Tag Archive: distance education

Scenario- based learning stages a context, within which learners live and work in their everyday life. It’s based on the concept of situated cognition, which is the idea that knowledge can not be developed and fully understood independent of its context(Randall 2002). Scenario-based learning puts the student in a situation or context and exposes them to issues, challenges and dilemmas and asks them to apply knowledge and practice skills relevant to the situation (www.ucl.ac.uk).

Scenario- based learning has particular advantages for practice- based discipline areas where the experience of practitioners is especially relevant to what constitutes knowledge and understanding in the field. Using scenario-based learning in the field of Healthcare has brought forward many such advantages to learners that count on practical experience in everyday activities.

Let us consider a case where Indira Gandhi National Open University conducted such a scenario-based learning project. 10 academic programs were chosen to be included into this project.

The following frame work was given to develop the scenarios:
1. Define critical competencies for graduates of the program
2. Identify learning outcomes for students in the program
3. Identify learning context and develop suitable learning scenarios that reflect the events in life and work of persons who have acquired these competencies
4. Define learning activities assessable and non assessable tasks.
5. Identify all learning resources and instructional opportunities
6. Identify and define cooperative and collaborative learning opportunities using technologies.
7. Identification and definition of opportunities for feedback and remediation.

Let us study a sample scenario as an example:

Discipline: Civil Engineering

Topic: Structural Analysis

Learning Objectives:

1) To distinguish between static and dynamic loads
2) To conceptualize the influence lines
3) To differentiate between Influence Line Diagram (ILD) and Bending Moment Diagram (BMD)


It was a shining morning of October. All students of your class are in cheerful mood traveling to Roorkee in Jan- Shatabdi Express for educational trip with Prof. Dutta.
Suddenly, you feel a shock as train stops abruptly. While waiting for the train to re- start, it is leant that due to some accident on the bridge ahead, the train will not move at least for next 5 hrs.
Out of curiosity you all move to the accident site with Prof Datta. You observe that there is a lot of distortion of the track and even the rails have gone out of place. While discussing the reasons of track failure, Amit points out the presence of visible cracks in the side beam
of the bridge. Suresh asks Prof. Datta whether the bridge failure is due to excess loading.

In turn, Prof. Datta asks the students, whether they remember different types of loading on the structures. You all start naming the different types of loading, you have seen earlier.

Learning Activity 1:

a) List out the different types of loading on structures.
b) Categorize the above list into static and dynamic loads.

After going through the list, Prof. Dutta asks you that why the live loads are not considered as dynamic load when the movement of goods and human beings are considered in the live load.

Learning Activity 2:

Identify the characteristics of static loads and dynamic loads.

Prof. Datta asks the learners to tie a rope across two poles tightly. He then asks Suresh to hang four bricks at four different places and observe the deflected shape of the rope.

Simulation 1: Prof Datta asks you to remove the three bricks from the rope starting from the right pole and observe the deflection of rope at mid point.

simulation activity

Simulation 2: The he asks to repeat the same exercise by moving the brick at points B, C , D and E subsequently and observe the deflection at mid point each time.

simulation activity

Conclusion: The whole scenario-based learning program was developed to be very challenging and was able to completely immerse the learners into the learning cycle.


Roll back to 1985, when Chip Morningstar and Joseph Romero in designing LucasFilm’s multi-palyer online game Habitat.  This is when the word ‘Avatar’ was coined in its then context. Since then Avatars, Actors and Characters have some terms that describe the virtual representation of the player or user in varied contexts.

In the recent years, a stigma of focused effort has been constituted to establish a social context between the learner and the learning platform (be it any form of learning content).

In simple and practical terms, a Character or Avatar creates a social representation of a real person into a designated role within the learning program. Relating this to the current Healthcare Learning and Educational landscape, the involved persons are majorly Physicians, Students, Clinicians, Academicians and other allied healthcare professionals. Each individual applies to its specific competency role in the industry.

As we speak about the industry specific title, each title is entitled to a role which performs its designated role in a Practice-Based environment. A Practice-Based environment demands only and only Practice in Practical.

