiate improvements to the situation specification and measurement framework on the basis of the empirical evidence and analytics produced. Once endorsed by the stakeholders, the specification and framework will define a common (national) benchmark for particular practice-ready skills, as well as the means to teach, learn and assess to that benchmark and beyond.
Situational eLearning will enable the key practice-ready academic outcomes for graduates of any disciplinary persuasion to be specified by way of actual circumstances and the essential responses such circumstances dictate.
Support for this project has been provided by the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching. The views in this project do not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching.
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