Leeds Metropolitan decided to collaborate with Toolwire in response to the Munro Review of Child Protection, published in 2011. That report found child protection efforts often were undermined by the lack of a coherent strategy and poor communication between local agencies such as health providers, social care providers and police – involved in child protection. The practical and behavioural skills needed to overcome these challenges are hard to teach in a traditional classroom or e-learning environment, but can be developed through work experience. Toolwires Immersive Learning Environments give students the opportunity to gain such experience in an authentic, virtual environment.
Professor Sally Glen, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Leeds Metropolitan University, comments, We are pioneering the use of online Experiential Learning to ensure our students have the highest quality learning experience. It is incredibly beneficial to provide a technology based solution that students can complete in their own time and without the self-consciousness that can sometimes be apparent in classroom-based role-play. In addition, we are responding to national concerns around the adequate preparation of social workers. In line with the Munro Review, we want our graduates to be properly equipped to deliver child protection in a multi-disciplinary setting. The immersive learning enables students to understand and experience how to work as part of an inter-professional team. For example there are police, healthcare and probation officers characters within this Toolwire Learnscape for Social Work training. We believe this greater understanding will deliver social workers who are able to work more effectively as part of a multi-agency team.
The learning solution was designed to engage students with photorealistic, virtual environments that combine video interaction and real world context. It replicates real-life child protection scenarios with real world decisions and implications to help students develop the skills and knowledge to deal sensitively with child protection cases. Real-life characters guide students through an experience that delivers learning content, assesses progress and helps students to revisit topics until they are proficient. Contextually sensitive assessments are also integrated naturally into the flow of the storyline, so the students experience an authentic virtual world.
Sarah Frame, Director of Business Development, EMEA at Toolwire, adds, Leeds Metropolitan have taken a bold step by investing in this online experiential training solution, but they have recognised the potential return on investment through further commercialisation of their intellectual property. The Munro Review commented that Theory and research are not always well integrated with practice and there is a failure to align what is taught with the realities of contemporary social work practice. By combining Toolwire Learnscapes with the high quality content developed by their academic staff at Leeds Metropolitan University, we are able to address this issue and help to develop social workers who are optimally equipped for work on the front line of child protection. Students are under immense pressure to digest and retain complex information, but the stakes are even higher when graduates are asked to apply that knowledge into such a sensitive and emotive real life environment, where childrens lives potentially are at stake. This particular solution assists the social worker of tomorrow in becoming familiar with unfamiliar situations, in which they will need to work. We are delighted to work with the team at Leeds Metropolitan and hope this is the start of a much broader relationship with the University.