Case study

Virtual Practice Learning at Canterbury Christ Church University

24 Feb 2023

Canterbury Christ Church University developed Virtual Practice Learning (VPL) in response to placement restrictions during the pandemic. VPL is accessed remotely by students and consists of weekly experiences focused on aspects of health and social care identified within the NHS Long Term Plan.

During the VPL students access a range on online resources, complete practice activities and meet with practitioners, organisations and patient groups. VPL experiences so far have focused on learning disabilities and autism; mental health awareness; health promotion and social prescribing; and inclusivity in health and social care.

Students are supported by lecturers who introduce the experience to clarify learning outcomes and expectations, facilitate live sessions, and present a review session. Students submit a reflection identifying how the experience has impacted on their future practice. Student evaluations indicate appreciation of hearing from specialist practitioners that they have limited access to on placement, who not only shared their expertise but also their career pathways. The students valued dedicated time to speak with experts by experience who provided insight into how they could improve their nursing practice.

The flexibility of VPL with the ability to return to resources and recordings of live sessions meets the needs of a wide range of learners and we can expose the students to practitioners that reflected the demographic of our student base. Students frequently state that VPL enhances digital literacy and increases confidence communicating on different platforms. Feedback from students and external participants has influenced the ongoing development of VPL which is now embedded within the course as simulation hours.