The project is piloting digitised midwifery clinical practice portfolios and automation of some related processes. This was a longstanding objective and, in response to marketing emails from MyKnowledgeMaps, in April 2015, Rhian Barnes (retired), Janet Israel and Mike Johnson successfully bid for £5000 of School Innovation funds to support a pilot of MyProgress with the newly revalidated BM programme. New clinical placement portfolio documentation had been written for the programme and Janet took the lead on translating this into an electronic format.
With hindsight, we question whether the pilot was adversely affected by being introduced at a time of such large-scale changes. The programme team decided to require students to complete paper and electronic records in December 2015 over governance concerns: the email validation of mentor sign-off of competencies they felt were not robust enough. Students could fill in email verification innocently where their mentors were supposed to ‘sign’. Email addresses were also clumsy to fill in and error-prone. This entailed verification emails bouncing or even arriving at the wrong address, defeating the object of the supposed enhanced security. Mentors faced a new workload in terms of checking their verification emails… assuming they had an email address, and that they could get relatively easy access their inboxes. With so many emails being generated, mentors with inboxes would find them filling up quickly which was another cause of bouncing. Emails in some cases were only kept by clinical IT systems for a month making an email based audit trail impossible.
Around this time, student evaluation of the pilot indicated that inadequate hardware was a threat and so a bid was made to Welsh Government for £32000 to replace the £40 android GoTabs with iPads. It was hoped that this would negate hardware from hindering the successful evaluation of MyProgress, as identified through a focus group with students in February 2016.
Enhancements in the MyProgress system were expected to resolve the competency sign-off governance concerns. These were delivered through an upgrade in MyProgress (Version 6.1) allowing handwritten signatures on the tablet screens as well as a change in the way that competencies were validated. Feedback identified that typing mentor email addresses for every single competency was onerous and error-prone – there are over 150 of these. It was decided to require email addresses only for summative elements of the portfolio, when a combination of email and handwritten signatures would be required. This beneficial change required re-authoring large parts of the electronic portfolio in MyProgress. This in turn caused problems of losing track of how many of a given activity the student had achieved. An enhancement request was posted with MyKnowledgeMaps so that counts of reversioned assessments could be linked..
The screen signing verification was thought to put students off from ‘signing’ in the wrong places, even though it was less rigorous. It was also very much quicker and less problematic than email signatures. We realised and argued that a high level of security was only really necessary on the summative assignment assessments. This would dramatically reduce the problems and threats associated with the email verification and maximise the benefits of it too.
Eventually a project steering group was set up in the School, which met first in July 2016, recommending that, with the agreement of the programme team, with the changes to sign-off, we should eschew paper in favour of electronic-only portfolios for year 2 of the September 2015 and the freshers of 2016. iPads were warmly received by staff, and the September students were given theirs in September and October.
A lot of work has gone into laying a foundation for the project’s continuance. This includes:
1. Bidding, procurement and deployment, of devices and software.
2. Ongoing support of equipment and software.
3. Authoring and amending the portfolio in MyProgress.
4. Drafting a device loan agreement.
5. University governance discussions (College, GOVRN, PMITS).
6. University IT configuration – monitoring of mal-addressed mentor emails bounces.
7. School and inter-school IT liaison.
8. University e-Portfolio Project Group.
9. Health Board liaison.
10. Networking with other institutional users of MyProgress.
Following the user group being established (it first met 15th July 2016 in London, second meeting was 26th Oct 2016 in York) a JISCMAIL email list/group has been set up by Mike: http://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/ACCREDITINGPRACTICE
The pilot has identified issues which would need to be addressed to take the project forward within the BM or another programme: cost is one of the most significant.
1. Our pilot adopted a model whereby students were given devices although variant models exist which mitigate or negate this cost.
2. It has been difficult to estimate the increased demand of MyProgress on School IT support although this appears to be minimal with a small cohort. Software system support is out-sourced. Questions remain though, for example, with recycling the GoTab7’s.
3. The MyProgress License paid until Sept 2017 and it remains to be seen whether the School can support this cost.
4. Further roll-outs requires serious planning:
a. to include a dedicated member of academic staff to recreate the paper-based portfolio into the MyProgress system.
b. Health Board liaison at every stage, including mentor training to assure clinical area acceptance of digital methods.
c. Student involvement and buy-in is also crucial.
5. The full impact on academic staff time through continuous access to portfolios online
MyProgress appears to have the potential to make a major beneficial contribution to the School in a number of ways, including cost and efficiency savings.
1. Placement Timesheets are currently a manual paper-based process
2. Placement/Mentor management - link with upcoming placement management system?
3. Attrition – automating early warning of 'at risk' students
4. Replace the ‘at risk’ systems that do some of the same work as offered by MyProgress
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