In 2014 the first learners on the midwifery programme at Bournemouth University started to use OPALBU (Online Practice Assessment for Learning at Bournemouth University). They were then joined by students on the Adult Nursing programme and later this years all the Nursing programmes will be using. The mentorship training programme has also been added as has the practice element of the Social Work course
OPALBU is an intuitive, custom built system that can be accessed on any computer, tablet device or smart phone linked to the internet. Mentors create their own account and are then invited by students to have access to their portfolio, so they can review progress and have access to the skills and competencies relevant to the placement or stage of training. It enhances practice based learning without the need to negotiate paper based records.
Some preliminary research work has taken place that appears to demonstrate that as the result of adopting an electronic approach the quality and timeliness of feedback is improved in a number of ways;
- The number of words used by mentor in the final interview increases from on average 68 to 162 words.
- All students comment on the interviews and with the electronic system all interviews are date stamped and signed, whereas in the paper portfolios 32% were not.
- In the electronic portfolios 60% of mentors highlighted areas for future learning compared to 24% with the paper document.
- In the paper documents these areas for future learning tended to be vague whereas in OPALBU they were more specific and directive.
To find out more how the site works go to the Help and Resources section on the home page of the site at https://www.opalbu.com