Technology for Teaching Professionalism

  • Date: Wednesday 19 October 2016
  • Speaker: David Williamson Shaffer Vilas, Distinguished Achievement Professor of Learning Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Educational games and other virtual worlds are powerful environments for learning because they can give students an opportunity to connect knowledge and skills, and to use what they know and what they can do to make decisions in the face of uncertainty.

In this talk David Williamson Shaffer Vilas, Distinguished Achievement Professor of Learning Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will look at how immersive virtual worlds can be used to develop and assess professional ways of thinking. The talk will look at recent developments in the science of Virtual Internships in order to open up a discussion around the feasibility and suitability of these systems for professional courses.

Virtual Internships are immersive simulations of professional practice that let students learn to solve real-world problems by role playing as practitioners in fictitious but realistic settings. The Virtual Internship system includes a Virtual Internship Authoring tool (VIA) that lets teachers customize scenarios for their classroom, or develop simulations that teach professional problem solving in any domain. Virtual internships use a learning analytics tool, Epistemic Network Analysis (ENA), to measure in real time the complex thinking skills students develop as virtual interns. This information is used by human mentors and teachers to support student work through automated suggestions for mentoring actions.

The Virtual Internship system is thus an example of how immersive environments function as a learning system that includes assessment, feedback, reflection, and adaptation.