Episode 43: Virtual Reality - The Next Step of Caseworker Training

Date: November 2019

To say you know something is totally different than your ability to do something in and what we are starting to get into here is testing the ability to do something. -Matt Davis, research associate professor, University of Utah College of Social Work 

The need for training continues across child welfare, but students and new caseworkers still can benefit from practicing the skills required for casework after their classroom sessions have ended. This episode discusses a virtual reality-based home visiting training currently being used by the university's B.S.W. students Virtual Home Simulation (VHS) which was developed by the University of Utah College of Social Work in partnership with the university's games and applications lab. While other online trainings exist, the developers of the VHS training point to the following features that set it apart from other simulation-based trainings: 

  • Develops skills on identifying both risk and protective factors
  • Provides a 360-degree view of a home
  • Includes detailed user tracking to monitor students’ progress and skills development
  • Uses an algorithm that incorporates expert jurisdiction-specific feedback to coach students on how expert home visitors would perform

The following individuals are featured in this episode: 

Topics discussed include the following:

  • How Utah’s Department of Children and Family Services consulted on the curricula and development
  • The application of multimedia learning and direct practice learning theories within VHS
  • Why realistic photos are preferred over animation in home visiting simulations
  • Using collective wisdom over stressing “correct answers”
  • Initial results of VHS, as reported by the university
  • The future of virtual reality training for caseworkers

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