Online educational games: The new normal

Chris Merritt, VP, Sales & Marketing
Chris Merritt, VP, Sales & Marketing

The rapid advancements in technology continuously impact our lives on a daily basis and each new week brings a critical update to our attention. These advances and updates impact our computers, smartphones, tablets, TV's, vehicles, thermostats, security systems and fitness wearables just to mention a few on the ever growing list.  In most cases, these technological advances have improved our communications, entertainment, transportation and lifestyle.

This has significantly changed the ways in which we receive and process information such as current events, the daily news, industry updates, association content, medical journals and even our educational materials. You do not need to look any further than a grade-school classroom in which personal tablets have replaced pencil and paper for our youngest generation. This transformation has occurred not because it is the cheapest alternative, in fact this migration can often times be more expensive on the front-end.  

We are changing our educational delivery mechanisms due to improved learner experience, retention and overall knowledge outcomes. A 2008 study by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation reported that a great lecture can improve learning outcomes by 17%, while switching to a different delivery mechanism such as serious gaming can improve learning outcomes by 108%.

Many have acknowledged the explicit need for our healthcare professionals to have a safe environment in which to practice, make mistakes and increase their proficiency in the many critical decisions they make on a daily basis without putting a patient at risk. A 2015 study in The Journal of Clinical Nursing reported in 2015 that, “Finding a new platform to allow all nurses to practice difficult clinical decisions is key. A virtual immersive environment…can provide simulation for nurses to practice making such difficult decisions.”

The evidence is present that these online simulations increase learner engagement and retention while also resulting in improved patient outcomes and a positive impact on healthcare economics. One chronic disease specific online simulation called SiMCare Diabetes has published data which reports: improved glycemic control in patients with A1C >7%, a 60% reduction in the prescription of contraindicated medication and reduced cost by $71 per patient versus those professionals that did not train with the simulation.

Advances in medical education, clinical content, guidelines and standards of care now have a new and improved medium for dissemination. Online training simulations and educational games are continually updated in real-time and given the nature of the platform, content can be rapidly deployed around the globe with the click of a button.

Please keep in mind that the intention of these online educational simulations is not to replace classroom, textbook and lab curriculum. It is suggested that these online tools are used to augment the traditional learning experience and retention levels for healthcare professionals. With that said, online simulated training and educational games in healthcare are already here and are becoming a part of the new normal in professional and continuing education.

Chris Merritt is the vice president of sales and marketing at Vital Simulations, LLC.

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