FAQ

Educational

Who can I learn with while on placement?

Placements are an ideal opportunity to learn about your future work role. Make the most of this opportunity by talking to other people on your placement (e.g. your placement supervisor or coordinator, other professionals within and outside of your discipline), working in a team and connecting with people who are not physically on placement with you (e.g. people from your study, professional and personal network). There might be other students on placement with you who you can check in with to discuss your experiences, achievements and challenges. Talking and learning with others will enrich your experience.

How do I know if I’m at risk of failing?

Each university course has its own assessment ratings and criteria. Check in your placement outline what is required to pass your placement. Assessment should not be a passive activity. The more you participate in your assessment the more you will understand whether you are likely to pass or fail. It is also good practice to discuss assessment with your placement educator and academic coordinator before or at least at the very beginning of placement. This will avoid miscommunication and surprises later. If you are not sure, but think you might be at risk of failing, the best thing to do is to ask the appropriate professional who is responsible for your assessment.

How do I connect with lecturers?

How you connect with your lecturers while you are on placement depends on what you and your lecturers have negotiated. Do not assume that your lecturers are available at all times on all online platforms. Check with your lecturers what is their preferred communication channel and at what times you can expect responses from them.

How do I connect with other students?

How you connect with other students while you are on placement depends on what you and your peers have negotiated. Do not assume that other students are available at all times and on all online platforms. Check with them what the best communication channels are and at what times you can expect responses from them. It is a good idea to find out which other students will be on placement at the same time or in the same host organisation as you. In addition to that, it might be worthwhile connecting with students from other universities and from other courses and disciplines that are on placement with you.

How to capture and promote my learning achievements?

Your course and/or placement outlines might include requirements on how to capture and promote your learning achievements on placement or for your entire course. You can also discuss this with your university’s career advisors.

It is a good idea to think about developing your professional portfolio for future employment prospects. LinkedIn is a very widely used platform that can accompany you into your working life. Learning to use LinkedIn well to capture achievements and collect (and give) endorsements takes time. Read more about digital presence here.

Who do I ask for feedback?

Receiving feedback about how you are going on placement is essential to help you learn and develop as a professional. For richer and more complete feedback consider seeking feedback from various sources. There is an art about asking, receiving and dealing with feedback. Effective and constructive feedback needs to be clear, honest, constructive and open.

How do I make sense of feedback?

Receiving feedback plays a critical role in your learning on placement but it can only be valuable if you can make sense of the feedback you have received so you can act on it in the future. Feedback on placement is dependent on the person giving feedback, the person receiving feedback and the workplace context and culture. Remember, feedback is not rocket science, but it can have an uncomfortable emotional impact on you. It can make you feel defensive. Being a passive receiver of feedback is not the best way of making sense of and coping with feedback either. Engaging in a dialogue about feedback is the optimal way to learn, improve and change the way you practise in the future. So if you are unsure or did not understand the feedback you received, the most effective way to find out is to follow up on that feedback. Ask the person who provided it to help you make sense of it.

How to use social media for learning?

Social media can be a great way to keep you engaged with your workplace learning. You can enrich your learning with staff and professionals in your placement by connecting with your social media network. However, consider the following: Do you have access to the online platforms? Is the content relevant? And is the social network vibrant and responsive? To inform yourself more read on here.

How can I use audio and visual recordings for learning?

The visual and audio world is a different language to the written one. Using the recording or camera functions on your personal digital device is an alternate way to document your thoughts, impressions and insights. You can enrich your learning by creatively sharing your placement experiences. To learn more about using and caring for your audio visual materials click here.

Personal

How do I disclose my special needs, such as disability, mental health issues, personal carer responsibilities, etc.?

Deciding if you need to disclose personal information to your WPL educator or placement supervisor is an important matter. Some things are necessary to disclose – for example if they impact on your work performance and responsibilities. Other things may not be necessary to disclose. If you are unsure about whether you should disclose this information or not, please discuss it with an appropriate person, such as your university student counsellor or disability support worker. You can also find useful information on this subject at the Choosing Your path. Disclosure: It’s A Personal Decision. Also read CSU's WPL policy for students with a disability.

