Online reflective learning for student placements

Ever been on a student placement yourself that didn’t really provide a lot of stimulation? Do not worry, some still exist!  A few weeks ago, I attended the Australian and New Zealand Association of Health Professional Educators conference.  Mouthful – let’s call it ANZAHPE for short.  There was a lot of talk about new ways of teaching, so I thought I would share a technology tool that can help you create innovative learning experiences for students that come through your clinic or workplace.

For those clinicians who take on students, this is fantastic.  It is so important to offer clinical placements for students to learn.  Depending on the length of the placement, it can be challenging to keep students stimulated at times. How do you keep students interested?  One of the common discussions from the ANZAHPE conference was the idea that students have shorter attention spans compared to previous generations.  We all have heard at some stage as well as about learning styles.  Some students love group learning, whilst others prefer to work alone.  Some students work best by listening, whilst others need visual examples.  Learning styles can also change as people grow and mature. How do we cater for this as clinicians in busy settings? 

Writing a reflective diary is a great way to learn and to understand the environment of a placement.  There are two main types of reflection in practice.  The first one is the process where students recognise a new problem and then think about it while they are in the moment.  This is called ‘in action’ reflection (Schon, 1983).  The other type of reflective practice is retrospective thought of therapy undertaken and learning from the information that you recall.  This is called ‘on action’ reflection. Traditionally, reflective diaries are encouraged for students to learn through ‘on action’ reflection.  There are normally handwritten, in a notebook. I sometimes wonder how much they get out of this task. 

Have you thought about any new ways to modernise the reflective diary on placement?  If you have the computer space available, setting up a private ‘blog’ page for students is a good way to record what they are learning on prac.  Having an online access to it means they can do this from home as well if they are keen. Photos and images can be added along with text.  Ensuring the privacy settings are created to ensure no external access, you can create a fun and new way for students to share their ideas and reflect on their learning, but keep the information private.   If you have more than one student, they could share the blog and learn from one another. Using this kind of platform will allow you to also add in pieces of information such as tasks you need them to achieve.

How do you set up a blog?  There are many platforms – here are some of them that will allow you to create a page from a number of already laid out templates so you don’t have to be a tech wiz on this.

Happy blogging!



Reference: Schon D. (1983). The Reflective Practitioner: How professionals think in action. London. Temple Smith.

Online Tools, Education

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