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  Writing in the Virtual Records Office Design Team

"Virtual Records: An online situated learning environment to assist in the development of professional writing skills"


M Durham
R Pennell
Design Team
  Team: Marsha Durham and Russ Pennell


  Focus: Project/Case Study
  Discipline: Arts & Humanities
  Target: Undergraduate (middle)
  ICT used: Web/CD-ROM hybrid
  Scope: Over several learning sessions

Designer's Summary


The learning design utilises a web-based simulation environment in which a scenario forms the basis of practice for the development of professional writing skills. This learning design is implemented in one of the three modules that comprise the Professional Writing subject .

Students serve as interns in a Web-based organisation and experience the complexity of a realistic professional placement while being exposed to specific writing issues through scripted interviews. Students assume the role of a new staff member who is assigned an investigative task by the Internal Communication Manager, that is, to report on the practicality and value of starting a staff newsletter. The students are required to complete three writing activities in a self-paced, individual manner. The web-based environment simulates a virtual organisation and provides all the resources required by the student to complete the tasks. Peer collaboration is not explicitly supported within the learning design.

The web site is structured according to specific daily tasks. These serve as scaffolds for the students to help them complete the three activities.

Assessment is an integral part of this design as the products students produce from completing the activities are the assessable aspects of this module of the subject.

Rationale for Inclusion


This exemplar has been selected for inclusion for the following reasons:

  • The web-based simulation environment illustrates a novel approach to engage learners in an authentic task.
  • The simulation environment is one that could be implemented in a variety of disciplines.

This learning design has been redeveloped in the form of a generic software tool to facilitate its reuse in other contexts.

Please Cite As:

  Durham, M. & Pennell, R. (2002). Description of Virtual Records: An online situated learning environment to assist in the development of professional writing skills. Retrieved , from Learning Designs Web site:
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