Practical learning: achieving excellence in the human services

January 23-25 2008 Edinburgh International Conference Centre

Using online technology to assist isolated social work students in rural practicum to undertake critically reflective practice

Keywords: online education, social work, rural Field Education, critical reflection

Authors: Doctor Fran Waugh (University of Sydney); Ms Deborah Hart (University of Sydney)

For the past six years an online (WebCT) site has been used by educators in the Social Work and Policy Studies programme at the University of Sydney to educate social work students undertaking Field Education placements in rural and remote communities. From our initial evaluative research we found that sound pedagogy was a major factor influencing the learning outcomes achieved by students. Our subsequent research over the last six years demonstrates the importance of taking account of and responding to social work students' emotional engagement in the online learning processes.

This paper will explore students' experiences of engaging in critical reflective processes in the diverse and complex situations confronting them in the human service sector in rural and remote communities. The challenges and opportunities the students' experience raise for future social work education will be considered.

The intended audience is academics, field educators (practice teachers)and students. The intended learning outcomes for the session are for participants to:

Date: Wednesday 23 January 2008, 11.30-12.00

Venue: Ochil One

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Organised by the Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services in association with PEPE (Practical Experiences in Professional Education).