How virtual babies support students’ work with newborns

What do students have to do when they book a virtual baby?  

When a student books a virtual baby slot, I programme the baby to be ‘awake’ on that date and they receive an email to tell them who they’re caring for. When I say the baby is ‘awake’ it means that the programme is live and so this is when the baby could cry and need attention. I will ensure the student’s name is attached to the programme so that it’s on their report (more on this below), set the times the baby will be ‘awake’ for and choose the difficulty setting – I can’t tell you which I choose and how I decide though!  

The students come to the nursery to check out the baby and take responsibility for ensuring they have all the necessary equipment, including prams, car seats and baby carriers. Depending on the difficulty setting, students can expect to be woken up several times during the night and will need to work out what it is their baby needs. They have different cries for different things but as they only have them for one night they may not get to ‘tune in’ as they would when they’re caring for a real baby. 

What does the results sheet tell the students about their virtual baby experience? 

The report is generated the following morning when the baby is returned to the nursery and plugged back in. The report will give a score for responsiveness expressed as a percentage. It tells us whether the student successfully met the baby’s needs and how quickly. There will also be a rough handling score which deducts points for any incident of rough handling.  

There is a temperature chart to show how warm the baby was and a position chart that shows how long the baby was kept in one position – or indeed if they were placed in the wrong position. The report will tell us all about how the night went; there is no escape!  

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