How do I find out about scholarships and grants to get financial support while on placement?

If you need financial support to help while on placement, there are several things you can do:

  • Check out your university’s ‘Scholarships’ webpage – here you’ll find information about what is available at your university and how you can apply.
  • Visit your university Student Welfare service – most universities offer information, advice and short-term financial support for education-related expenses.
  • It may also be worth contacting Centrelink to discuss whether you are eligible for a range of financial benefits such as Austudy and Rent Assistance.

How do I stay connected with my personal support groups?

You may find that your life gets very busy while undertaking a work placement. It can be difficult to stay in contact with family, friends and other networks. Staying connected is important for your personal wellbeing, but it may need to be managed carefully. It is not appropriate, for example, to use your time at work to catch up on Facebook or chat with friends on the phone or online. Stay connected to the people who are important to you by letting them know about your work placement. Discuss with them what impact your placement will have on your time. Make sure you allocate some time each week to catching up after hours or on the weekend. If you need extra advice or support regarding this topic, visit your university Student Counselling service.

How can I protect myself online?

Study and work involve using the internet and being online. Sharing personal information on the world wide web can sometimes leave you feeling vulnerable. It is important to ask yourself who can see your private information and what will happen with this information. It is also important to be careful in using social media. Online forums are a great way to share information and catch up with friends, but you may be subject to harassment or leave yourself open to identity theft. The Australian Government has produced a webpage with links to a variety of tips and resources to help you protect yourself online. If you are worried that your privacy has been violated, or are a victim of online harassment or cyber-bullying, please visit your university Student Counselling service for help and support.

Who can I ask for advice?

As a student you may have questions and concerns about your work placement and other matters. Your university offers a range of services to help and guide you. While on placement your onsite supervisor can help you with questions about your placement itself. You may also need advice about your study requirements, in which case the appropriate person to speak to would be your WPL educator or course coordinator. For personal issues, it may be more appropriate to have a confidential conversation with your university Student Counsellor, Disability Support Officer or Welfare Officer. You can also approach your university Careers Service for advice regarding work and career planning generally. If you need advice and don’t know where to start just visit your university webpage or contact the university general enquiries service. They can put you in touch with the appropriate person or service to help with your needs.

How do I offload emotional stress?

Working and studying can have an impact on your stress levels. Learning new skills and going to work can create extra demands on your time. You may also find other issues impacting on your work and study, such as relationship, financial or health-related problems. In all cases it is important to have strategies in place to manage your emotions and stress levels. Simple things like healthy eating, getting enough sleep and regular exercise can ease stress significantly and help you cope better with the problems you have to deal with. Your university Student Counselling service offers a range of services and resources to help students manage emotions and stress. This includes online information and resources along with a range of workshops, groups and one-to-one support and counselling to suit your needs. Visit their webpage for more details.

Where can I go if I feel depressed?

While feeling sad or low may be normal from time to time, having these feelings intensely over longer periods of time may mean you are suffering from depression. Depression is a serious condition and should not be ignored. If you are worried about feeling depressed then there are many places you can go for help. Your university Student Counselling service can offer a range of support. Visit their webpage or make an appointment to discuss your concerns today. There are also a number of other very useful websites available to help if you feel depressed. Headspace, Beyond Blue and the Black Dog Institute are all great services with loads of information and advice about depression and other mental health concerns.

As a university student you are entitled to free counselling through your university Student Counselling service. You’ll find information about this service on your university webpage. Most universities offer a range of options including online support, phone and face-to-face counselling. Services are confidential and provided by professionally qualified counsellors. Other oragnisations in the community also provide counselling support. Anonymous telephone counselling is available through Kid Help Line 1800 55 1800 and Lifeline Australia 13 11 14. If you’d like to visit a private psychologist for counselling see the Australian Psychological Society’s listing at ‘find a psychologist’.

