UQ Pharmacy launches virtual learning
A new take on an old problem: how to learn pharmaceutical calculations
The UQ School of Pharmacy is amongst a select group of international universities working in collaboration to develop innovative online pharmacy learning resources in a virtual world.
On Tuesday March 22, UQ School of Pharmacy academics Jacqueline Bond and Sally Firth, and fourth year honours student Helender Singh, launched the 3D “Pharmatopia” to an excited group of first year pharmacy students in one of their pharmaceutical calculations lectures.
Pharmatopia is a virtual island, developed by project leader Monash University, that exists within the online “Second Life” platform.The “land” is divided into 4 zones, each with specific teaching and learning objectives. These include the Manufacturing Zone, Clinical Zone, Community Zone and Industrial Zone.
The University of Queensland’s contribution to Pharmatopia is a virtual compounding dispensary located in the manufacturing zone. According to Jacqueline Bond, “This resource allows students to practice pharmaceutical calculations required for the compounding process”.
Calculations are presented as prescriptions from virtual patients, phone enquiries or ‘chats’ with virtual nurses, doctors and patients. Students select the required ingredients from an extensive selection of drugs and raw materials and measure out the correct amount or provide other dosage related data as prompted.
“It’s a much more fun way to learn calculations than the way we were traditionally taught and it’s been a very exciting project to develop. ” Ms Bond said.
Honours student, Ms Helender Singh has been conducting an evaluation of Pharmatopia as part of her Honours project. “One of the real strengths of the UQ Pharmatopia compounding laboratory is that students can work in whatever location they choose. Whether this is in the classroom, library or home, students can complete as many exercises as they want in a safe, anonymous and non-judgemental environment.” Ms Singh said.
The virtual environment provides real-time feedback on a student’s progress, and allows students to practice an exercise many times without consuming actual resources, occupying laboratory space or needing the guidance of a tutor.
The online platform also allows for communication between students within the virtual environment, providing an opportunity to work together to solve problems.
The Pharmatopia project brings together expertise from each of the collaborators in a shared practice model, in which each university builds a teaching module on the virtual world, and then shares it with the rest of the Pharmatopia community.
- Monash University, Australia
- University of Sydney, Australia
- University of London, UK
- Nottingham University, UK
- University of Keele, UK
- Uppsala University, Sweden
- University of Copenhagen, Denmark
- University of North Carolina, USA
- University of Kansas, USA
Dr Sally Firth said “The project is currently in its Beta phase, and will continue to expand as new practice environments are added, but it seems that the sky is the limit for this revolutionary new learning model”.