A4: Use of Learning Technology

ORMS continually strives to enhance the quality of education provision to its students whilst operating in a commercially competitive but ethical manner.  The provision of iPads for students on professional courses seeks to;

  • enhance the student’s learning experience;
  • reduce the volume of printed waste;
  • increase commercial advantage.

It is understood that individual students may have a preference for paper based materials rather than electronic media.  ORMS fully supports student individuality and as such seeks to ensure that students are not disadvantaged by the choice they make in their use of learning technology.  All learning materials are produced in such as a way as to be equally valuable whether accessed by iPad, desktop PC or printed media. The provision of iPads also seeks to provide each student with a means of accessing the internet that helps to overcome any financial disadvantage that purchasing electronic resources may present.

Using iPads (reasonably robust and user-friendly devices) provides a single device with a range of applications and pre-loaded materials that meet the needs of particular groups of students (home, work, field-based, and  struggling to fit learning into busy lives). Students are all using the same device and learning environment, which levels out inequalities and supports cohort learning.

The students gain access to the online support elements of courses through the internet.  The hardware and infrastructure necessary to gain access to the internet in the workplace/placement sites is confirmed during the educational audit process employed by ORMS.

The virtual learning environment (VLE) used by ORMS is based on a platform called Moodle.  ORMS uses Moodle to provide the students with access to;

  • downloadable handouts;
  • downloadable ORMS policies and procedures
  • online discussion forums;
  • learning materials;
  • formative tasks and quizzes to assist learning;
  • links to contemporary issues and articles related to Paramedic practice
  • links to provide feedback on placements, courses and modules
  • the facility to submit written assignments online

During the face-to-face elements of courses, the students participate in workshops, lessons, skills stations and scenario based activities.  To support these learning activities ORMS can produce printed handouts for the students to take and reflect upon later.

Enhancing Student Learning Experience

ORMS purchases sufficient iPads to ensure that all new students enrolling in professional courses have the option to loan an iPad from ORMS free of charge for the duration of their course. ORMS maintains a stock of iPads for use in the classroom for those students who wish to use them on an adhoc basis during the face-to-face components of courses.

The loan or use of an iPad is not obligatory, therefore ORMS still provides all of the facilities for progression through courses whether the student has an iPad or not.

 

 

Enhancements to learning experience facilitated by iPad use

Students who access to the course VLE and other online resources through portable devices (such as iPads) find their learning experience is enhanced in the following ways;

  • ability to download handouts from Moodle that are then portable, allowing them to carry numerous documents with them when away from their desks;
  • ability to download ORMS policies and procedures that are then portable, allowing them to carry these documents with them when away from their desks;
  • ability to download articles posted on Moodle relating to contemporary issues in Paramedic practice, allowing them to read these documents when away from their desks;
  • ability to produce written work for later submission when away from their desks.

As previously discussed, iPad loan is an optional facility offered by ORMS.  ORMS does not provide access to the internet away from the ORMS centre.  However, Wi-Fi can be accessed in a number of other ways:

  • Wi-Fi is available at the ORMS centre free of charge;
  • Wi-Fi may be available at the student’s home address;
  • Wi-Fi may be available at the student’s work/placement environment. However, this is not a requirement under the ORMS educational audit process as it is recognised that third party hardware may not be cleared for use on some organisational networks;
  • by “tethering” the device to the student’s own mobile device;
  • Wi-Fi is available through various cloud services offered at public sites, libraries, etc.

If the student chooses to use the iPad by connecting to Wi-Fi away from the ORMS centre, then their learning experience may be further enhanced by being able to:

  • participate in online discussion forums when away from desktop access;
  • access online learning materials when away from desktop access;
  • access formative assessment tasks and quizzes to assist learning when away from desktop access;
  • access links to provide feedback on placements and modules when away from desktop access;
  • make notes following placement experiences to support their reflective practice.

iPad utilisation during face-to-face teaching

Tutors are encouraged to use a variety of teaching methods in their delivery whilst ensuring that the methods used are appropriate to the task and that the use of new technology does not become a barrier to learning.  The use of new technology in the classroom should enhance the experience.

iPad use during face-to-face elements of courses has enhanced;

  • Online research or reference to learning materials during group or individual learning tasks in the classroom;
  • Still or video photography during scenario and practical skills work, to enable immediate feedback and critical review of learning activities.

Reduction in volume of printed waste

The amount of printed materials generated over the duration of a course is considerable.  In some cases, printed materials cannot be avoided, such as;

  • assessment documents requiring signatures;
  • portfolio of evidence requiring signatures from the student’s Practice Placement Educator;
  • other official documents, critical to the effective management of the programme.

However, the production of handouts, dissemination of policies/procedures, provision of articles for further reading, etc. do not necessarily need to be provided as printed media.  By facilitating the opportunity for students to opt for digital handouts, ORMS is able to reduce the volume of printed materials it produces in accordance with the ORMS Environmental and Social policy.

Increasing Commercial Advantage

There are substantial amounts of printed materials generated throughout courses.  By reducing the production of “avoidable” printed materials savings can be realised in both materials and staff time.

The introduction of the iPad loan scheme is a rolling initiative that provides those students enrolling on professional courses from 1 January 2016 with the opportunity to borrow an iPad for the entirety of their course.  For those students part way through their studies, the opportunity exists for short-term loan whilst attending their face-to-face components of the programme at the ORMS centre.  Students are also encouraged to use their own devices if available.