Summer 2014 News for Healthcare

Progress on the development of the Learning Layers tools

In the first year we involved you in discussions about a few different tools which are being developed in the project to help support your informal learning at the workplace, based on the issues you identified. From January we asked each of the partner GP Practices to focus on one particular tool. First versions of all the tools have been shown to healthcare staff and further developments are underway following the feedback. For the latest on each of them, please see below:

Living Documents

You told us that you see great value in knowledge sharing and collaborating to develop knowledge both within the practice and between practices. However, this is tempered by your experience of increasing information overload particularly through email. There is a need to develop ways of sharing that are smarter – more relevant and tailored sharing of information and knowledge.

health news layers 1Living Documents is a tool for collaboratively developing ideas, plans and knowledge. Healthcare staff can create a document and then share it with a group of colleagues. Colleagues can then contribute to the document and all their suggestions/comments can be discussed, allowing the group to eventually agree on a confirmed version of the plan/document.We have been working with staff at one of our partner GP practices to co-design this tool. The first version was demonstrated at a workshop in June and healthcare staff told us that they can really see a benefit in using this tool for supporting learning activities and identified several scenarios in which they will explore using it within their GP Practices. Future newsletters will report back on this activity. For more information on the tool see the video on the Learning Layers website

Help Seeking

Some staff (particularly those who do not have colleagues in a similar role whelp_seekingithin the practice) reported that they can feel isolated and would really benefit from connecting with staff in other practices to share their questions, experiences and expertise. However, time pressures make face to face meetings hard and managing this networking through email can lead to info overload. Few staff currently reach out beyond their local and personal networks to more open national online networks. The Learning Layers Help Seeking tool is being developed to address this.

We are developing the Learning Layers Help Seeking tool with the support of one of our partner GP practices and two local healthcare networks. It allows healthcare staff to connect to colleagues from their local network, so they can ask questions and receive answers from trusted professionals. We have held workshops with the two networks to develop and test the tool. The participants were introduced first to LinkedIn, an existing professional networking tool, then to Help Seeking, our specific tool. Healthcare staff are being asked to use the system over a number of months and report back on where it was helpful and where improvements can be made. If you would like to give this tool a try, email to request an account. Currently we can provide accounts to Practice Managers, Data Quality Leads, Nurses and Healthcare Assistants in the Bradford City, Bradford District or Airedale CCG areas. You can read more here about our co-design work on the Help Seeking tool.

Bits and Pieces

You told us that time pressures and the need to focus on the “essential” learning and activities can mean that “nice to know” learning and innovations get missed or forgotten. SimilaBits&Piecesrly tracking informal learning so that it can be reported as part of appraisal or revalidation is difficult. Bits and Pieces is being developed to support the recording, organising, making sense and sharing of informal learning at the workplace. Healthcare staff can use the tool to collect material (notes, documents, images, weblinks etc) that they want to keep or develop. They can then review this material later in the system; creating organised views of the material that help them to make sense of the topic/area they are exploring. These can then be shared and/or used to help them to develop their ideas further perhaps leading to the collaborative development of a plan/document or reflection on this particular area of interest. These records of learning can then be shared with others and included as examples of Continuing Professional Development.

As with all the Learning Layers tools, Bits and Pieces has been co-designed by the Learning Layers developers, researchers and staff at our partner GP practices. The next version of the tool is currently being finalised and it will be tested by a small group of healthcare staff over the summer. See the Learning Layers website for a video describing this tool.


reflectFinally we are also developing Reflect, a voice-controlled app for collecting your thoughts to reflect on later, for example upon leaving a training course. The Reflect tool allows you to create your own sets of reflection questions to ask after a learning episode; plays these questions and records your answers on your smartphone and converts these to text, which you can then develop further or import into another system. Read more

Tools to support learning 

bird_healthThe idea of Learning Layers is to support learning, so when we come across tools which already exist, we want to promote these (not just our own tools!).

Our research has led us to a great professional networking site using Twitter, whose founder was recently named in the HSJ NHS Social Media Pioneers Awards. @Wenurses is a group which holds Twitter chats on Thursday evenings, where professionals meet virtually to share opinions, ask questions and enjoy each other’s virtual company! Specialised @Wenurses communities (e.g. for Mental Health nurses, LD nurses) have been launched and the community continues to grow.

You need to sign up to Twitter to post to the group but you don’t need an account to simply check out the conversations. Just visit

(The site also includes a “Twitterversity” giving a great introduction and user guide for those new to Twitter).

Getting involved

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

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