How technology can enable or inhibit work-based learning in a clinical setting

Adams, Anne (2007). How technology can enable or inhibit work-based learning in a clinical setting. In: 15th World Conference on Cooperative Education (WACE '07), 26-29 Jun 2007, Singapore.



Technology can support speedy communication, collaboration and access to information across great distances and as such is a great enabler in work-based learning. Many learning technologies are based on formalised pedagogical models of collaboration & information structuring. However, in the work place, rich and varied learning interactions are based on both formal and informal work practices [1]. This paper presents a series of ethnographic studies within several healthcare settings that pinpoint the clashes between educational and clinical work-based learning models. The use of clinical learning technologies was reviewed within two hospitals. Over 134 clincians (nurses, junior doctors, consultants, surgeons, Allied Health Professionals (AHPs; e.g. occupational therapists), managers and IT department members) were observed and interviewed over a 3 year period. Barriers to learning were amplified by inappropriate design, implementation and support for clinical learning technologies. Interaction patterns between clinicians and the technology are detailed to dispel some of the myths about work-based learning. These descriptions also reveal informal collaborative work practices that evolve to circumvent inappropriate learning technologies. Further evaluations highlight how a ‘communities of practice’ pedagogical approach to learning technology design, implementation and ongoing learning support can resolve these conflicts.

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