Implement Online Immersive Technologies to Gain Real-World Experience

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College students, especially those intending to enter the health field, need to be able to engage in skills such as authentic problem-solving, reasoned decision-making, and effectively communicating with others. Immersive technologies in which users dynamically interact with objects in a virtual environment are being incorporated in educational settings to support these skills (Johnson, Adams, & Cummins, 2012). Through these interactions, students receive ‘just in time’ support and instant feedback about performance (Meggs, Greer, & Collins, 2011).

Link to example artifact(s)

  • Instructor: Dr. Linda Gibson-Young, Assistant Professor, College of Nursing, UCF
  • Course Title: NGR 5003: Advanced Health Assessment and Diagnostic Reasoning

In this course, there are 30 mandatory hours in a face-to-face laboratory allowing independent practice of assessment skills. This limited time has validated the need for more intensive instruction in the online environment to ensure students accurately learn advanced health assessment skills and diagnostic reasoning techniques.

The use of a virtual clinical patient experience web-based technology was implemented as an innovative teaching strategy. While the student interacts with a virtual patient, they are gaining clinical experience such as documenting health history and exam findings, improving communication skills, developing reasoning skills, and practicing safety in a risk-free environment. To meet the virtual patient, please visit:

In a recent study of 44 MSN nurse practitioner students, Dr. Gibson-Young identified three themes after students used the digital clinical experience: 1. Students increased in comprehensive understanding of content 2. Improvement in clinical practice, specifically in questioning/ collecting history 3. Enhanced feedback with documentation No significant relationships existed between learning styles and student performance with the History, HEENT, or GI DCE modules. Additionally, Dr. Gibson-Young found that students worked with the virtual patient throughout the semester without prompting and outside of required activities. The activity fostered a comprehensive understanding of the course content, and helped students practice collection of patient history, along with documenting feedback. Both faculty and student perceptions were higher with use of the virtual patient.

By incorporating this innovative teaching strategy, educators promote interventions that facilitate impactful teaching in online environments. The use of this immersive experience with a digital standardized patient will add strength and substance to this course and can be successfully utilized by all students, due the finding of no significant difference among the learning styles.

Link to scholarly reference(s)

Johnson, L., Adams, S., & Cummins, M. (2012). NMC Horizon Report: 2012 K-12 Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Meggs, S.M., Greer, A.G., & Collins, S. (2011). Integrating Second Life as a pedagogical tool for interactive instruction. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 7(3), 380-392.


deNoyelles, A. (2014). Implement online immersive technologies to gain real-world experience. In B. Chen & K. Thompson (Eds.), Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository. Orlando, FL: University of Central Florida Center for Distributed Learning.

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