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"Big Sister" to enhance learning

Published: 15 April 2008

New Semantic Web technology which will enable more effective teaching in hospital scenarios is being developed at the University of Southampton.

Dr Mark Weal at the University's School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) is designing a software solution which will make it possible for nursing students to receive annotated video-captured feedback immediately after their participation in simulated practice events.

The project, known locally as "Big Sister", looks at using semantic annotation to enhance skills-based learning for healthcare.

"From the student perspective, one of the most important components of simulation is the quality of feedback on their performance," said Dr Weal. "Practical considerations limit the potential use of video in debriefing students immediately after simulation. It may only be possible to video replay the whole simulation or skip to segments of interest, requiring the facilitator to have a near perfect memory of events."

Professor David De Roure at ECS and his team in conjunction with colleagues in the School of Nursing and Midwifery are using Semantic Web technologies to annotate video in real time for rapid editing and playback so that educationalists can click on areas of interest and annotate relevant sections with text and "bookmarking".

The project is based around scenario-driven skills-based learning in hospital ward simulations located within teaching facilities. Students participate in simulator-based scenarios in groups of three or four and are presented with a patient with a range of symptoms which require them to perform as they would in a hospital environment. Each scenario session is followed by a debriefing session involving the participating students, the observers and the mentors who facilitated the session.

"The aims of this project are to take this existing setup and through the use of semantic annotation augment the learning process to provide more focused debriefing and better personal reflection by the students of the process they have been through," said Dr Weal. "It will also provide a rich source of information to inform the teaching practices of the mentor involved."

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