Simulation Innovation in Cyberspace: A Collaborative Approach to Teaching and Learning in Child and Youth Care Education

  • Nancy Marshall Ryerson University
  • Jennifer Martin Ryerson University
Keywords: Child and Youth Care, digital technology, simulation pedagogy, learner-led approaches, experiential learning, online relational practice


Leveraging digital technology for practice innovation is a compelling challenge. Limited education and training prevent human service practitioners from incorporating technology into practice. Progress in this area will be achieved when significant changes to pedagogy support technology integration with teaching/learning partnerships in higher education. With the recent attention to relational Child and Youth Care (CYC) practice in cyberspace (Martin & Stuart, 2011), this paper aims to highlight student/teacher explorations in this emerging area of clinical practice using student-driven simulated online counselling sessions supervised by the course instructor. Beyond critical learning within the roleplay activities, students engaged in solving disruptions to simulations, which can enhance their future agility in real practice situations (Rooney, Hopwood, Boud, & Kelly, 2015). Foundations in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL), experiential learning theory (ELT), and learner-led (LED) approaches guided student engagement with technology and reflexive practice in this graduate level classroom.

Author Biographies

Nancy Marshall, Ryerson University

Nancy Marshall is a graduate from both the Bachelor and Master of Arts programs in Child and Youth Care at Ryerson University. Dedicated to research in mental health, equity, and inclusion for under-served young people, Nancy is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Education Studies at York University. 

Jennifer Martin, Ryerson University

Dr. Jennifer Martin is Associate Dean in the Faculty of Community Services at Ryerson University.  She has extensive teaching and curriculum development experience in undergraduate and graduate programs with particular foci on child sexual abuse and online sexual exploitation.  Jennifer's research interests include faculty mentorship, student engagement, innovative curriculum design, and the implications of digital technology in teaching/learning and clinical practice.  


Boyer, E. L. (1991). The scholarship of teaching from: Scholarship reconsidered: Priorities of the professoriate. College Teaching, 39(1), 11-13.

Editorial (2015). Trauma, relational safety and the child and youth care approach. Retrieved from

Garfat, T. & Fulcher, L. (2012). Characteristics of a relational child and youth care approach. In T. Garfat & L.C. Fulcher (Eds.). Child & Youth Care in Practice (pp. 5-24). Cape Town, SA: Pretext.

Gharabaghi, K., & Stuart, C. (2013). Right here, right now: Exploring life-space interventions for children and youth. Toronto, ON: Pearson Canada, Inc.

Harris, B., & Birnbaum, R. (2015). Ethical and legal implications on the use of technology in counselling. Clinical Social Work Journal, 43(2), 133-141.

Iversen, A. M., Pedersen, A. S., Krogh, L., & Jensen, A. A. (2015). Learning, leading, and letting go of control: Learner-led approaches in education. Sage Open, 5(4), 1-11.

Kolb, D. A. (2015). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Martin, J., & Stuart, C. (2011). Working with cyberspace in the life-space. Relational Child & Youth Care Practice, 24(1-2), 55-66.

Mishna, F., Bogo, M., Root, J., Sawyer, J. L., & Khoury-Kassabri, M. (2012). “It just crept in”: The digital age and implications for social work practice. Clinical Social Work Journal, 40(3), 277-286.

Mishna, F., Bogo, M., & Sawyer, J. L. (2013). Cyber counseling: Illuminating benefits and challenges. Clinical Social Work Journal, 43(2), 169-178.

McCarthy, M. (2008). The scholarship of teaching and learning in higher education: an overview. The scholarship of teaching and learning in higher education, 6-15.

Powell, D. (2012). Cyber supervision’s time has come. Addiction Professional: Driving Clinical Excellence. Retrieved from

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants part 1. On the horizon, 9(5), 1-6.

Rooney, D., Hopwood, N., Boud, D., & Kelly, M. (2015). The role of simulation in pedagogies of higher education for the health professions: Through a practice-based lens. Vocations and Learning, 8(3), 269-285.

Conference Theme: Students as Innovators