Toolwire and Leeds Metropolitan University Awarded Gold Medal for Child Protection Experiential Learning Solution

Collaboration earns “External Learning Project of the Year” at The Learning Awards sponsored by the Learning and Performance Institute

Toolwire and Leeds Metropolitan University today announced their receipt of the Gold Medal for “External Learning Project of the Year” at The Learning Awards sponsored by the Learning and Performance Institute, a global institute for learning and development professionals.

This collaboration, originally inspired by the Munro Review of Child Protection (2011), enables students to explore the real life situations, issues and pressures encountered by social workers dealing with child protection cases. The practical and behavioural skills needed to overcome these challenges are hard to teach in a traditional classroom and are typically developed through years of work experience.

The award-winning project enables students to gain such experience through an authentic, photorealistic immersive learning environment known as a Toolwire LearnScape. The Leeds Metropolitan Social Work LearnScape is an interactive, story-based experience replicating real-life child protection scenarios that enables social workers to apply their observation and communication skills. ‘Real-life’ characters guide students through an experience that delivers learning content, assesses progress, and helps students to revisit topics until they are proficient.

“The Munro Review cited that ‘Theory and research are not always well integrated with practice and there is a failure to align what is taught with the realities of contemporary social work practice,’” commented Sarah Frame, Director of Business Development, EMEA at Toolwire. “By combining Toolwire LearnScapes with the high quality content developed by Leeds Metropolitan’s academic staff, we are able to address this issue to develop social workers who are optimally equipped for work on the front line of child protection. Students are under immense pressure to digest and retain complex information, but the stakes are even higher when graduates are asked to apply that knowledge in sensitive real life situations where children’s lives are at stake.”

Professor Sally Glen, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Leeds Metropolitan University, commented, “We are pioneering the use of online Experiential Learning to ensure our students have the highest quality learning experience. It is incredibly beneficial to provide a technology-based solution that students can complete in their own time and without the self-consciousness that can sometimes be apparent in classroom-based role-play. In addition, we are responding to national concerns around the adequate preparation of social workers. In line with the Munro Review, we want our graduates to be properly equipped to deliver child protection in a multi-disciplinary setting. The immersive learning enables students to understand and experience how to work as part of an inter-professional team, which includes police, healthcare and probation officers characters. We believe this greater understanding will produce social workers who are able to work more effectively as part of a multi-agency team.”

John Valencia, Toolwire President and CEO commented, “We are deeply honoured to win this prestigious Learning & Performance Institute award. This new learning tool, which is now available for use by other institutions, exemplifies the power of online Experiential Learning to develop the social worker of tomorrow. Aside from the accolades, it is immensely gratifying to know that our learning solutions are not only helping to strengthen education programmes and enhance student learning, but they also contribute to improving society as a whole by training professionals responsible for protecting the lives of children.”

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