Case study: Video calling

Video-calling as a real time blended learning tool

Samantha Pywell – Lecturer, School of Sport and Health Sciences

Video-calling is used at UCLAN to engage Occupational Therapy students with clinicians in the real world. Practitioners who videocall in could be considered “floating heads”. This can be done using platforms such as Skype or video-calling within Teams. Clinicians were invited to contribute to student learning by joining the session by videocall. Clinicians introduced themselves, their role, and had prompts to connect this to the student learning experience for that day (e.g. social psychology and lower limb anatomy). Student satisfaction, as trialled with MSc Occupational Therapy students, was high particularly due to the ‘freestyle’ section where students have the freedom to ask their ‘floating head’ their own questions and answer.

The existing challenge for Occupational Therapy practitioners, is the lack of time and support to be released from work to attend CPD opportunities due to the immensely busy real world of practice. Practitioners cannot always also get funding toward travel and carparking to attend at university. Geographically the university may not always fall within reasonable travel when considering life outside of clinical practice (e.g. being a carer, parent or having other responsibilities or commitments).

Practitioners can videocall into university from wherever they are – whether it be in their parked car, from their work office or from home increasing their use of time. This creates a flexible and dynamic CPD opportunity for clinicians who have reported increased intent to engage and take part. It can also help extend the scope of the universities community to include practitioners who hold immensely valuable contemporary knowledge about the realities of clinical practice for Occupational Therapists. The technology is free to use by staff and students on campus.

MSc Occupational Therapy students reported significant increase in satisfaction within the session. The session, using a blended learning approach, connected the real-world work environments (of an OT working with a paramedic in a falls car waiting for referrals via 999, and an OT working in a child and adolescent mental health service which, neither of which were within a short drive of UCLAN).