Online submission for work placements: digital literacy issues

McDonnell, Claire, Pedreschi, Fran and Fox, Arlene (2014) Online submission for work placements: digital literacy issues. In: The 15th Educational Technology Conference of the Irish Learning Technology Association (ILTA). May 29th and 30th, UCD, Dublin, Ireland.


DIT's final year BSc Optometry undergraduates engage in a five month work placement in a community optician's practice. During this time they have to submit records and case studies into their DIT supervisors. Their external (practice) supervisors have to sign students off on various competencies and have to send monthly reports on the student into DIT. Up until this academic year all the records, case studies, competencies and reports were kept in hard copy and posted into DIT. This lead to numerous problems: late submissions, loss of submissions, difficulty giving students timely feedback etc. To try to address some of these problems an online system was established using Google App Script (GAS) service to allow some of the records, all of the competencies and all of the supervisor reports to be submitted and tracked online. As this was a pilot there were inevitably some technical teething problems which had to be teased out along the way but there were also some unanticipated digital literacy (digital reluctance might be a better description) problems from the students, the DIT supervisors and the external supervisors. Although GAS was chosen because it simplified user authentication and security, it created other problems because it does not run correctly in internet explorer and users who were logged in to their personal gmail accounts (as opposed to their student or supervisor accounts) could not understand why they could not access the system. In spite of the fact that almost all students and supervisors surveyed said that they felt the online system was better than the old paper system, those who encountered problems logging on initially immediately fell back to the old system. This paper discusses the problems in more detail and describes the solutions planned for the next iteration of the system.

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