Using the resource in education and training
Setting the scene
As stated above, it is important for tutors and trainers to know why
they wish to use the resource; it’s also important to have some
sense of how they might use it. In many ways its structure, which permits
use in both linear and non-linear ways, creates endless possibilities
for both educational and staff development use. Some of the ways in
which the resource development team envisage the resource being used
Successful use of any resource depends to a great extent on being
able to integrate it with other aspects of the study course, training
programme or organisational culture with which it is associated. Here
are some suggested uses for the resource:
- As a full or partial replacement for theoretical and conceptual
teaching about research mindedness in social work/care qualifying
- As a resource for agency staff development and training
- As a general source of information, reference resource, etc. within
- As a primary information source for teaching research literacy within
a research module at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels
- As part of a post-qualifying/ CPD course, either face-to-face or
by distance learning
- As an integral part of an agency’s information and communication
Helping learners to get started
It must not be assumed that learners who are familiar with computers
are already skilled in e-learning. Even though they may routinely use
computers to access the Web or for social purposes, they will not necessarily
view them as a tool for learning.
Therefore, in advance of any session working with the resource, it
is helpful to try and gauge how learners feel about the prospect of
e-learning, and any relevant experiences they may have. This might usefully
include not only on-line learning, but also the use of CD-ROMs, computer-assisted
learning, computer-based training etc.
An initial session with the resource might take the form of a tutor/trainer-led
presentation on its key features, designed to highlight how it can support
key areas of a course of study or staff development programme. This
might then lead to focusing on a specific topic within the resource
– e.g. ‘Why be research minded’, followed by a discussion
of the key issues involved. If time permits the session can then involve
individual learners in either staff- or self-directed tasks.
As with any education and training method, helping learners to begin
using the resource requires planning. Simply issuing users with the
URL of the resource is unlikely to stimulate more than passing interest
in its value and potential usefulness. It may be helpful, then, as you
view the resource yourself to keep brief notes on any ideas that occur
to you for introducing it to learners.
Helping learners to stay engaged
Whilst some learners will quickly spot the value of the resource and
develop an active interest in using it, for others the novelty of e-learning
will soon wear off. Evidence from many e-learning developers suggests
that one of the keys to maintaining engagement lies in ensuring that
learners don’t just use resources passively. This in turn requires
tutors and trainers to:
- Identify appropriate aims and learning objectives
- Devise tasks to engage users in relevant learning, and;
- Direct users to elements of the resource with which to undertake
So, by way of example, you may decide that the learners for whom you
are responsible need to understand the role which Research Governance
will increasingly play in shaping research activity in social care.
You may then set a task such as:
‘Using the Research Mindedness learning resource as your
starting point, carry out the following tasks:
a. In relation to a piece of your own research, or research
you are familiar with, identify the main issues which relate to the
concept of Research Governance
b. Discuss how the implementation of the Research Governance framework
is likely to impact on the issues you identified and why?
The above task could be undertaken by learners working alone, or in
pairs. Outcomes from the task could form part of a formative assessment,
or contribute to a learning portfolio.
Activities and tasks such as the example above which will help users
of the resource to process information, thereby creating personal and
professional knowledge in the area of research mindedness.
Using the resource to support learners between on-line sessions
In an already crowded curriculum or staff development programme, scheduled
on-line sessions involving the resource are likely to account for a
small amount of learners’ time. As with all forms of education
and training, the ways in which learners are supported during off-line
time can play a crucial part in ensuring that learning objectives are
met and that learning momentum is sustained.
The resource itself can be used in a range of ways to support learning
during off-line periods, as follows:
- The resource contains some 50 links to other resources and information
sources, from most of which materials can be downloaded and stored
for reference and study off-line.
- Individual sections of the resource core materials can be printed
off and used as study materials for seminars, learning sets, group
discussions, team meetings, etc. For students whose practice teachers
may lack easy access to the resource on-line, this facility can enable
sharing of the materials with them, thus helping to integrate college
and agency based learning.
As tutors and trainers become familiar with the resource, its contents,
structure, navigability and links to external sources, so we believe
they will also develop their own ways of using it to support learners.