Designing for Enquiry: Using Web 2.0 to Enable Mental Health Service User and Carer Involvement

Designing for Enquiry: Using Web 2.0 to Enable Mental Health Service User and Carer Involvement

Tarsem Singh Cooner (The University of Birmingham, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-889-0.ch012


This chapter sets the imperative for service user and carer involvement in the processes of educating mental health professionals. It begins by outlining some of the traditional barriers higher education institutions have faced in encouraging service user and carer involvement in teaching and learning. It then outlines the properties that Web 2.0 tools and processes can offer to overcome some of these obstacles. In developing effective interdisciplinary blended learning opportunities it is argued that the use of Web 2.0 alone will not ensure effective learning outcomes. The Community of Inquiry model is introduced to explore how the processes of enquiry, collaboration and communication can be embedded into the heart of interdisciplinary blended learning designs.
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Interdisciplinary Education

Definition and Ethos

It is important to contextualise the work of CEIMH by clarifying our definition of, and ethos towards the development of interdisciplinary education and practice. Building on the UK Centre for the Advancement of Interprofessional Education definition (CAIPE, 1997 & 2006), we broadly define interdisciplinary education as occasions where two or more disciplines (the term includes mental health service users and their carers) learn with, from and about one another to improve collaboration and the quality of mental health services. Because the service user and carer community may not be recognised as a “distinct profession” we use the term interdisciplinary as opposed to interprofessional to formally acknowledge their contributions to the learning process. In all other respects there is no difference between the principles of interprofessional and interdisciplinary education and practice.

Project applications to CEIMH have to clearly outline how mental health service users and carers will be involved in every aspect of the planning, design, delivery, assessment and evaluation of projects. Our development process has evolved over time and we now actively work alongside applicants throughout the duration of projects to help them create enquiry-based blended learning designs that have interactive learning elements aimed at maximising collaborative working and cross disciplinary communication. Our initial project evaluation work has indicated that a successful learning design will contain situations where students from two or more disciplines do more than simply listen to the same lectures. As Hammick, Freeth, Koppel, Reeves and Barr (2007) explain, enquiry-based interactivity in the learning process is key if it is to help develop the circumstances that will lead to effective collaborative practice and promote better care.

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