Practice Learning Support Systems in Midwifery Studies

Monday, 7 July 2008: 3:35 PM
Rosemary Ann King, RN, RM, BA, MA , School of Nursing, University of Ballarat, Ballarat, Australia
Sally J. Wellard, PhD, MN, BA(Soc, Sc), RN , School of Nursing, University of Ballarat, Ballarat, Australia

Learning Objective 1: gain an understanding of how a University web based learnign support system can assist students in meeting learning needs and assessment objectives in clinical placement.

Learning Objective 2: understand the facilitators and barriers to introducing web based learning support systems for clinical staff in rural settings.

Clinical teaching is a vital, yet multidimensional component of nursing and midwifery pre-registration education. Unlike other parts of curricula, clinical teaching relies on collaboration between both higher education and health care sectors to meet prescribed goals and for effective student learning to occur. However, the support mechanisms within these partnership arrangements are poorly developed resulting in students and clinical staff experiencing considerable difficulty in managing learning opportunities (Williams et al. 2001; McKenna and Wellard 2004; Wellard et al. 2006). This situation is exacerbated by increasing costs incurred by universities in accessing student placements and a concurrent shortage of learning opportunities. To date there has been limited development of innovative solutions to these problems in Australia, but recent developments in the UK offer potential solutions that could be adapted. This project developed a web based clinical learning support system for a Graduate Diploma of Midwifery program that is delivered across a wide geographical rural region. The support system aimed to:

1. develop the capacity of clinical staff as facilitators in practice learning for midwifery students.

2. develop information, resources and communication technologies for effective communication between students, clinical educators and academic staff.

The evalution of the clinical learning support system sought to identify if students experienced a clearer interface between off and on campus learning, and increased the engagment by clinical staff with the curriculum and learning objectives of the program. The completed web based clinical learning support program will become a prototype for other clinically focused programs. The facilitators and barriers to the development, implemetation and uptake of the clinical learning support system will be presented.