• Developing a Web 2.0 technology for hazard response simulation

      Miller, Servel; France, Derek; University of Chester (Higher Education Academy, 2012)
      Students studying disaster/hazard management in UK Higher Education institutions (HEi's) traditionally focus on hazard mapping and process analysis, but have limited opportunities to develop their risk communication skills which are required during emergency response situations. These skills are vital for the real world and employment. Opportunities to develop risk communication skills are not readily available to students during their studies as employers are reluctant to offer placements due to legal barriers. Therefore, universities have to develop tools to provide students with this vital ‘real-world’ experience. Over the last two years, the department of Geography & Development Studies at the University of Chester has begun to explore and evaluate the role of the Web 2.0 tool, Yammer (microblogging/communication tool) for natural hazard (volcano) simulation exercises. This paper highlights the continuing development of the natural hazard simulation exercise through input from external emergency/contingency practitioners locally and internationally to enhance its usability. Input from practitioners has resulted in the adaptation of the tool to flooding hazard emergency response and to other geographically based scenarios (e.g. crime analysis). The input from professionals in the field has enhanced the quality of the exercise/tool as well as providing students with vital employability skills currently used in the workplace of hazard management. Feedback from students highlighted their feeling of a ‘real-life’ pressure situation in which ‘real-time’ decisions have to be made in response to a rapidly changing environment. At the same time they indicated that their experience was stimulating, fun, innovative and enabled networking and interactive opportunities between tutors and students. The development of the Web 2.0 simulation tool through contributions from practitioners and an assessment as to whether the use of such technologies enhances student-learning experience is the focus of this paper.