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Role-play gives vocational students valuable work experience

How can you make your vocational training directly applicable to work situations? Anne Brunborg is a nurse by profession and works as a health education teacher at Røyken Upper Secondary School in Norway. To make her nurse training course more practical, she uses itslearning to create a fictional nursing home and uses storyline – a pedagogical method for active learning – to bring life to the teaching.


The project is part of a six-week interdisciplinary process. Her students literally start from scratch as they have to "build" the virtual nursing home with the help of students from the construction course. When the building is finished, the nurse training begins.

In what Anne describes as a long-term advanced role-play, the students are in charge of shaping every aspect of the nursing home. Their teachers provide the framework for the role-play and act as advisors – for example by helping diagnose patients and giving advice on the nursing home’s finances – with the overall goal of creating an engaging learning experience.

"itslearning provides teachers with a unique opportunity to manage, help and assess students during the project," says Anne.

Bringing work to life in itslearning

Even though the nursing home doesn't exist in real life, it comes to life virtually in itslearning. Anne has created a course that serves as an intranet portal for the nursing home – similar to the information channels her students will use in real-life nursing institutions. In itslearning, the aspiring nurses communicate with each other and the teachers, read news, and hand in work requirements – all as part of the role-play.

The use of itslearning makes work-related teaching more realistic, because students are introduced to new roles in itslearning. This gives them more responsibility and increases their awareness about the activities in itslearning.

"The students are allowed to organise, publish and comment on their work. A realistic teaching situation motivates the students and inspires a feeling of relevance that generates engagement," Anne explains.

New methods equal engaged students

Award winner
Anne was one of three winners in the category Creative use of a learning platform in the Share & Use Conference in 2011. She was nominated based on her work with the virtual nursing home. The course is available in the itslearning community (in Norwegian only). Search for "RYVS Heggum Helsetun" (filter on Norwegian courses).
Anne and her students combine digital tools with a range of learning methods – both oral and written – such as mathematics, drawing and role-play. Common core subject teachers are invited into the vocational training via itslearning – and Anne says experience with itslearning may help the students in the future.

"Today we see an increased focus on digital skills – also within the public health service. The use of itslearning provides students with valuable ICT knowledge that prepares them for work life."

A feeling of value

The students experience a sense of value when their work proves useful for their "colleagues" at the nursing home. A survey conducted in itslearning shows that the students appreciate the opportunity to learn from each other. They also like the variety of assignments, responsibility and realistic teaching that can be directly transferred to a real nursing home.

"This way of teaching is transferrable to anyone who can connect their subject to a real profession and real-life situation that students will face after they finish school. Can't we do that in all subjects?" Anne asks.

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