A Virtual Exploration of Social Work

The Wurzweiler School of Social Work is committed to connecting passion to purpose by training social workers who can navigate modern obstacles and complex systems with the ultimate goal of healing a fractured world. That's why we've built "The Heights," a dynamic virtual environment that provides a rare opportunity for students to learn from inside the context, to engage critical scenarios and to "see" communities through new lenses.

The Heights: A Virtual Learning Environment

From our Students

“One of the best aspects of the learning environment is the virtual neighborhood, The Heights, The Heights presents realistic characters and scenarios that bring the social work concepts and theories to life.” - Jessica VanWyngaarden, MSW 2021

Navigating "The Heights"

"The Heights" is the name of both our interactive, virtual learning tool and the fictional community depicted within it. This community includes maps of urban, metropolitan, suburban and rural areas, which represent the various types of communities that the social workers who train in our online program support. We understand that trying to devise a transportation option for a client in New York City is very different from doing so for a client living in a rural area, and we intend for our students to be proficient at both. Thus while the Wurzweiler School itself is in the heart of a dense urban area, "The Heights" provides our online MSW students with the ability to experience these various environments so that they will be able to operate in any community upon their graduation.

Here's how you will navigate the virtual environs of "The Heights" and access the various activities and assignments that operate through it:


Demographic Lenses

As students engage the interactive map, they have the ability to turn on different "lenses" which allow them to view all or part of "The Heights" through specific perspectives. These different ways of looking at this virtual community mirror the way in which social workers must keep track of certain aspects of the communities they serve in order to do their job.

  • Available demographic lenses include household income, racial and ethnic groups, age, education level, crime rate, and more
  • By quickly toggling between the available lenses, you can customize the virtual environment according to individual course assignments or learning objectives
  • Select courses throughout the online MSW program will direct you to activate specific lenses within a particular region and use the resulting insight to either complete an assignment or better connect with the current course topic(s)

Points of Interest

Color-coded points of interest throughout "The Heights" direct you to critical community features, including schools, health and wellness provisions, public services, food, transportation, community centers, and more. These both create crucial context in which you can practice making professional decisions and serve as information centers for course content.

  • You may toggle points of interest on and off throughout the map, allowing you to scan broad areas of the virtual community for specific features
  • You can also search for points of interest throughout the map either by keyword ("school," "hospital," etc.) or by a unique location ID provided by your instructor, which allows faculty to dynamically customize "The Heights" to suit specific course material
  • Outside of assignments, you may visit points of interest to explore case studies relevant to various roles within the social work field, or to listen to real-world professional and academic presentations delivered in conference or lecture settings

Case Management Scenarios

The points of interest throughout "The Heights" serve as jumping-off points for a variety of simulated case management scenarios identified as being critical to the development of successful social workers. These scenarios provide crucial opportunities for students to process complex information and to make and learn from mistakes within the safety of a virtual environment.

  • Each case management scenario guides you through situational narratives with multiple outcomes dependent on the course of action you choose
  • Multiple choice prompts throughout the narrative structure your case management decisions, and how the narrative progresses and concludes will depend on your selections for each prompt
  • Case management scenarios may include videos, audio clips, images and written case histories that augment the unique learning path forged through your decision-making
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