Medical and Healthcare education has relied heavily upon training for practice in the transitional period between science training on campus, and apprenticeship in clinical practice. Students learn to practice safely, before being exposed to the patient. They learn to apply their knowledge: learning reasoning, decision-making, interprofessional skills and patient management.

HI fidelity simulation suites would be ideal training devices but are costly. Collaborative learning such as problem-based (PBL), case-based (CBL), and team-based learning (TBL) has become more common practice. These activities use scenarios and inexpensive technologies to provide interactivity and realism. The most recent and popular of such learning activities is TBL, a high-quality, learner-centered experience, with independent learning, teamwork skills, and feedback through assessment. It is economically viable, with multiple teams in a single room facilitated by a teacher.

Much of this teaching relied heavily on Face-to-Face contact, which is not possible during the COVID-19 pandemic. With TBL, it is impractical with the technology available, to run large numbers of individuals and teams online with one facilitator. Clinical skills training has often been replaced by simple online learning, such as recorded lectures and videos. These resources lack pedagogical richness and learners and staff report ‘digital meeting burnout’. Pedagogically it is a backward step in student engagement and learning.

Nevertheless, the crisis provided an opportunity to introduce more game-oriented exercises which match the changing expectations of generation Z students, who are more motivated by innovative education styles such as decision-based learning. Game-based approaches could even improve on pre-COVID-19 education, that was often locked into traditional hierarchies and group dynamics. Recent evaluation has established the value of a Medical Escape Room, using game-based training to enhance engagement, and to create experiential learning opportunities which mimic the challenges faced by professionals in practice.

Following its needs analysis, the CLUEDUP project proposes to create an innovative online TBL also containing Escape Room elements, to form a Combined Learning Activity (CLA). This CLA, benchmarked against TBL requirements, will be a template which is adaptable to all commonly-used collaborative learning strategies, such as PBL, CBL, and Flipped Classroom.