Spacing means to work on a task in multiple sessions rather than in one session. Virtual patients are spaced activated if they are not released to the students at the same time (bolus learning) but rather distributed over time (e.g., a certain number each week) or when other conditions are fulfilled (e.g., when previous virtual patients have been completed or a certain score threshold is reached). Spaced activation is observed to result in more balanced learning activities without cumulation of the workload in a short period. This can lead to longer lasting learning effects.
- Maier EM, Hege I, Muntau AC, Huber J, Fischer MR. What are effects of a spaced activation of virtual patients in a pediatric course? BMC Med Educ. 2013;13:45. (Link)