The challenge here is how does e-Learning transform learning to be virtual yet practical. How can e-Learning in it’s inorganic matter deliver results similar to that of organic and practical methods.

Avatars play the bridging role here. An Avatar can play various social roles.

Expert/ Instructor/ Coach: Here the character is modeled after an expert or knowledgeable human – most commonly a senior surgeon, professor, training manager/head or expert in the field such as a regulation,etc. Effective use of this role with the help of an Avatar ensures social engagement between the character (Avatar) and the student through a conversational tone, interaction, and feedback.

Learner/ User: An Avatar of learning establishes the emotional presence of the learner into the learning scenario. It simulates the learner’s belongingness within the learning context and situation. An Avatar created with situational and curriculum based contextual engagement allows the emotive mind of the learner to dwell into imaginative and experiential learning.

C0-learners or Peers: Avatars of co-learners or learning buddies create a sense of being accompanied. It helps eliminate the loneness factor of the learner and builds a scope of togetherness into the learning environment.

Immersive e-learning

In the study, We Learn Better Together: Enhancing e-Learning with Emotional Characters (2005) by Heidi Maldonado et al., it is discovered that the presence of a Co-learner resulted in learners performing better. Students with a Co-learner scored significantly higher than students without a Co-learner.

Google has brought many a resourceful applications through Google Labs.

Google Earth is a virtual globe, map and geographical information program that was originally called EarthViewer 3D, and was created by Keyhole, Inc, a company acquired by Google in 2004. The product was re-released as Google Earth in 2005.

Google launched the Google Maps API in June 2005 to allow developers to integrate Google Maps into their websites.

The list goes long with Google books, calendar, news, search, videos, wave and so on.

Last year Google launched its new high-tech 3D product- Google Body. Google Body is a detailed 3D model of the human body. You can peel back anatomical layers, zoom in, and navigate to parts that interest you. Click to identify anatomy, or search for muscles, organs, bones and more.

One can also share the exact scene being viewed by copying and pasting the corresponding URL.

Google Body, which is already available in web form, can now run on Android tablets that use the 3.0 Honeycomb version of Google’s mobile operating system. Using 3D graphics capabilities of the latest tablets such as Motorola’s Xoom, the hardware is now good enough to properly display a 3D-heavy app such as Google Body, which lets you look at your organs, muscles and bones.

It looks like a pretty cool way to explore the human body – just like earth or maps, you can strip away layers (i.e. skin, bones, etc.), rotate it in 3D, and search for body parts before having them highlighted in the app. Teachers are gonna have a gala time giving anatomy classes to students.

Medical Education in the virtual world- A Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) pilot program

Virtual worlds have rapidly become an immersive tool for medical education and training. BMC piloted a post-graduation medical education program in the virtual world. Their objectives were:

1. to explore the potential of a virtual world for delivering CME
2. determine possible instructional designs using Second Life for CME
3. determine the limitations of Second Life for CME
4. measure participant learning outcomes and feedback

The program:

BMC started with an existing BUSM Second Life build that was built earlier as a joint project with WHO. The virtual location was a private island which was later modified to an outdoor with no roof, open walkways and automatic seating.

The Recruits:

To keep the attendance low, 14 physicians were selected for this pilot. Out of 14, 8 were female primary care physicians. Participants resided in different states namely NC, IL, CA, MA, SC, CT, KY. Out of 14, 3 were already experienced in second life and hence remaining 11 were trained on using second life.

The Instructional Design:

Immersive e-learningA 40-minute insulin therapy lecture was created with focus on key concepts, added visual elements, strategic questions (to be answered by chat). Two mock diabetic patients were designed. A backchat was created where every avatar in the immediate vicinity would hear (read as a call-out) the chat.

The session was programed to be conducted on Monday, June 15, 2009 from 7 PM to 8 PM. The session officially ended at 8 PM but participants stayed until 8.30 PM socializing. Overall the program was successful and the objectives were met at the collection of feedback gathered.

Detailed readings at http://www.jmir.org/2010/1/e1/