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Distance learning with a difference - overcoming barriers to service user involvement in radiotherapy education

Williamson, Keren and Pope, Emma Louise 2012. Distance learning with a difference - overcoming barriers to service user involvement in radiotherapy education. Presented at: 2012 CoR Annual Radiotherapy Conference, Birmingham, UK, 27-29 January 2012.

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Introduction Cardiff University has previously engaged with radiotherapy service users acting as patient advocates in a ‘question and answer’ session to promote an understanding of their experiences. Although the session was deemed to be of value for service users and students, feedback suggested that the environment for the learning activity was ‘unsuitable’, ‘uncomfortable’ and rather ‘intimidating’ and a possible barrier to achieving the learning outcomes. Having no available alternative, the venue used was a standard teaching room which appeared to be the main limitation for this type of interaction. In addition to the concerns raised, there were also logistical constraints related to distance and access to the university site, the cost of transport and the mobility of service users which ultimately limited involvement to local, relatively fit volunteers. In order to overcome this, a successful bid for equipment from the Higher Education Academy in Wales enabled the purchase of equipment to set up a web link with a group of volunteers at an agreed, convenient location. Method and Materials Using webcams, audio conferencing equipment and a dongle for pre-paid internet access, a link was established via Skype™ and a narrative facilitated between the volunteers in their community and students in the academic setting. The efficacy of the activity in terms of student learning outcomes was evaluated through individual reflection and focus group discussion. In accordance with ethical practice, and in recognition of possible distress, service users and carers were encouraged to give their own feedback regarding participation and information relating to support and counselling was offered. Results Students’ reflections reinforced the ‘value added education’ notion of service user involvement, developing their understanding of the patient experience beyond radiotherapy. Although some students stated difficulty in interpreting body language and missing visual cues, the majority were comfortable with using the technology in this context. Conclusion Students consider technology to be integral to contemporary education and embrace its inclusion in learning activities. This project demonstrated the benefits of utilising technology for students, overcoming logistical and geographical barriers to provide a unique opportunity for an insight into patients’ experiences.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Healthcare Sciences
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
R Medicine > RM Therapeutics. Pharmacology
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 03:59

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