Social Work Pilots Kognito Virtual Simulations

9/21 – The School of Social Work recently piloted virtual Kognito simulations in the substance use disorders and addictions class.

In-Home-Parenting-Visit-WEB.jpgKognito is a health simulation company that prepares students to lead real-life conversations with virtual humans. Students enter a virtual environment where they role play conversations with virtual humans who are emotionally responsive. Students learn to lead conversations through practice and personalized feedback.

“I’m very intrigued by experiential learning, and interprofessional teaching is something we do often at UNCW,” Associate Director Noell Rowan said. “I think it’s really the smarter way to teach with interprofessional teams in simulations as a way to prepare and provide more efficient healthcare in the real world once people graduate.”

Social Work uses these simulations to teach practice skills and apply theory to practice. Simulations allow students to engage with clients and learn about evidence-based screening, assessment and brief interventions. They provide an experiential process to apply skills and test students’ ability to engage, establish rapport, screen, assess and practice intervention skills in a virtual environment before performing the skills with human clients.

“I think it’s a really good way of helping the confidence level of a student who is about to go into the field face-to-face,” Rowan said. “Or, it could be before they go on a Zoom telehealth practice session. Some of our students are doing Zoom in their practice agencies because of COVID-19. It can be really scary for our students to greet clients for the first time and remember all the things that we taught them about confidentiality, how to engage and how to establish rapport.”

Dean Charles J. Hardy says of the initiative, "Simulation-based learning is emerging as a promising innovative method for preparing students for the real world, in health and human services. While traditional approaches to clinical education are found in all of our academic programs, our faculty and students are readily embracing technological advances that have expanded our educational frameworks/methods in exciting and effective ways." 

SBI-for-Adol_Emily-WEB.jpgKognito was made possible by a $500,000 grant awarded to the Council on Social Work Education by the Substance Use and Mental Health Services Administration to expand substance use disorder practitioner education in social work. The grant gave the School of Social Work access to SBI with Adolescents, an online solution that helps improve patient-provider communication and supports the integration of substance use screening, brief intervention (SBI) in primary care settings.

“We would like to continue to use Kognito simulations for quite some time because we think it’s a good way to help students learn from a virtual world how to engage, how to assess and how to do a brief intervention that’s evidence-based,” Rowan said.