ScOPT is delighted to share our plans for ScOPTbox: Practice Learning Library, an online resource for practice teaching in Scotland and beyond.
The world of social work education changes continually. We, those involved in social work education, owe it to our students to be as well-equipped as possible to guide and support them through their learning journey towards, and after, qualification. It is becoming increasingly difficult for practitioners to keep up-to-date with practice developments and even more challenging for social service staff in local authorities to use the internet to stay informed (http://www.iriss.org.uk/resources/web-based-tools). Most practice educators are based in practice agencies that deliver services. They can be quite isolated from other practice educators and often struggle to engage in professional development opportunities at their Higher Education Institution. They often engage in their practice learning report writing at home where they often have better internet access than at work. It is envisaged that the provision of a wide range of practice learning resources online would help practice educators to become part of a community of practice in terms of evaluating and sharing those resources.
2. Summary of project
ScOPTbox is a web-based resource that will be populated with resources to support social work practice learning. These resources will be provided by the social work practice learning community in Scotland, who already operate as a community of practice within the Scottish Organisation for Practice Learning (ScOPT). Over time, ScOPTbox will be further developed to provide individual spaces to be used by practice educators in supporting their students.
3. The Vision
ScOPTbox will support the delivery and development of social work practice learning in Scotland and beyond. This resource will be a practice learning library and an online space which can be used by anyone working in social work education and practice learning in Scotland to set up sites to support learning, communication and collaboration.
We have a vision that this site will evolve in three ways:
- a collection of practice learning materials, contributed by members;
- a gateway to practice learning materials, in Scotland, across the UK, and internationally;
- hosted spaces for practice educators who wish to engage with students online, or provide secure access to resources for their students. Anyone can request a hosted space - they will have full administrative access to their part(s) of the site.
|Students||Practice Learning Library||Practice Educators will have access to a wider range of materials, available to them for working with students.|
|Students||Online Learning Spaces||Students will have access to private learning spaces where they can engage with their practice educators, thereby reducing time and cost for rural-based students and others for whom travelling to a central point would present a problem.|
|Practice Educators||Practice Learning Library||Practice Educators will be able to enhance their own professional development by having access to materials created and/or shared by colleagues|
|Practice Educators||Online Learning Spaces||Practice Educators will be able to provide the best possible support to their students by using the online spaces creatively|
|Practice Educators||Online Learning Spaces||Practice Educators will be supported to develop their own skills of working online by using the online spaces in a supported setting, initially with the help of the consultant and later with peer support.|
|University based colleagues||Practice Learning Library||University-based colleagues will be able to share resources in the depository. This will extend the service already provided by ScOPT, of disseminating information about professional development events hosted by universities and other organisations.|
|University based colleagues||Online Learning Spaces||Practice educators will be able to share their online spaces with university-based colleagues as the needs of the student require.|
|Wider social work education community||Practice Learning Library and Online Learning Spaces||These resources will impact positively on the whole social work education community in Scotland, in particular, by providing a practice educator led resource which can be used to engage a range of other colleagues in debates about social work education.|
5. Making our vision a reality
The development of this resource will involve a number of segments:
- The gathering of practice learning resources. These will be activities, useful readings and tools which are, or have been, used by practice educators in Scotland, and beyond, and which they wish to share with other practice educators to the benefit of students.
- Uploading these resources to ScOPTbox in a clear and well-signposted way, being clear about ownership and copyright permissions.
- Communicating the existence of ScOPTbox to those who may wish to use it and/or to contribute to its development
- Developing staff development materials and tools to enable practice educators to use ScOPTbox as a resource in terms of accessing the materials housed there and also as an online space for use with and for the benefit of their students.
- Supporting the use of ScOPTbox in the first year so as to embed the skills needed by practice educators.
6. Progress to date, and plans for the future
We announced a few weeks ago that Learning Network West have given us some funding to take this work forward.
We ran a competition to choose a name for the resource - and ScOPTbox: Practice Learning Library was a combination of the two winning entries. We think it's a great name... and it's going to do what it says it on the tin (apologies to Ronseal for the paraphrasing!)
The technical infrastructure for ScOPTbox is set up and ready to go. We're grateful to Focused on Learning for their technical expertise and assistance with this. It's running on Moodle, a leading virtual learning environment. You can get a sneak preview at www.practicelearning.info.
We advertised for a consultant to work with us on the collation and curation of materials for the site. We received a number of tender responses and we are delighted to announce that Jean Gordon has been appointed to carry out this work. Jean is an experienced consultant and practice educator, and she submitted a robust, well thought-out proposal which demonstrated insight into both our vision for ScOPTbox and the the complexities of the project. She had previously worked on compiling an Inventory of Learning Materials to support the PLQ(SS) [2008-9], and has also contributed to the Open University Professional and Practice Learning Environment [PePLE] website.
Over the next few months, things will start to take shape and we'll be in regular communication with lots of people to make our vision a reality.
We hope you share our excitement - this is a real step forward for practice education in Scotland. We know - and others have said too - that this will be of real value to practice educators across Scotland and other parts of the UK.
If you have any queries about ScOPTbox, please email firstname.lastname@example.org