Developing effective learning communities of health workers/professionals in rural Australia
Students located in regional and rural/remote areas are disadvantaged not only geographically but also by social isolation, the demands for 24 hour service in remote communities, and the multiple roles they may be required to fulfil. Access to quality ongoing education and developing support networks are highly desirable to help retain key personal. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the Northern Territory (Australia) with its vast areas and small, scattered population. Outside the urban setting, effective professional development and learning support strategies require considerable flexibility and adaptation.
In order to compete on a level playing field, employees in rural/remote areas need access to quality education programs but in non-traditional modes of delivery. Understanding these circumstances will provide educational institutions with knowledge to more adequately support their students. This study explores the web of elements that are required to support students and enable them to learn-to-learn and maintain their studies in distance learning situations. Using a case study approach and focus groups, the learning needs and strengths of health professionals enrolled in an external graduate health science program have been documented. Strategies to develop and support self sustaining learning communities for external students are expected to emerge from the data, collection of which is currently in progress. This research has the potential to lead on to development of models of support for a wider range of disciplines, for example, medicine or education.
Project team:Allan Arnott, Ruth Wallace, Bev Turnbull
Project funding amount: $8,000.00
Project funding body: CDU
Project start date: 01/06/04
Project end date: 31/07/05