Implementing Emerging Technologies to Support Work-Integrated Learning in Allied Health Education: The Journey From Exploration to Adoption

Implementing Emerging Technologies to Support Work-Integrated Learning in Allied Health Education: The Journey From Exploration to Adoption

Ganeshan Rao (Griffith University, Australia), Mary-Ann Shuker (Griffith University, Australia) and Robert Loudon (Griffith University, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3850-9.ch013


The adoption and implementation of new technology to support work-integrated learning (WIL) is often challenging for staff and students. In this chapter, the authors discuss the processes and decisions involved from early piloting to potential institutional adoption of relevant technology (emerging or otherwise) and provide practical tools for the readers' use. The discussion is supported by evidence from allied health programs at a large higher education institution in Australia and identifies issues, controversies, and problems involved in new technology adoption. The importance of clarifying the pedagogical need before looking to technology is reinforced. Guidelines for identifying emerging and/or innovative use of current technologies are described, followed by discussion of considerations for selection of technologies that best align with the educational requirement.
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Work Integrated Learning (WIL) is defined by Patrick et al. (2008, p. iv) as “a range of approaches and strategies that integrate theory with the practice of work within a purposefully designed curriculum”. WIL provides real world practice on or off campus to improve student employability, understanding of workplace culture, engagement, and retention (Patrick et al., 2008). Similar terms include cooperative education, professional learning, real world learning, and social engagement with the community (Patrick et al., 2008).

Allied Health includes health programs other than medicine and nursing eligible for professional body registration (Campbell, McAllister, & Eley, 2012) who aim to achieve optimal function in their clients (Lowe, Adams, & O'Kane, 2007). Work Integrated Learning has become integral to Allied Health programs as it is a requirement of many professional accrediting bodies (Exercise and Sports Science Australia, 2016; Nagarajan & McAllister, 2015).

Emerging technologies include both technologies and practices (Veletsianos, 2016) that can significantly change education (Ball & Levy, 2008; Johnson et al., 2016) and which might not be new, except to the context in which they are applied (Veletsianos, 2016). Considerations to implement emerging technologies in WIL in Allied Health are largely characterised by the same tensions that exist between technology and education more generally. The fast and accelerating pace of technological innovation continually challenges the status quo.

Technology is changing fast. “[It] has the shelf life of a banana. By the time you buy it, implement it and train people on it, it's obsolete.” (CNBC, 2014). A smartphone today contains more than a million dollars of 1980’s technology (Diamandis & Kotler, 2012). Many new technologies offer simple solutions with low learning curves, free entry, and seamless integration via social media accounts like Facebook or Google (Kontaxis, Polychronakis, & Markatos, 2012) making it easy to get started and to mix and match technologies.

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