Learning ICT-Mediated Communication through Computer-Based Simulations

Learning ICT-Mediated Communication through Computer-Based Simulations

Paula Poikela (Lapland University of Applied Sciences, Finland) and Hanna Vuojärvi (University of Lapland, Finland)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9978-6.ch052

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Working life practices in healthcare and social work have undergone significant changes in recent years. Among other things, employees are required to contribute to multi-professional teamwork, make urgent decisions under pressure, attend to their clients’ safety as well as their own, and make clients aware of their rights and the conditions of the services. All these challenges require careful communication (Bradley, 2006; Fryer, 2013; Milligan, 2007), which nowadays is often supported and mediated by information and communication technologies (ICTs). In Finland, the use of State Security Networks Ltd. (called the VIRVE network in Finland) and TErrestrial Trunked RAdio (TETRA) phones is recommended in all health and social care routine communication processes and emergency-rescue situations. This is due to Finland’s geographical location and sparse population.

The VIRVE network is a digital network built specifically for the use of authorities. It was established at the beginning of 2000 according to the pan-European TETRA standards and is currently used in everyday practice and in crises by the armed forces, rescue services, border guards, police, health and social services, as well as some private and government companies that operate closely with the authorities. The Ministry of Transport and Communications provides permits for the use of the VIRVE network. Similar networks are also used in other countries, for example, RAKEL (RAdioKommunikation för Effektiv Ledning) in Sweden, The Airwave Network in Britain, and Astrid (All-round Semi-cellular Trunked Radio communication network with Integrated Dispatching) in Belgium. Even though the TETRA network is mostly used in Europe, it is also spreading rapidly into regions of Asia, the Middle East, and South America. In Finland, the VIRVE network covers the entire Finnish global system for mobile (GSM) communication networks (Fryer, 2013; Poikela, Ruokamo, & Keskitalo, 2013) and assures flawless communication even when the distribution of electricity is interrupted.

The TETRA phone that was used in the study described in this article resembles a traditional GSM phone and actually affords common GSM functionalities, such as phone calls and SMS messages. Its appearance and technology are designed to endure water splashes and cold, and it can be accessed even with gloves on, for example, by firemen. The phone includes basic number buttons, and an additional emergency button and a tangent button that enable fast communication with several recipients simultaneously.

TETRA phones are widely used by authorities due to several benefits they have in communication processes. For example, in healthcare, they can be used for communication in emergency situations and daily working processes, where they enable the flow of patient information among professionals. Both the VIRVE network and TETRA phones have a high level of data security, which enables users to send and receive even confidential information, such as patient information. Wide use of the TETRA technology is also useful for work involving multi-professional teams that use a shared tool for communication. In disaster situations, such as large traffic accidents or rescue situations, TETRA and VIRVE together enable effective and fast communication. The VIRVE network and TETRA phones work even in situations where GSM fails.

Despite the recent development in technologies, there are some gaps that need to be addressed to make communication more fluent and efficient and to establish the wider use of phones in areas of healthcare and social work. Often, these gaps are not so much about technological questions—that is, what types of devices would be most useful—but more about developing human processes and working practices.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Design-Based Research: A practice-oriented research approach that aims to yield theoretical knowledge and practical implications.

Simulation Pedagogy: A developing field of theoretical and pedagogical foundation that guides teaching and learning processes.

ICT-Mediated Communication: Communication between two persons or within a team mediated through one or several digital tools.

Meaningful Learning: A learning process characterized by certain process characteristics.

ISSD Model: A pedagogical model designed for training that combines different kinds of simulations with computer-based simulation training.

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