Activity and activity theory
Redefining the scholarship of virtual patients
Virtual patient operations
Virtual patient actions
Virtual patient objectives
Virtual patients mediating activities
Virtual patient activity contexts
Operations: one approach would be to take the virtual patient as a fixed entity, focusing inquiry on what learners have to do to negotiate the activities and how these operations impact their learning experiences and their outcomes. An alternative approach would be to take the intended operations as fixed to ask what aspects of virtual patient design could afford these desired operations. In both circumstances this could involve quantifying the effort, the resources, or the expertise required, or it could be about describing or explaining them.
Actions: research oriented around this domain could involve exploring the dynamics of the small group work around the virtual patients, such as the discussion and debate amongst each pair as they move through different sub-activities. It could also involve looking at the dependencies and connections between the different virtual patient sub-activities and their contribution to the team-based learning session as a whole.
Objectives: research drawing on this domain could consider the reasons why virtual patient activities were selected for the team-based learning session, including the objectives for each virtual patient sub-activity. Alternatively, it could focus on what objectives are possible or advisable for this kind of activity, and how they relate to the objectives for the team-based learning session and to the curriculum as a whole.
Mediating activities: research from this domain could explore the use of sequencing, pacing, and triggers in virtual patient sub-activities, and the ways in which learning is (or is not) supported by these different components. It could also consider how the activity relates to the real-world equivalents of the cases or situations the virtual patient activities represent. Alternatively, research could investigate how learners learn (or do not learn) from participating in the virtual patient sub-activities, what mechanisms are involved in facilitating their learning, and what effect they have on the quality of the learning outcomes for one or more of the participating small groups.
Activity context: research from this domain could consider the cultural assumptions and norms of the school and programme, and how they relate to the choice and design of the virtual patients and the virtual patient activities in which they are used. It could also involve analyzing the discourses and social dynamics within the virtual patients themselves, such as how the patient is represented or how author, teacher and learner attitudes and assumptions are realized in the conduct of different sub-activities. Alternatively, research could explore how different learners respond to undertaking different roles within a virtual patient activity. It could also consider how participants’ previous experience can change the experiences of participants or change the outcomes of different virtual patient activities.