This article focuses on the educational theory underpinning computer-based simulation in professional education. An innovative computer-based physical simulation to facilitate student learning of assessment and palpation skills in midwifery has been developed to prototype stage and preliminary evaluations conducted. The learning experience explicitly builds on the learning and teaching theory—a “conversational framework”—developed by Laurillard.
A template incorporating all the dimensions of the Laurillard framework in the learning experience is presented and discussed. It is argued that this template could have wider application especially in clinically based health science courses.
The case-based learning environment allows the students to solve problems and make valid clinical judgments. Throughout the learning experiences, students effectively examine a pregnant woman while interrelating their experiences with the academic knowledge of the teacher (a world of “descriptions”). The structure for learning relies on a mechanism for identifying and addressing the misunderstandings students initially hold. The creation of situations of cognitive conflict in the student's world of action (Laurillard's concept of intrinsic feedback) is seen as central to the learning experience.
Finally, the article will canvass the issues faced by a project team designing and developing a technology-based educational package around an educational theory.