Social Work Majors Put New Simulation Technology to Use

Social Work simulation technology
Owl camera view of a simulation

One of the hallmarks of GMercyU’s Bachelor of Social Work program is its unique phased structure of simulations, designed to grow students’ client-facing skills in a low-pressure environment that builds confidence. Sophomores engage in social work role-playing in the classroom, juniors participate in group simulations, and seniors engage in 1:1 simulations to complement their capstone field placements.

This spring, juniors and seniors began using a new Owl Labs Meeting Camera, a 360-degree camera that captures everyone in a room. This new piece of technology automatically focuses in on whoever is speaking and allows students to record their simulations so they can later debrief and offer each other feedback. Social Work faculty also use the recordings to grade simulations and provide feedback.

“The camera mirrors us so we can see what skills we need to work on and what skills we excelled at. It’s a great learning opportunity,” said Social Work major Shykera Bordley ’24.

The technology was purchased last fall thanks to the President’s Excellence Fund Mini-Grant Program; students began using it in the classroom this spring.

Owl Meeting Camera“With this technology, we can see our students’ faces and body language, see if they’re modeling the ‘S.O.L.E.R.’ model for active listening,” said Wade Luquet, PhD, Social Work Program Director and Professor, who co-wrote the grant with Megan Mustachio, MSN, RN, WCC, CHSE, GMercyU Nursing Instructor and Simulation Faculty/Coordinator.

“Are they leaning in, making eye contact, not staring too intently? As a social worker, you’ll meet thousands of people for the first time over the course of your career. It helps to be an extrovert, but you can be an introvert and be a social worker – you just need the right engagement and counseling skills. Most people don’t realize that social work provides 70% of the mental health services given nationwide. This is why we offer simulations at the bachelor’s level, which is unique to our program,” Dr. Luquet said.


Learning from Experts in the Field

And, while many schools will hire actors for role-playing exercises, GMercyU’s BSW simulations feature real experts in the field of social work – either GMercyU alumni or the program’s professional contacts.

GMercyU alumna Emily Dooner, MBA, ’17 ’18, who works at Active Day: Adult Day Services, recently assumed the role of a hospice client in a simulation. Melissa R. Dziedzic '10, MSW, a field director for a local Master of Social Work program, brought her new baby to a simulation to assume the role of a single mother. GMercyU Psychology professor, John Gunn, PhD (shown in the top photo) has also participated in simulations.

“After the simulations, students will reconvene back in the classroom, where the expert will offer their professional advice. This gives our students a more meaningful experience,” Dr. Luquet said.