Welcome to this Learning Layers update. In this issue we look at some of the research being conducted by our partners, working with NHS healthcare professionals.
Learning in Healthcare Networks
One area of the Learning Layers research, led by colleagues at the University of Innsbruck in Austria, has focused on understanding informal learning and knowledge exchange in healthcare networks. This study involved interviewing healthcare professionals, who are involved in six networks from the UK health sector. Our colleagues present a summary of their findings relevant to the healthcare sector below
Study results – Challenges, solutions and recommendations
(the key challenges and problems identified by the interviewees)
(possible solutions to these challenges suggested by the interviewees)
(drawn from the interviewees’ suggestions)
|Information overload||Reduce information to the relevant points to make it easier to assimilate.Establish trustworthy sources which can filter some of the information||– Meaningful subject lines in emails- One topic per email- Define rules for what emails to forward to whom- Clear rules on when to CC people into emails|
|Communication with geographically dispersed members of the network||Efficient use of virtual communication channels and physical meetings||– Monthly/weekly virtual meetings- Commitment about communication tools|
|Interruption of daily working routines||Provision of learning time and relevant learning material||– Fixed learning times that do not interrupt working routines- Learning times should not interrupt working routines but be scheduled during working hours|
|Complexity of content and technology||Support for different media formats and technologies that fit with the habits of users||– Technologies could be provided by the networks which take into account the requirements and circumstances of users|
|“Free-riders” and little knowledge sharing||Increase members’ motivation to share knowledge||– Create awareness of the advantages of knowledge sharing by mentors/role models- Implement incentives for knowledge sharing|
|Unsuitable language for target audience||Language guidelinesNetwork managers to adapt learning material||– Adapt language of documents to the target group- Implement feedback to check that documents are easily understood|
|Concern about the quality of shared knowledge||Establish control mechanismsCreate a central database of high-quality knowledge||– Development of a catalogue of quality requirements- Assessment/administration of content in knowledge databases|
Implications for Learning Layers tools
Interviewees reported that filters and personalized services could help to overcome the challenge of identifying the best sources of relevant knowledge, and for assimilating this knowledge meaningfully without disrupting working practices. They also use multiple networks to benefit from a range expert knowledge and to generate their own ideas. Therefore,
there is a need for tools to help manage these dynamics and integrate the information streams of the different network Learning Layers will be exploring how our tools could provide some of this support.
Issues concerning data security and privacy with solutions from external providers were also highlighted. Although they are open to discussing standard and common knowledge, interviewees want to protect crucial knowledge that could be important for competitive advantage. The challenge is to find the right balance between sharing and protecting knowledge, as well as building in robust security features within the Learning Layers tools. Approaches to sharing and privacy are being explored with the groups who are currently testing some of the Learning Layers prototype tools.
University of Innsbruck | Department of Information Systems, Production and Logistics Management Universitätsstraße 15 | 6020 Innsbruck | Austria | http://www.uibk.ac.at/iwi
The Learning Layers tools
We continue working to develop and test the tools. Small scale trials are taking place with several GP Practices. Near the end of the year we expect to make these tools more widely available and to start the larger-scale evaluation.
|Living Documents||Help Seeking||Bits and Pieces|
|Our tool for collaboratively developingideas, plans and knowledge.||Our tool for connecting with staff in otherpractices to share questions, experiencesand expertise.||Our tool to support the recording,organising, making sense and sharing ofinformal learning at the workplace.|
|We continue to hold workshops with theGP practice which is co-designing this toolwith us. The second version of the tool iscurrently being used by a small group atthe GP Practice and feedback is beingcollected.Further development work is alreadyunderway following the feedbackcollected in the first tests. The ability totrack changes to the document is a keyextra function that is being added.||We have been reviewing all the feedbackand ideas gathered during our workshopslast year with two healthcare networks.This has helped us to get a clearer idea ofthe real priorities for these groups and todevelop a revised development plan.The development is now underway on thefirst version of the new tool. This aims tohelp bridge the gaps between meetings –providing support for working groups totake their work forward – maintainingmomentum and staying focused.||We are continuing to work closely withthe GP Practice who are co-designing thistool with us. The third version of the toolis currently being tested by a group withinthe practice. The group contains a mix ofclinical and administrative staff. The Bitsand Pieces tool is being used within theirnormal working practice for 2 months.|
Have we got our focus right?
If you’d like to get more involved with Learning Layers, have any suggestions for us or would like to feed anything else back to the team, we’d love to hear from you. Email us to firstname.lastname@example.org.