2017WOW_Logo_0Today we continue the WCET Frontiers series on the 2017 WCET Outstanding Work (WOW) Awards. These awards honor member institutions and organizations that develop technology-based solutions to challenging educational needs. The 2017 award winners will be honored this week at the 29th WCET Annual Meeting.

Welcome to Megan Sellers, from Healthcare Innovations, a division of American Sentinel University, to discuss the 2017 WOW Award winning program Sentinel City. Thank you for your work to increase student success!

Enjoy the read and enjoy the day,

~Lindsey Downs, WCET

Motivated by Our Mission

The passion and creativity that runs deep within the Healthcare Learning Innovations team existed long before the organization was born. A subset of our current team started out as members of American Sentinel University (our parent organization) which is an online nursing school focused solely on healthcare education.

Dr. Richard Oliver, American Sentinel’s CEO, encourages adoption of new technologies. These technologies help to create 21st century digital educational tools and solutions that enable a superior experience, convenience, and engagement for nursing students and educators.

a screenshot from inside the sentinel city platform, showing a virtual healthcare building

Inspired by this, Trevor Rasmusson, the Learning Innovation Manager at Healthcare Learning Innovations, worked with Dr. John Bourne, the University’s Chief Innovation Officer, to create a digital simulation for nursing students that would solve common issues surrounding the basic windshield survey assignment.

As a result, the idea of Sentinel City® was born, and development was soon underway.

What is a Windshield Survey and What are the Problems Facing Students?

What is a windshield survey, you ask? It’s an assignment within a community health or public health nursing course where a student explores the community to determine how social, environmental, and cultural aspects correlate with available data on the population’s health. For nursing students, it is a challenge to find time to complete the survey between work hours and the demands of life outside of work.

Another concern is safety, as students move about the community actively making observations and taking notes. We found that a simulated windshield survey provided convenience and a safer experience for students, while creating a consistent base evaluation for faculty. This saved time for both students and faculty – a win for everyone!

Screenshot of the faculty dashboard, which tracks time and activity for students.

It’s Showtime

Full of excitement, American Sentinel faculty presented our findings and an early version of Sentinel City® at nurse educator conference. The response was remarkable! We received multiple requests for trials and implementation from educators, administrators, and institutions over the following year. However, Sentinel City® wasn’t fully built or ready to share with other schools.

At this point, we formed Healthcare Learning Innovations to further develop and distribute Sentinel City® and other novel immersive learning solutions that enhance the nursing education experience. This allowed American Sentinel University to maintain its focus on degrees and certificate programs, instead of dividing their resources to support, develop, and sell new simulations and other digital tools.

Ask and you Shall Receive

We’re an inquisitive bunch, to say the least. We followed a pattern that generated an increasingly well-received product:

  1. Ask educators, administrators and students questions.
  2. Listen carefully to their answers.
  3. Incorporate the feedback into product development.
  4. Rinse. Repeat.

The Result

We upgraded Sentinel City® four times in 15 months! Significant upgrades included:

  • Building immersive assessments and activities,

    Screen shot of a virtual living room in a home, with a ouch, lights, pohtos, rug, etc.
    Sentinel City® Home Assessment, Hazard Identification
  • Increasing interactivity with chatbot community members, interactive citizens, and locations,
  • Creating a catalogue of assignments with grading rubrics, mapped to AACN BSN Essentials,
  • Adding emergency preparedness scenarios,
  • Building digital user guides and faculty support materials.

Jeffrey Caplan, President of Healthcare Learning Innovations, describes our methodology:
“We listen. A lot. We engage the healthcare education community often for feedback; from administrators and educators to nursing students. Of course, we want to know what works well and how we can improve Sentinel City® population/community health simulation. But we also ask plenty of questions about additional challenges and education needs so we can create new digital solutions that address pressing education problems.”

A screen shot of Sentinel Town, showing a wooden sign reading
Inside Sentinel City

The Road Ahead

We recently developed and launched Sentinel Town™, a rural community simulation inspired by Sentinel City®, which meets the expressed needs of the nursing education community.

We continue to advance our products, most recently with ADA accessible versions, additional functionality, and live 24/7/365 support for our client schools and students. We are also actively expanding our product offerings, currently developing new digital assignments and simulations that easily integrate into existing courses (e.g. leadership, management and communication), a virtual hospital, and increasing virtual intelligent agent (chatbot) functionality for school-wide student support.

