Teaching and learning via a virtual, fictional community in Blackboard

 
The High Street
A virtual, fictional community used to support and enhance teaching and learning
Summary
High Street is a virtual, fictional community created to support and enhance teaching and learning for students on the BSc Nursing programme at DMU.

Built in a Blackboard (VLE) community shell it provides a space in which teaching staff can create, develop and explore the use of ‘real-world’ scenarios as teaching and learning enhancement tools.

Project Leads
Dr Rob Weale (CELT)
Ruth Rojahn
Dr Abigail Moriarty

DMU Staff – If you are interested in learning more about High Street and/or are interested in developing a similar resource to support your teaching please Email: rweale@dmu.ac.uk

About High Street
High Street is located in the community of Montfort, a small town in the East Midlands. It has a range of services available which include a health centre, a chemist, a small shopping area and a green space which has a playing area for young children. The housing in High Street includes a variety of dwelling types including flats, bungalows and both semi detached and detached housing. High Street is situated to the south of Montfort and has good transport links to the main town including a cycle lane and bus routes. Montfort itself is connected to the East Midlands mainline rail network which gives access to the nearby cities for commuters within the community.

High Street currently includes:

A series of residences in which can be found information about the residents who live there (note: the current resident profiles are all related to Nursing)

residentinfo

These resident profiles can be updated with new information.
(NOTE: The image above carries a public domain license. Image released by Marea Howse.)

There are also several services in the High Street, for example the Health Centre:

healthcentre1

The Health Centre contains a filing cabinet with all of the Medical Records for the residents:
medicalrecords

An example medical record:
record1

Spefic information concerning GP visits and hospitalisation can also be added to the Medical Records for a particular resident. E.g.

GP Visit

Name: John Simpson
Address: 8 Highstreet, Montfort

Reason for attendance
Has been having occasional headaches and ‘rush to head’ feeling. Older brother and father have ‘high blood pressure’. Patient is worried he might have the same.

History of complaint
Has been having headaches and a ‘rush of blood to the head’ like sensation during the course of the day for 1 month now. Otherwise well. No complaints of chest pain or shortness of breath.

Past Medical History
Eczema

Drug History
Acqeous cream

Social History
Lives with partner, young son and 2 step children .
Smokes 20 cigarettes per day. Consumes 6 pints of beer on a Friday.
Does not do regular sports / exercise (see occupation). Admits to enjoying fried food and eating at fast food joints at lunch.

Family History
Father and brother have primary hypertension. Father had myocardial infarction age 68 years.
No other significant history.

Occupational History
Works as a self employed  landscape gardener.

Allergies
Hayfever (usually summertime)

Observations:
Pulse:    90 bpm     Blood pressure:     160/101mmHg        Respiratory rate: 18 bpm

Temperature: 36.5 ̊Celcius

Examination notes
Blood pressure shows hypertension. No abnormalities on cardiac  or respiratory examination.
Nothing else abnormal found.

Investigations
24 hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring

Diagnosis
Possible primary hypertension

Treatment plan
Review patient after 24 hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring.
Refer to nurse for lifestyle advice.
Ask nurse to discuss possible use of ACE inhibitor drug therapy with patient.

NOTE: High Street is currently being used in the Nursing programme at DMU hence all of the content is tailored for Nursing students. High Street can be just as effectively used for other programmes and fields of practice.

The Details
The High Street resource is located in a community shell on Blackboard, as such it is not tied to any particular programme or module (albeit currently it is only being used by Nursing), therefore it can be linked to from any other Blackboard shell (be that a community, programme or module shell).

High Street is also a dynamic resource – meaning that information can be added and updated over time. For example, in March, John – a resident of Number 8 High Street, might visit his GP because of a persistent cough he has had for couple of months. On further investigation it is found that he has lung cancer and throughout the following year, periodic updates as to the progression of his condition will be added to John’s profile on the High Street site. Such dynamic ‘information reveals’ can be directly related to teaching and learning as part of the programme or module.

High Street was intentionally built in Blackboard for some key reasons:

As part of their general teaching practice academic staff at DMU are versed in the basic use of Blackboard for the online delivery of materials to support and enhance teaching and learning. As the High Street ustilises many of the basic Blackboard content creation tools to add, update, and edit content, interaction with the resource was within the technical ‘comfort zone’ of most teaching staff.

This was key because it allowed the Nursing programme team to ‘take ownership’ of the resource. Teaching staff are empowered to create their own resident profiles and add them to the High Street, and to create scenarios around residents that are specific to their teaching and their students’ learning needs. Rather than having an external person or persons (that is persons without any knowledge of Nursing and its pedagogy) manage, administrate, edit, update and generally maintain the site, it allows the programme team to take on these roles without having to undergo any specific ‘new’ training – utilising the High Street is exactly the same process as when utilising their usual Blackboard module shells. Also, any technical or developmental support that is required for High Street can draw on the existing procedures that are in place to support the use of Blackboard.

Following its launch Ruth Rojahn from Nursing at DMU facilitated and oversaw the ongoing implementation of High Street for the Nursing programme. Ruth added a considerable amount of content to High Street and expanded the scope of High Street for teaching and learning. Having a High Street ‘gatekeeper’ as it were, has demonstrated to be an effective way of ensuring that the resource develops in an organised and structured manner. For example, you wouldn’t want a situation where one member of staff suddenly ‘kills off’ a resident, that another member of staff was planning on using to support their teaching for the next month of lectures/seminars.

Since the early days of its launch the gatekeeper role has been reduced such that the High Street is now overseen collectively by the Nursing and Midwifery programme team.

The Future
The vision for High Street is to expand its use across programmes/schools and faculties; to develop a rich teaching and learning resource that offers opportunities for teaching and learning synergy across multiple disciplines and fields of practice. It is hoped that High Street will serve as a catalyst for encouraging and facilitating inter/cross-programme/school/faculty teaching and learning collaboration.
High Street Demo Site
If you would like to be enrolled on a demo version of the High Street to see how it works for real, please email Rob Weale

NOTE: Guests from outside DMU can be given access to the demo High Street site

Acknowledgements
The High Street resource is based on a concept devised by Dr. Abigail Moriarty (Nursing).

The structure and design of the High Street, and its embedding in the Blackboard VLE as a teaching and learning enhancement resource was devised and continues to be developed by Dr. Rob Weale (CELT).

Ongoing development, enhancement of content and operationalising of the resource as an integrated part of the Nursing BSc (Hons) curriculum is a collective process across the Nursing and Midwifery programme.

The development of specific content within High Street, in relation to teaching and learning within particular fields of practice is produced by the BSc (Hons) Nursing programme team.

CELT Case Studies
DMU Staff
If you would like to have your eLearning practices captured and disseminated in a similar case study, please contact your Faculty ELT Project Officer

This Case Study was prepared by:
Rob Weale