Introducing RIVRT: An immersive training method for social workers

The training, based on original research, was created by the University of Birmingham with social workers, managers and young people at Sandwell Children’s Trust. Discover more about this innovative method for training social workers and other public-facing service professionals and find out how you can access this unique training package. 

The method

Dr Tarsem Singh Cooner, a qualified social worker and Associate Professor, first learnt about 360-degree filming via desensitisation programs to help people with a fear of heights.

Recognising the potential for translating rich social work interactions into immersive videos, he developed, filmed and added the footage to headsets mimicking the practice of ‘vicarious learning’ common in Social Work training.

The videos became a novel way of disseminating the findings of his recent study, published in Social Work Education, which assesses factors that enable or prevent effective child protection relationships between social workers and families.

Read the study paper

Find out more about Dr Cooner's immersive video work on his YouTube channel

Register your interest to find out more about licensing options for commercial and public sector organisations

Being a professional, I know that sometimes you can find yourself in a situation where you have to learn on your feet. The advantage of this training method is that you can be prepared, because you've already experienced that situation in a safe environment. Being able to 'capture' a situation and present it in an immersive way, when the time is right for your training, is extremely effective.

Dr Tarsem Singh Cooner, Associate Professor of Social Work

The benefits for social work

  • Managers, professionals and students can access current relationship-based research quickly and efficiently across a two-day programme.
  • Learners can reflect on their own behaviour and emotions by experiencing challenging situations in a safe environment.
  • Learners and professionals can focus on what works well, which benefits their individual practice and improves service delivery for families and children.
  • It aids managers with problem-solving and organisation design by encouraging good supervision and management.
  • Staff retention is improved as individuals are able to focus on positive work and their own wellbeing, making it more likely they will remain within the social work profession.

The benefits for other public facing services

  • Any area of human services delivery can benefit from this research delivery and training method.
  • It gives trainees and professionals the chance to engage with immersive, realistic scenarios in a controlled setting.
  • The vicarious learning method allows trainees and professionals to learn from both positive and negative practice examples.
  • Trainees can control how and when they access the video material, learn and reflect in their own time and re-watch clips as needed.

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