The Hydra simulation suite (HSS) and methodology was developed by Professor Jonathan Crego and have long been used for training and educating police officers and “save-life” organisations in critical incident decision making. This unique learning and teaching environment has historically been confined to police and fire service headquarters with only 6 Hydra suites installed within UK Universities.
In 2007, a HSS was installed at the University of South Wales (formerly the University of Glamorgan) to be used for Police training and education. This environment remained idle for 4 years and was used for the first time in 2011, allowing 50 final year Police Science students to experience a simulated critical incident, a simulation originally designed by the Metropolitan Police Service. Following successful delivery of this exercise, a single technologist continued to help staff from Policing integrate simulation activities into their modules. Project by project, this collaborative mindset filtered into other subject areas across the School, Faculty and University. Now, in 2020, the HSS team consists of 4 simulation technologists, who are primarily employed by the Policing and Security subject area. This small team helps design and conduct immersive simulations for more than 16 subject areas across the University, with more than 1500 students visiting the suite each academic term.
The presentation will detail the growth and use of the suite across HE and FE, including the impact these activities have had on staff and students from these sectors. Consideration will be given to the unique skillsets and experience of the staff currently working in the HSS, how the team designs and conducts simulations and how we have successfully merged technologies provided by the Hydra Foundation and the University to enhance teaching and research activity. Due to the ongoing pandemic, staff within the HSS are currently preparing to modify and deliver simulated content online. How we are planning to do this using University systems and applications will be discussed along with how we plan to address the problems associated with delivering simulated content online. The final part of the presentation will detail future developments in the HSS and the operational challenges the group and University now face.
In summary, the growth and development of the HSS and methodology throughout the University can be attributed to many factors. However, probably the most important factor to date is the utilitarian nature of the roles within the HSS. Since 2011, when Hydra immersive learning was first successfully introduced to undergraduate students, each simulation that has been conducted to date has been fully supported by a Hydra technologist, regardless of subject area and in spite of common barriers known to impede successful collaboration across departments. Allowing technologists to openly collaborate and share best practice with staff across the University, is not only integral to the future of simulated activities conducted within the HSS, but also informs practice in other simulated learning environments throughout the University.
A few related publications/ presentations below.
Jones, C, Kell, C, Whitcombe, D, Spargo, D, Johnson, S, Fisher, S, Menard, H & Parsons, M 2019, ‘Creating spaces to share creativity: nurturing a community of expertise in simulation.’ SRHE Annual Research Conference 2019, Newport, United Kingdom, 11/12/19 – 13/12/19, .
Thomas, L. J., Parsons, M., and Whitcombe, D. (2018). ‘Assessment in Smart Learning Environments: Psychological Factors Affecting Perceived Learning’. Computers in Human Behavior, In Press. DOI: 10.1016/j.chb.2018.11.037.
Clegg, D & Whitcombe, D 2018, ‘The ’Hydrapractic’ Initiative: Innovative and Immersive Learning for Chiropractic Students, Using Police and Emergency Services Training Tools ’ European Chiropractors’ Union Convention, 3/05/18 – 3/05/18.