Professional

How do I connect with my workplace educator?

Typically, your university organises your placement and provides you with information on how to make initial contact with your workplace educator (WPE). As a part of your initial meeting with your WPE, you should discuss with your WPE what their preferred way of communicating is and their availability. Your WPE may also use Twitter, Linkedin or other social media. Ask if you can connect with them in those networks too. If you don’t know how to make initial contact or have any queries, contact your university lecturer, placement coordinator or Professional Experience Unit.

How do I find out about social media policy in the workplace?

There are two main types of policies related to the use of social media and mobile technologies in the workplace.

Firstly, there are general laws, policies and guidelines governing information privacy and ethical practice in any workplace environment. These documents may include special provisions about the use of social media in the workplace. For example, one of the University of Sydney’s Privacy and Confidentiality rules for students undertaking clinical placements directly states that “privacy and confidentiality requirements must be maintained at all times” and that “This also includes any posting or discussion using social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter”. Charles Sturt University provides a detailed description of preservice teachers’ Professional, Ethical and Legal Responsibilities. They include detailed provisions about the use of social media sites, cameras and other mobile devices during placements.

Secondly, a workplace in which you are undertaking your placement may have their own policies and guidelines regulating responsible use of social media. This may include general policies, such as a code of conduct, or special social media policies. For example, NSW Department of Education and Communities has a special Social Media Policy, which applies to all department employees, including staff in schools. Various professional bodies also may have various special provisions on participation in social media. For example, Medical Board of Australia has such special Social Media Policy for registered health practitioners and students in Board-approved courses.

These policies help define responsible and ethical participation in online media and prevent unprofessional and inappropriate behaviour.

Ask your workplace educator about relevant policies regulating the use of social media and mobile technologies within your placement site. Your university lecturer or placement coordinator could also be able to provide you with information relevant to your university and general professional policies.

What are my role and responsibilities on placement?

Professional experience is a cooperative enterprise that involves you, the host organisation, and your university’s staff as well as administering institutions (i.e., the placement provider and your university’s Professional Experience Unit). Therefore, roles and responsibilities are shared between you and other parties. Your professional experience handbook, website or other resource should contain a section outlining roles and responsibilities of all parties, including yours. They may involve provisions related to the use of mobile technologies and social media that you should be aware of. For example, the roles and responsibilities of preservice teachers at The University of Sydney  includes a special provision about cybersafety, which requires preservice teachers to familiarise themselves with the foundations of ethical online behaviour at Cybersmart site. It also includes some special provisions on the use of mobile phones and social media.

When is it unprofessional to use mobile technology on placement?

Most institutions encourage participation in the digital economy and digital citizenship, and support responsible engagement with social media for purposes that enhance professional work and professional development. However, they also seek to prevent employees from unprofessional behaviour and misconduct arising from inappropriate engagement with social media or various (miss)uses of mobile technologies. For example, unless done for educational purposes in accordance with school policy, it is considered unprofessional for teachers to use mobile phones in the classroom to make or receive phone calls, send texts or take photographs without proper consent. Some institutions have special ethical guidelines regarding media and online etiquette. For example, CSU’s Professional, Ethical and Legal Responsibilities for students in Teacher Education and The University of Sydney’s Professional Email Etiquette for students in Health Sciences also applies for email communication during placement. If you are not aware of such special digital media or online communication etiquette, then you should follow typical general expectations for professional code of conduct: be honest, be polite, demonstrate professional values, and use common sense for making judgements about appropriate behaviour.

How do I prepare for my placement?

Your professional experience handbook, website or other resource should contain the information that will help you prepare for your placement. It will also contain main policies, guidelines and other information related to the use of social media and mobile technologies.

To maximise the benefits that can arise from the use of mobile technologies during your placement, read the next FAQ  item on ‘How do I prepare to make the most of the learning opportunities on placement?’

See also the GPS for WPL’s section on ‘Before placement’.

