Educating a Multidisciplinary Human Services Workforce: Using a Blended Approach

Educating a Multidisciplinary Human Services Workforce: Using a Blended Approach

Jennifer Martin (RMIT University, Australia), Elspeth McKay (, Australia) and Linette Hawkins (Action Research Issues Association, Melbourne, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-735-5.ch001
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This chapter explores technological developments in the human services and the educational requirements of a skilled labor force. It is argued that learner experiences can be enhanced by adopting a blended approach that includes face- to- face and online activities. Careful planning is required that matches desired learning experiences and learner characteristics with appropriate educational design and architectures. The main views of learning discussed are absorption, behavioral and cognitive with consideration of the most appropriate learning architectures to support these. A case study highlights the complexity of applying these in practice, as well as the importance of community building in the online environment.
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‘Learning without thought is labour lost; thought without learning is perilous’.

Confucius (K’ung Fu tzu 551-479 BC), Chinese philosopher and reformer, Analects, ch.15, v.38 in Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (2004, p.238:8).


Educating A Multidisciplinary Human Services Workforce

In Australia the first social work program provided via distance education was developed by Monash University in response to pressure from the State Government to address a severe shortage of professional workers in rural Victoria. With the increased use of ICT tools for both on and off campus programs, the distinction between face-to-face learning and “distance education” became blurred. Moreover the distance education program initiated to meet the needs of rural workers soon attracted metropolitan students in need of or attracted by its flexible delivery. In terms of levels of satisfaction and educational standards, Oullette (2006) found no significant difference in interviews skill acquisition when comparing classroom based and online learning. In a further study by Siebert (2006) of a post graduate clinical social work skills course, the final results of online students were considered comparable to students in face-to-face classes. Using the virtual classroom of a graduate social policy course, Roberts-DeGennaro (2005) found that students enjoyed learning through the virtual classroom as much as traditional on-campus campus components of course. Following their study of classroom and online field practicum seminars over a three year period Wolfson et al (2005) decided to offer the fourth year practicum seminar for social work students exclusively online.

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