Building 'Riverbend': An Interdisciplinary Virtual Fieldsite for Training Social Science Practitioners

By:
Dr Lesley Jolly,
Dr. Julie van den Eynde
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There are logistical and ethical dilemmas inherent in training students in the human sciences. How are they to be given experience in the realities of practice without putting communities and individuals at risk? Problem-based Learning (PBL) pedagogies are often recommended in such situations in order to teach students to deal with ill-defined near-reality situations put before them in the classroom. This is most commonly done by providing students with paper-based descriptions of the kind of situation they may be expected to deal with in practice, and then teaching them how to work through problem definition, exploration and resolution. But paper-based descriptions of social issues, no matter how well written, are still quite different from the real thing and can become boring to students. They also often fail to capture the full complexity of social issues in all their interrelatedness. We have attempted to address these hindrances to effective PBL in our interdisciplinary program through the development of a virtual town called Riverbend which can be visited from any computer. In this paper we describe the unexpected way in which the site enhances interdisciplinarity in our curriculum planning and how students have responded to various iterations of the site.


Keywords: e-social sciences, Online Learning and Curriculum, Interdisciplinarity, Student engagement
Stream: Technology in Education
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Building 'Riverbend'


Dr Lesley Jolly

Lecturer, Behavioural Studies
School of Social Work and Applied Human Sciences, University of Queensland

Australia


Dr. Julie van den Eynde

Lecturer, Behavioural Studies
School of Social Worka nd Applied Human Sciences, University of Queensland

Australia


Ref: T06P0095