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Dr. Hanni Flaherty Publishes Article About Using Technology to Enhance Experiential Learning

Hanni Flaherty , Assistant Professor, Wurzweiler School of Social Work Dr. Hanni Flaherty

Dr. Hanni Flaherty, assistant professor and associate director of curricular and pedagogical innovation at the Wurzweiler School of Social Work, published “Teaching Note—Using Technology to Enhance Experiential Learning Through Simulated Role Plays” in Journal of Social Work Education (May 5, 2022).

Here is the abstract of the paper:

Practitioners are required to have both practice knowledge of theoretical approaches and professional competence and skills. For student social workers, acquiring the former has been traditionally associated with academic teaching. With practice placement learning, the latter has required unique consideration with the incorporation of the online learning platform, which has been escalated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We suggest that there is a role for simulation-based education to link knowledge and skills, with technology offering improved facilities to provide opportunities to learn for practice. In this teaching note, we discuss how we integrated Eleos Health, a new technology, into the classroom that allowed students to apply and practice their newly learned skills through simulated role-plays under the professor's guided supervision.

In the paper, she describes how, in response to COVID-19, Wurzweiler “began to imagine ways to integrate innovative technologies into its online and hybrid curriculums to supplement students’ experiential learning.” To do this, Wurzweiler partnered with Eleos Health, which Dr. Flaherty characterized as “a platform for Care Intelligence for behavioral health,” to launch an educational tool “to help students develop practice skills, such as assessment, engagement, and intervention skills.”

Through this new technology, “students could engage in a technology-assisted simulated teletherapy role play scenario that was then evaluated in a technology-assisted process recording through this new technology. The student and professor could comment on the clinical dialog, furthering the student’s experiential learning in an online platform.” Students created the teletherapy role plays and then analyzed and evaluated their skills through the Eleos Care Intelligence solution: “the student and professor were then able to review both video and voice recordings and gave valuable feedback on the student’s mock session.”

The article describes an assignment given to students in a Clinical Practice hybrid class that included a 30- to 45-minute role play as both the provider and the client. The role play was then uploaded into the Eleos Health system and returned with diagnostics within 48 hours. There was also an accompanying paper assignment.

In the discussion section of the paper, Dr. Flaherty notes that “the students received the integration of the technology very well, reporting that it immensely supplemented learning in the classroom. Students reported that the opportunity to receive both automated feedback from the platform as well as nuanced and adapted feedback from their professor allowed them to safely practice the skills learned in class and critically reflect on their clinical work.” She also observed that “the digital stimulation allowed the students to apply empathy, assessment, diagnosis, and intervention skills. As these simulations were recorded, students could critically analyze their work and improve without risking a client’s well-being.”

Based on the findings in her paper, Dr. Flaherty concluded that “Eleos offered a unique opportunity to augment the learning from digital, simulated role plays; was reported on favorably by the students; and was easy to use for both students and faculty.” She encouraged educators “to become comfortable with integrating technology and see it as a tool for enhancing students’ education and not as a hurdle to overcome.”


NOTE: Proudly, Wurzweiler was the first American University/Social work school to adopt the novel Eleos Health solution, demonstrating its technology forward leadership in the educational and clinic spheres. Eleos Health was introduced to Wurzweiler and the Yeshiva University ecosystem by Maccabee Ventures. Maccabee Ventures is an early-stage venture capital fund, founded by two Yeshiva University Alumni. Maccabee’s investment in Eleos Health and introduction of Eleos to Wurzweiler is part of the core mission of the fund (i.e., to actively assist emerging companies in achieving market penetration, growth and scale by leveraging, harnessing and amplifying the 70,000+ well positioned alumni, faculty and academic strengths and energetic students of Yeshiva University).

Maccabee Ventures’ areas of focus include SilverTech®/Digital Health, Enterprise/B2B (SaaS), FinTech, PropTech, Cybersecurity and Converging Technologies (Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Natural Language Processing).

Maccabee Ventures is part of the virtuous flywheel that is now a hallmark of Yeshiva University’s vibrant Strategy and Entrepreneurship model, which includes coursework and experiential learning such as Maccabee Ventures and the Innovation Lab.

Maccabee Ventures looks forward to additional collaborations with YU’s real estate, health care, and finance affinity groups and alumni, strengthening, growing and giving value to the ecosystem.