How do I prepare to make the most of the learning opportunities on placement?

Mobile technologies and social media networks are powerful tools that can help you enhance your workplace learning (WPL) experience. This resource, the GPS for WPL, offers information that will help you achieve this. We encourage you to explore the following topics before going on placement:

How do I access professional information?

Various professional bodies and government organisations produce useful general  professional information sheets and resources as well as information on the use of social media and mobile technologies in the workplace. You may find the following links useful:

What impact might my personal social networking have on my current or future career?

Social media can have positive and negative effects on your future career. All depends on how you use it. As a future professional, you need to consider both sides equally and carefully.

In most cases, educational and health organisations support the appropriate use of technology in the workplace and encourage their employees to be responsible and fluent users of digital technologies in their work and professional development. They also expect early career professionals to be digitally literate. Therefore, it is usually worthwhile having a professional presence online.

Joining professional online networks can help you extend your connections and be part of a professional community. This can enhance your future employment opportunities. However, it can also harm your career if you use these networks in an unprofessional manner or have an inappropriate personal social media presence that can be accessed by all online. Further, there are some potential risks associated with mixing professional and personal networking. You should think carefully, if you want to use your personal Facebook account for work purposes and become a Facebook friend with your workplace educator, university staff, young students from your practicum or other professionals.

How do I critique practices?

As a general rule do not use social media for anything that could potentially cause somebody’s embarrassment, harm people in other ways, or have a negative impact on your university’s or host organisation’s reputation. So think twice before you post AND if you doubt, leave it out.

However, this does not mean that you can’t be critical about your work placement and learning experiences. You can discuss your experiences with your workplace educator, but if you are concerned that this may affect your relationships, then give feedback or share your reflections with your university lecturer and/or the placement coordinator.

How do I improve my practice with mobile technology?

Mobile technologies can be used to improve your work and help you in your professional development in many ways.

One way might be to watch carefully how your workplace educator and other practitioners in your host organisation use mobile technologies. They probably already have some “tools and tricks of the trade” and might be willing to share them with you. So don’t hesitate to ask questions. You might find that they use various apps to help them complete common tasks efficiently, or use mobile devices for quick access to reference materials as they go. You might also be able to share some of your own resources and apps that you already use and find useful.

Another way might be to join a professional network or magazine and subscribe to their alerts and e-newsletters. For example, Educational Technology and Mobile Learning. By regularly reading their news, you will find out about different and valuable ideas and tips that you might want to try. Choose carefully who you ‘follow’ ‑ select those who post high quality relevant information ‑ and do not try all possible innovations and apps ‑ choose a few and invest time in learning how to use them effectively. If you find them useful, stick with them. Remember, quality matters more than quantity, and learning to use app effectively takes time.

What is a digital presence?

Increasingly, employers and colleagues are researching prospective employees online. So having an accurate and up-to-date profile on a platform such as LinkedIn (or ResearchGate and Academia for researchers) is vital. Think of it as your 'online reputation management'.

What are Internet etiquettes? What is netiquette?

Netiquette is the set of standards about how to behave online. Each culture has its own ideas of what it means to behave properly, and this includes online cultures. Things you say or the way you say it that are acceptable when you are online with your friends may not be appropriate in interactions in professional online settings with placement colleagues, teachers and fellow students.

Test your netiquette skills.

Technical

How do I access information while on placement?

While on placement, you will require access to information, some of which will relate to your placement site and your university studies. You should not assume that your host workplace will provide you with access to the internet. You may want to contact your workplace educator or placement coordinator and enquire about conditions of use as well as access to internal information about your workplace placement. Your university IT helpdesk can also provide you with tips and ideas.

What are Internet etiquettes? What is netiquette?

Netiquette is the set of standards about how to behave online. Each culture has its own ideas of what it means to behave properly, and this includes online cultures. Things you say or the way you say it that are acceptable when you are online with your friends may not be appropriate in interactions in professional online settings with placement colleagues, teachers and fellow students.

