Learning from Each Other?: Using Technology to Develop Collaborative Learning in Clinical Education

Learning from Each Other?: Using Technology to Develop Collaborative Learning in Clinical Education

Helen Bradbury (University of Leeds, UK), Melissa Highton (Oxford University, UK) and Rebecca O’Rourke (University of Leeds, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-889-0.ch010
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Abstract

This chapter discusses and evaluates the introduction of collaborative e-learning activities into an interprofessional teacher education programme, a Master of Education in Clinical Education (MEd CE). The activity involved designing an educational research methodology module. The authors chose educational research methods as the task focus because, although the students had some familiarity with research methods, researching clinical education was new to them all. This task enabled participants to learn about educational research methods, course design and e-learning tools, resources and pedagogy. The process enhanced collaborative and interprofessional learning.
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Introduction

This chapter offers a case study in interprofessional education that promoted collaborative learning through e-learning. It discusses and evaluates the introduction of collaborative e-learning activities into an interprofessional teacher education programme, a Master of Education in Clinical Education (MEd CE). Now in its 5th year, the MEd developed from, and continues to run alongside, a successful Post-Graduate Certificate. The activity involved designing an educational research methodology module and enabled participants to learn about educational research methods, course design and e-learning tools, resources and pedagogy. We chose educational research methods as the task focus because, although the students had some familiarity with research methods, researching clinical education was new to them all.

Evidence of interprofessional learning is notoriously hard to capture (Barr 2007) and our experience was no different. It has been easier to identify and evaluate the engagement with e-learning than to identify interprofessional learning. Nevertheless, collaborative learning both within and across professional groupings clearly takes place, especially in relation to learning how to use the technology to complete the online task. This learning scaffolds the process of learning about educational research methods and course design for the participants. Learning about technology and educational research methods creates trust across the group which makes it possible for them to challenge and debate their individual research studies on an equal but different professional standing.

We explore the introduction of this activity from the standpoint of the students and the course team, taking Salmon’s Five Stage model of e-moderation (Salmon, 2000) as a guide. We draw on two sources of information for this chapter. First, a content analysis of material generated by the students on the programme, which is explored in relation to the experience of e-learning and interprofessional collaborative learning. These materials, used with permission from the health care professionals involved, include individual reflective accounts (which formed part of the module assessment) and records of the on-line interactions from the collaborative task. Second, we used appreciative inquiry methodology (Cooperrider & Srivastva, 1987) to chart the experience of the course director as she worked with Gilly Salmon’s principles (Salmon, 2000, 2002) to introduce, review and refine elements of e-learning into what has now become a ‘blended learning’ programme (Littlejohn, 2007).

The chapter begins by outlining the educational and professional contexts within which the course is situated. We briefly describe the course and the online activity which forms the basis of this chapter before discussing the main themes and issues which emerge from our evaluation. Finally, we reflect on the implications of our experience for others.

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