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Last Updated 10/28/05
Simulation Learning Objects

Simulation Learning Objects and Collaborative E-Learning

Sem Lampotang, David Lizdas

Learning objects (LOs) have been defined in many different and sometimes conflicting ways. In applying LOs to simulation, we focused on three definitions/attributes.

1. A LO is designed to be re-usable/repurposable. Re-usability goes down as content increases and/or is made specific to a particular application, field, or audience. Conversely, keeping a LO small and generic promotes re-use and collaborative e-learning in virtual communities such as the global VAM network (>23,000 registered members on 10/28/05). For an example of re-use of simulation learning objects, see the modified ANZCA anesthesia machine checklist

2. An atomic LO contains the smallest unit of instruction and is autonomous (self-contained). It contains all the modules associated with learning processes such as learning objectives, content, practice and assessment. Metadata are used to describe the content of the LO.

3. A LO separates content (what is inside the LO and is not overtly visible to the user) and format (what the user sees, interacts with and experiences) such that the content can be re-used even when the format changes. For example, Newton's third law of motion (the content) could be taught using different formats such as transparencies, slides, Powerpoint or different simulation modalities.

We applied LO principles to a transparent reality simulation of the 1993 Food and Drug Administration Anesthesia Apparatus Checkout Recommendations and of the ANZCA 2003 checklist. These are checklists that consist of many steps that ensure that an anesthesia machine is functional and safe prior to use on a patient. We implemented each individual step in the 1993 FDA checklist as a simulation LO that is directly accessible via descriptive URLs so that learners who need instruction with only a few steps of the 1993 FDA checklist do not have to go through the entire simulation, which can take as long as 30 minutes to complete. The first few steps of the FDA pre-use check are listed below as an example for those interested in learning objects.

The full set of simulation learning objects for content, practice and assessment for each of the steps in the 1993 FDA checklist has been completed. User registration is required to access the full set of SLOs.

High Pressure System

2. Check oxygen cylinder supply:

a. Verify that at least one backup cylinder is available and check to see that it is at least half full (about 1000 psi) by opening the cylinder valve and verifying that the cylinder pressure gauge goes up. No other cylinders need to be checked.

b. Close the oxygen cylinder valve after checking.

3. Check central pipeline supplies:

Check that hoses are connected and that the pipeline pressure gauges read about 50 psi.

Low-pressure System

5. Perform leak check of low pressure system.

a. Verify that the machine master switch and flow control valves are off.
b. Attach a suction bulb to the common gas outlet.
c. Squeeze the bulb repeatedly until it is fully collapsed.
d. Verify that it stays collapsed for at least 10 seconds (a vacuum cannot be created if there is a significant leak).

e. Open one vaporizer at a time and repeat step c & d (the bulb will initially re-inflate due to the gas that was in the vaporizing chamber).
f. Remove the suction bulb and reconnect the fresh gas flow hose to the common gas outlet.

For those interested in accessing and learning the entire 1993 FDA anesthesia machine pre-use check simulation, VAM registration is required if you are not already a registered VAM user.