What is a blog?

A blog (‘web log’) is a series of entries or posts published by a person or group on a particular topic or theme. Blog posts may include text, images, video and links to related resources and other blogs. Readers can comment and discuss the topics covered with the author and with others. Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr are popular microblogging platforms that allow rapid sharing and re-sharing of images, video and brief messages.

Blogs and microblogging platforms are powerful social media tools as they allow anyone to instantly and publicly share their own actions, thoughts and views, and those of others. It is important to carefully consider how you manage privacy and confidentiality of your host organisation during and after your placement. Check with your workplace educator and university teacher or placement supervisor before posting any material about your placement organisation or your experiences there.

What is a wiki?

Wikis are web sites that members of a group can quickly edit and publish. Wikis are useful for groups to use to co-ordinate their activities or collaboratively develop ideas or documents. This video explains some of the uses of wikis. Your university Learning Management System (LMS) may provide you with a wiki for your work on team projects.

Who can I ask for advice?

Increasingly, employers and colleagues are researching prospective colleagues and employees online. So having an accurate and up-to-date profile on a platform such as LinkedIn (or ResearchGate and Academia for researchers) is vital. Think of it as your 'online reputation management'.

Privacy, Confidentiality and Security

What are the privacy and confidentiality laws to consider?

How/do I need to gain consent?

Your placement confidentiality agreement will outline the host organisation’s requirements and your state’s rules and laws that govern how you protect the confidentiality of others while on placement.

It is important that you carefully read legal documents and placement agreements, then discuss, with your teachers, supervisors and host organisation, their expectations and their impact on your conduct at work and online.

How can I manage my privacy online?

Each of us need to decide how much personal information we are comfortable sharing publicly. The risk of identity theft increases with each specific identifying piece of information, such as the school you attended, the year you were born and where you live.

But it is also easy to share information without intending to. For example, many phones and apps track your location. You can search for websites that explain how to turn off these features.

So manage both your technology and your own disclosure so you know and are comfortable with what you are sharing.

How can I protect myself online?

Study and work involve using the internet and being online. Sharing personal information over the internet can sometimes leave you feeling vulnerable. It is important to ask ‘who can see my private information?’ and ‘what will happen with this information?’. It is also important to be careful in using social media. Online forums are a great way to share information and catch up with friends, but you may be subject to harassment or leave yourself open to identity theft. The Australian Government has produced a webpage with links to a variety of tips and resources to help you protect yourself online. If you are worried that your privacy has been violated, or are a victim of online harassment or cyber-bullying, please visit your university Student Counselling service for help and support.

What are Trolls, Flamers and Cyberbullies? What do they do?

Trolls harass and upset others online with inflammatory messages on blogs or chat rooms. Flaming is a form of abuse and bullying that occurs online and in social media. The best approach is to ignore trolls, flamers and bullies, as they will get bored and go elsewhere.

What do I need to know about copyright, intellectual property, plagiarism?

  • Who controls the context?
  • How/do I need to gain consent?

Intellectual Property

The ownership of any work you produce during your placement will need to be negotiated with your host organisation. Often these placement agreements state that you may present work you completed at the host organisation with their permission. Refer to your agreement or discuss with it your university teacher or placement co-ordinator for specific guidance.

Copyright

Even when an image or written work is publicly available on a website or social network, someone has created that work and owns it. You need permission of the creator of the work to use it. If the author has a Creative Commons license, you have permission to use the work as that license allows.

You can find images you can reuse on Google or flickr.

Plagiarism

Plagiarism when you use a chunck of writing from someone else whithout referencing them. It is not necessarily done intentionally, but it is wrong because the reader will assume you are the author. Also, however, challenging it might be, by simply cutting and pasting rather than synthesising or rewriting it with your own words, you waste an opportunity to learn. Research shows that plagiarism is more likely to occur when work has been left to the last minute. So start early, get help if you need it and remember: everything takes much longer than you think - even when you plan with that in mind!