Simone McCaughren

Simone McCaughren


Describe your digital collaboration activities


As part of a Practice Skills Lab module (SS2201) for mature learners (BSW students) I collaborated with colleagues in the School involved in the SPEEDs project, as well as Instructional Design, to develop a new approach to teaching and learning communication skills using the Library Studio. In semester two (2018) I undertook a small pilot study with a group of 25 student social workers in year 2. The use of the Library Studio was offered to two groups of students where they recorded themselves doing a role-play that was based on a practice scenario. The videos were then formatted and edited by the facilitator which included inserting digital feedback. The videos were then used as a learning tool for the larger student group where they got to view and review the videoed role-plays. This initiative is now in its second phase whereby I will be working with the School of Nursing in piloting videoed role-plays with social work students and nursing students (completion date early November 2018). Ongoing collaboration with Instructional Design will also ensure that social work has a place on ePrepp with plans to add to this platform.

What technology do you use?


My students and I used the Library Studio for video recording role-plays. I worked with the SPEEDs team in developing my digital skills for editing role-plays and inserting learning prompts & feedback for class viewing and feedback. iMovie was the application used in editing the videos.

How does this collaboration relate to your teaching and learning practice and the development of digital skills?


The use of digital technology has enhanced my approach to teaching. The use of the hand held camera is now a thing of the past and Library Studio allows students to record their role-plays in their own time and without the presence of the facilitator. The process of editing the videos and inserting prompts for student viewing, feedback and discussion allows for a more considered approach where students are prompted to name skills, recognise the use of appropriate non-verbals and identify aspects of effective communication skills. Students are encouraged through the use of this technology to write a reflective entry on the process of their experiential learning and the personal learning gained from the process of viewing self-in-action (Kolb). Observation and feedback are central to this approach to teaching and learning. Due to the age profile, backgrounds and experiences of students, the teaching of social work skills is always challenging.Collaboration on this new approach to teaching and learning allows the intricate dynamics of interpersonal communication to be taught and facilitated by new advances in digital technology. Phase two of this pilot study (in collaboration with the School of Nursing) will further advance the teaching and learning of communications skills where students will have the opportunity to role-play scenarios with another professional discipline. The scenarios for role-play are currently been co-constructed with the School of Nursing and role-plays will be completed by early November 2018.

How has this contributed to your professional development in teaching and learning?


The use of digital technology has enhanced my approach to teaching. The use of the hand held camera is now a thing of the past and Library Studio allows students to record their role-plays in their own time and without the presence of the facilitator. The process of editing the videos and inserting prompts for student viewing, feedback and discussion allows for a more considered approach where students are prompted to name skills, recognise the use of appropriate non-verbals and identify aspects of effective communication skills. Students are encouraged through the use of this technology to write a reflective entry on the process of their experiential learning and the personal learning gained from the process of viewing self-in-action (Kolb). Observation and feedback are central to this approach to teaching and learning. Due to the age profile, backgrounds and experiences of students, the teaching of social work skills is always challenging.Collaboration on this new approach to teaching and learning allows the intricate dynamics of interpersonal communication to be taught and facilitated by new advances in digital technology. Phase two of this pilot study (in collaboration with the School of Nursing) will further advance the teaching and learning of communications skills where students will have the opportunity to role-play scenarios with another professional discipline. The scenarios for role-play are currently been co-constructed with the School of Nursing and role-plays will be completed by early November 2018.

What scholarship guided you in this work?


