Remote learning in any course comes with its own set of challenges, but for traditional hands-on learning activities, like nursing practicum, recreating lessons in a virtual environment can be particularly daunting. The nursing faculty at the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville came up with a unique way to engage practical nursing students in online simulation with an innovative twist.
PN faculty members Ashley Ball and Amanda Cannon along with Marietta Candler, nursing and allied health division chair, created a virtual escape room that required students to apply skills and knowledge they have learned in order to progress through each level of the exercise. Faculty used Blackboard Collaborate to create and conduct the virtual escape room simulation.
In order to begin the virtual simulation, students had to discover the combination to “unlock” the room. They were presented with a series of nursing pharmacology math problems. The combined answers of all the problems was the combination needed to unlock the escape room. Once inside, they would be able to view an image of a simulation mannequin representing their patient in a room just as they would in a real-life simulation scenario. One of the rooms included a set of orders, the medication administration record (MAR), vital signs and labs. Students were required to find everything wrong with the scenario before they could progress to the next room.
“They can ask for hints but not until they have been in the room for 15 minutes,” Ball said. “Once they find everything that is incorrect in the room, they will unlock the next room. This continues through five to six rooms and then we end the scenario. So it's basically like an unfolding simulation and a mystery combined. We thought it would be a really fun way to challenge them to pull out all the tools in their knowledge arsenal.”
Makenzie Gipson said she felt the exercise will help prepare her for real-life scenarios she will experience as a nurse. “I loved the escape rooms! I love how we have to get all the things that are ‘wrong’ from the pictures to continue on to the next slide. I think it will help prepare me during shift reports,” she said. Natalie Corona agreed, saying the activity was “fun, exciting, and a great learning experience.” Cheyanne Marshall said, “I love it! It helps me learn so much, and it’s fun! All from the comfort of my pajamas.”
Students worked together in groups of five or six in the online environment to complete the activity. Ball said it took groups 3-4 hours to complete the exercise.
“Instead of a computer program, we can work as a group to solve problems in real time, and get instant feedback,” said student Amy Kreutzer.
“The faculty have surpassed my expectations of clinical replacement in a remote learning environment,” said Candler. “It has been exciting to watch the students interact and think critically through each escape room. I am very proud of all the nursing and allied health faculty and their willingness to adapt and overcome during this time of adjustment.”