By Suzanne Traynor @Traynors
Associate Professor Mental Health (Practice) at Middlesex University & My Care Academy.
Finding the time to keep up to date with changing care practice can be a real challenge for staff working in the NHS. Learning and Development departments need to keep pace with new learning opportunities and support staff to a changing culture from a classroom-based mindset to one where staff have a greater ownership of their learning and can access this through a variety of devices.
A significant increase in Smartphone ownership in the past 5 years has enabled staff to manage their access to learning – but where to begin? Staff need the flexibility to decide for themselves when and where they will learn. Learning themes broken down to smaller (bitesize) units of between 5 – 15 minutes allows staff a greater flexibility in managing their own learning needs at a time and pace that works for them. This “unbundling” of education has opened new opportunities for learning (Clayton Christensen).
Learning content broken down to smaller more digestible parts can provide new learning opportunities in this time of information overload. Access to this more informal learning can take many forms – blogs, tweets, video, vlog or collaboration tools to name but a few.
However, if you are starting out, where do you begin?
Using social media and networks to support professional practice and learning can be a great way to widen your professional contacts and find new learning opportunities. Time spent on line can contribute towards participatory learning for revalidation and support professional development for appraisal.
Using collaboration tools within organisations will become more common place in healthcare as staff begin to see the value of these new networks. Connecting with colleagues and sharing knowledge using Slack during the working day on a PC or mobile enables staff greater flexibility and access to a wide range of learning content. Sharing new practice as well as elevating best practice can be carried out easily on Slack as well as signposting to key reference materials to fully support staff as they manage their own learning needs.
There will always be a need for deeper learning through accredited programmes but the pace of change within practice requires us to have keep up to date on a regular basis and access to a wide variety of collaborative tools and social media platforms using bitesize learning may hold the answer for staff who ask, “How do I keep up to date?”.