Nursing School Virtual Classroom Project

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The School of Nursing (SON) at VCU has partnered with the School of World Studies (SWS) in a collaborative venture to develop a rich, online, hybrid language-training program focused on health‐related Spanish‐English communication for students of nursing and other health related fields. The course uses Teletandem to provide students with real opportunities for language immersion and practice. VCU RamPages is also being used to provide powerful blogging tools to document and share learning experiences—through images, video, screen captures, and relevant links. Both Teletandem and RamPages will serve as the building blocks for developing language and cultural competence within an online hybrid curriculum designed to accelerate the acquisition of fluency skills. The primary goals of the project are: 

  • To improve the language and cultural competency skills of VCU health professional students
  • To directly connect VCU health students with their learning peers from international partner schools
  • To fill the growing need for Spanish‐speaking healthcare providers in the U.S.
  • To build robust online global learning communities
  • To promote VCU’s name and brand throughout Latin America, and at our partner school in Córdoba, Spain 
The SON‐SWS virtual global classroom project was delivered as a 2‐credit online hybrid format to provide students with the most dynamic range of learning activities possible. The program was comprised of three parts:
  1. 12 hours of specialized Spanish language training delivered online
  2. Two 90‐minute face‐to‐face classroom meetings 
  3. Twelve 90‐minute Teletandem sessions conducted weekly in the World Studies Media Center (WSMC).

The course was offered as LGCC 405, Language and Cultural Competence for Healthcare Providers, a UUCC‐approved SWS course with the following description: “Continuous courses; 2 lecture hours. 2‐2‐2 credits. Prerequisite: permission of instructor. Completion of LGCC 405 to enroll in LGCC 406. Completion of LGCC 406 to enroll in LGCC 407. Open only to students enrolled in health care programs such as nursing, medicine, allied health, pharmacy, dentistry, or healthcare practitioners. A survey of the changing demographics of patients in healthcare and the language and cultural skills required to provide adequate healthcare services. The communication focus includes basic structures and medical terminology used during assessments and phrases commonly used during physical examinations. These courses cannot be used to fulfill requirements for the Spanish major or minor, nor can they fulfill the general education language requirement."

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The project participants strove to make LGCC 405 more accessible, convenient, and appealing to healthcare students. The mission was to tailor the content, setting, and delivery to the specific needs of VCU healthcare students. The course was officially offered by the School of World Studies, but the students came from SON and other healthcare programs at VCU.

The online language training was provided by SWS Assistant Professor Anita Nadal through Blackboard. Ms. Nadal has over 10 years of experience teaching Spanish for healthcare professionals. She worked with the PI and the co‐PI to revise the curriculum for online delivery. Ms. Maria de Panbehchi, the Teletandem coordinator, oversaw cooperation, lab scheduling, and student pairing. The Teletandem facilitator Mr. J. Greg Hellman, a formidable expert in the design and setup of virtual classroom activities, worked with SON IT staff to devise an optimal plan for technical programming. WSMC Instructional Technology Specialist Paula de Carvalho guided the students in their building of RamPages weblogs as they progressed through the course. The RamPages blogs gave the students an opportunity to document their language and cross‐cultural learning experiences. The sites were intended to serve as a virtual repository of knowledge, skills and information learned in this course.