One of the core proficiencies for social workers is that of effective communication. Communication skills training takes place in the Practice Skills Lab and one of the main objectives in teaching this module is that students have the opportunity to 'test out' practice skills in a safe and supportive environment before they embark on their first practice placement in year 3. According to Trevithick et al (2004) “good communication is at the heart of best practice in social work”. Social work programmes have a responsibility to prepare students for practice. It is also crucial that student training about the “interpersonal nature of communication and its place within the social work task is conveyed to, understood and practised by pre-qualifying students rather than simply emphasising the regulatory demands to develop skills place on them by external bodies” (Bolger, 2013, p. 197). The module content of the skills laboratory provides students with the opportunity to develop basic social work skills in the laboratory setting and to develop a critical understanding of self and others in a variety of professional contexts. The concept of reflective teaching and learning is presented to social work students in year two of their studies in this module. This framework is a useful tool for mature students as they become central observers to themselves and others. Student learning is experiential in that “learning is through doing” that also involves “learning through reflecting on the doing”, (Bernard, 1989, p.2). Rogers (1969, p.5) defines the essence of experiential learning as having “a quality of personal involvement – the whole person in both his feelings and cognitive aspects being in the learning event”. Similarly, Thompson, (2015) discusses the three essential components of learning: the Think-Feel-Do framework. The first necessary element is the cognitive dimension (thinking) where students need to consider what they are doing instead of applying themselves to situations in way that is robotic and formulaic. He warns of the danger in not thinking about what we are doing and that it can “desensitize us to potential problems and pitfalls” (Thompson and Thompson, 2008 in Thompson, 2015, p. xvii). The second relates to the affective dimension or feeling where students need to recognise that “the process of learning involves feelings as well as thoughts and actions” (ibid). The third dimension, doing, involves practising ideas and developing and building on skills. The skills laboratory allows students opportunities for simulated practice. As part of the reflective model students are introduced to role-play and the scaffolding of this is central to the teaching of the module in the first semester. Initially students can find it difficult to envisage themselves role-playing, therefore, a lot of facilitation has to take place to make the conditions of role-playing optimal. The ideal learning environment is one where students feel supported by their peers and facilitator, where they feel safe to test out new or different approaches and where students receive clear and constructive feedback.

Which training resources helped you in this work?


SPEEDS team in the School of Applied Social Studies; UCC's Instructional Design team.

How did you use technology to achieve the desired outcome?


1. It allowed students to do their role--plays in their own time - students can make their videos in a safe and professional space 2. It allowed the facilitator to view the videoed role-plays before class, edit and insert prompts for class viewing and feedback 3. It has prompted the development of inter-disciplinary links(for example with the School of Nursing and general practice) in developing and expanding role-plays with nursing students 4.It has moved the facilitator into the digital arena and with the supportive of SPEEDs and Instructional Design has given me the tools to further develop more innovative approaches to teaching and learning.

What were the key outcomes of this work?


The key outcomes of this collaboration: 1. Personal/professional development for me as facilitator in developing my digital skills for teaching (this is ongoing). The use of the Library Studio has enhance the delivery of skills modules. 2. Providing students with a professional approach to teaching and learning where digital technology can develop and enhance their overall learning experience. The Library Studio is a deviation from the traditional approach of the facilitator recording role-plays (by hand held camera). This new approach allows mature learners to be placed at the centre of their learning processes 3.Inter-disciplinary collaboration (with nursing and general practice) in developing approaches to teaching and learning that will promote inter-disciplinary learning (this is ongoing).

Student feedback


Students were asked to send the facilitator qualitative feedback on the basis of their experiences of using the studio laboratory for their role-plays. They were given four very open-ended questions where they were asked to articulate their thoughts and feelings as to how they experienced the studio laboratory. The feedback was overwhelming positive. Some of the student feedback included comments that indicated the facility of the Library Studio assisted their learning: "It [library studio) is a safe environment to act out all scenarios. It doesn't take long to film either and is easy to book". Another student said: "I personally found that having use of this room improved the overall video quality, minimises nervousness while maintaining a professional feel throughout." One student felt that the inclusion of prompts in the video assisted their learning and said: "I think the feedback helps individuals and groups, because there is a considered response to a video clip".

Recommendations


My advice would be to embrace technology as a support to teaching and learning. It can be resource intensive and time consuming, but in the long run it assists and enhances the teaching and learning experiences for both the facilitator and students.

References


Bolger, J. (2013), Video self-modelling and its impact on the development of communication skills within social work education in Journal of Social Work, Volume 14(2), pp.196-212 Rogers, C.R. (1969). Freedom to Learn. Columbus, OH: Merrill Thompson, N. (2015) People Skills, Palgrave, London Trevithick, P., Richards, S., Ruch, G. & Moss, B. (2004) Teaching and learning communication skills in social work education, Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE), London Van Ments, M. (1999)The Effective use of Role-play: Practical Techniques for Improving Learning,

Funded by


Speeds HEA
Speeds HEA
Speeds HEA