Nursing education is evolving as digital media advances and new technologies emerge. We are on the front lines, learning and adapting, incorporating new techniques and products that continue serving the needs of the nursing community.

Scree shot of a virtual digital assesment, showing a virtual avatar (virtual patient), with questions

The future is bright, the community is talking, and we are listening.

Interesting stuff, right? Watch the Sentinel City® video and visit our website to learn more about our products and what we do.

A Word of Appreciation

We are filled with gratitude to WCET for presenting us with this WCET Outstanding Work (WOW) Award. We are thrilled to receive such a unique award and are honored to contribute to the advancement of technology-based learning solutions. We will continue developing new innovative products for our industry and community.


author headshot of Megan Sellers
Megan Sellers

Digital Marketing Manager
Healthcare Learning Innovations – A division of American Sentinel University




CC Logo

1 reply on “From a Vision to Reality: The Story of Sentinel City®”

Comments are closed.


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,413 other subscribers

Archive By Month

Blog Tags

Distance Education (318)Student Success (297)Online Learning (230)Managing Digital Learning (221)State Authorization (217)WCET (212)U.S. Department of Education (207)Regulation (199)Technology (169)Digital Learning (150)Innovation (125)Teaching (121)Collaboration/Community (114)WCET Annual Meeting (105)Course Design (103)Access (98)Professional Development (98)SAN (90)Faculty (88)Cost of Instruction (88)Financial Aid (84)Legislation (83)Completion (74)Assessment (69)Instructional Design (68)Open Educational Resources (66)Accreditation (65)COVID-19 (64)SARA (64)Accessibility (63)Professional Licensure (63)Credentials (62)Competency-based Education (61)Quality (61)Data and Analytics (60)Diversity/Equity/Inclusion (58)Research (58)Reciprocity (57)WOW Award (51)Outcomes (47)Workforce/Employment (46)Regular and Substantive Interaction (43)Policy (42)Higher Education Act (41)Negotiated Rulemaking (41)Virtual/Augmented Reality (37)Title IV (36)Practice (35)Academic Integrity (34)Disaster Planning/Recovery (34)Leadership (34)Artificial Intelligence (31)WCET Awards (30)Every Learner Everywhere (29)State Authorization Network (29)IPEDS (28)Adaptive/Personalized Learning (28)Reauthorization (28)Military and Veterans (27)Survey (27)Credits (26)Disabilities (25)MOOC (23)WCET Summit (23)Evaluation (22)Complaint Process (21)Retention (21)Enrollment (21)Correspondence Course (18)Physical Presence (17)WICHE (17)Cybersecurity (16)Products and Services (16)Forprofit Universities (15)Member-Only (15)WCET Webcast (15)Blended/Hybrid Learning (14)System/Consortia (14)Digital Divide (14)NCOER (14)Textbooks (14)Mobile Learning (13)Consortia (13)Personalized Learning (12)Futures (11)Marketing (11)Privacy (11)STEM (11)Prior Learning Assessment (10)Courseware (10)Teacher Prep (10)Social Media (9)LMS (9)Rankings (9)Standards (8)Student Authentication (8)Partnership (8)Tuition and Fees (7)Readiness and Developmental Courses (7)What's Next (7)International Students (6)K-12 (6)Lab Courses (6)Nursing (6)Remote Learning (6)Testing (6)Graduation (6)Proctoring (5)Closer Conversation (5)ROI (5)DETA (5)Game-based/Gamification (5)Dual Enrollment (4)Outsourcing (4)Coding (4)Security (4)Higher Education Trends (4)Mental Health (4)Fall and Beyond Series (3)In a Time of Crisis (3)Net Neutrality (3)Universal Design for Learning (3)Cheating Syndicates Series (3)ChatGPT (3)Enrollment Shift (3)Nontraditional Learners (2)Student Identity Verification (2)Cross Skilling/Reskilling (2)Virtual Summit (2)Higher Education (2)Title IX (1)Business of Higher Education (1)OPMs (1)Department of Education (1)Third-Party Servicers (1)microcredentials (1)Minority Serving Institution (1)Community College (1)