Developing virtual learning support for practice learning

Kim Bown, N. Green, Kieron Hatton

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Learning in, and from practice is an important dimension of social work education. Social work education programmes benefit from strong partnerships between agencies and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) which ensure that students’ academic and practice learning is coherent and integrated. The importance of achieving and maintaining high practice standards is evidenced by the death of baby ‘P’ in Haringey (2007) and the subsequent public and professional discourse surroumding this case. The presenters are committed to a high level of frequent contact between social work academic and practice learning placements (PLPs) but acknowledge that achieving the aim of integration is an increasing challenge due to resource constraints in social work agencies and HEIs. The paper asks the question ‘how can relationships and interactivity between key stakeholders, which lie at the heart of good practice learning, be developed and sustained?’ The paper considers whether the innovative use of a virtual learning environment (VLE) will support and enhance the learning experience by addressing some of the above challenges whilst acknowledging that practice teams play an important role in practice learning - the presenters have no desire to see VLE’s replace that relationship (Madoc-Jones and Parrott (2005 p.766.) The paper reports on a pilot project which aims to introduce a blended learning approach to placement learning support strategy. It will use interactive learning which will provide opportunities to deconstruct placement experiences in similar contexts through on line seminars, virtual conferencing and continued support through regular visits. The technological opportunities of VLE are fast changing and the presenters claim that it is imperative that social work educators engage the potential. The paper examines the advantages and disadvantages of such an approach from a multi stakeholder perspective. It concludes by proposing a model of integrated, blended learning with the objective of enhancing partnerships and effective student practice learning.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2009
EventJoint Social Work Education Conference ‘Changing Identities’ - University of Hertfordshire
Duration: 8 Jul 200910 Jul 2009


ConferenceJoint Social Work Education Conference ‘Changing Identities’
CityUniversity of Hertfordshire


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