Kerry-Ann is in a slightly different position from other faculty I have talked to on this project. While she was a teaching faculty member in Nursing, and will likely go back there in the future, for the past 2 years she has been the Simulation (sim) Education Coordinator for the School of Health and Human Services (HHS) at Camosun College. If you don’t know what a sim lab is, see Sim-One Canada for more information.
Kerry-Ann only started working as the Sim coordinator in the fall of 2019, and had just begun developing relationships with her colleagues across HHS when Covid hit, and she mused that “going virtual does not help for developing relationships when you don’t know somebody.” So a survey in the fall of 2020 sent out to program leaders and chairs across HHS, which included follow-up meetings, helped Kerry-Ann to connect with programs and identify how she could support them.”
Kerry-Ann had been exploring virtual sim before COVID, but had a hard time finding faculty to join her in these explorations. Those of us who work supporting faculty in using technologies to support their teaching know that there are always those faculty who are on board before anyone else, those who adopt tools as they need them, those who want to adopt tools but often can’t find the time to learn more about them (I think this category is the majority), and those who don’t want to at all. Last year, everyone had to jump on board in one way or another despite different comfort levels!
“In Fall 2019, my goal was to keep in-person simulations going and deal with various technology installations and setups that still needed to happen as we moved to the new CHW. And then Winter 2020 landed and midway through we went virtual, and we created some new simulations that launched new inter-professional collaborations. But come Fall 2020, in-person simulation was not a possibility, so I started exploring virtual simulation.” Kerry-Ann reflected on Colette Foisy-Doll’s visit to Camosun during the development of the CHW simulation spaces prior to Covid. Colette, a long time simulationist from Alberta said that “in-person simulation was too resource intensive and it would fade away, and that virtual is the future. And now that’s what we’re living – it’s like this fast forward. So now I’ve had to apply the best practices of simulation, design and development, facilitation, and debriefing to a virtual world, and I’m seeing the benefits tremendously.”
Kerry-Ann sees a lot of other rewards coming out of the past year. “People have found smarter ways to work. For example, meetings: at the end of a long day, you can stay home, you’re not rushing in traffic to get there, so there seems to be a larger uptake in meetings and even more engagement in meetings.” And she also notes the increased use of Teams and OneDrive for file sharing, commenting that all of us at Camosun had access to these tools before, but many of us didn’t use them. But now we have had to change how we work together, and wonder why we didn’t use them this before! “You know, the pandemic has shaken things up in a way that is really exciting on some level. I know it’s been hard, but I’ve seen the excitement among faculty trying something new, saying that they never would have done this had the pandemic not happened. They are working harder than ever, but it’s exciting because there are so many new ways to do things now.”
Moving forward, Kerry-Ann says she sees that integrating virtual sim with the in-person sim will have huge benefits. It “gives students the option of doing some virtual sim work before they come in to do the live sim work. And in addition, virtual sim development has helped improve formative assessment in face-to-face experiences.” And Kerry-Ann is excited about the changes in learning and evaluation that can come from this. “So a lesson learned is that the virtual world has helped us think more in terms of assessment for learning, which in a health program like nursing is profound because it has repercussions that go well beyond a student’s program and into their professional career and their ability to contribute to a “just culture in healthcare”.”
One final reflection Kerry-Ann had for me as we talked about moving closer to the end of the pandemic “I think we were all so used to living a life where we looked into the future, so something I would tell myself is to live more day-to-day, and find joy in that day-to-day, because you don’t know what the future’s going to bring.”