A recent article published in Nature’s Science of Learning journal argued that educational app development needs to be informed by the neurosciences of learning and memory. Cognitive psychologists from European universities set out four key principles for optimising learning outcomes: testing, distribution of learning over time, a multi-media approach, and feedback. CuppaCare, the new digital learning platform for UK homecare workers, already incorporates these principles.
Developed with funding from the Ufi Trust (a grant-giving charity supporting the delivery of adult vocational skills through digital technology), CuppaCare is a complete mobile micro-learning service, consisting of
- a catalogue of bite-size learning items, called ‘Sips’ and delivered through a native app.
- an online platform that allows organisations to assign Sips to groups or individuals, and then track their use.
The platform also offers a Sip-authoring tool for organisations to create their own content.
CuppaCare promotes informal learning for care workers on the job, and can be blended into a formal learning programme.
One example of using the Sip is on ‘How to Empty a Catheter Bag’. Care staff can review the learning in four minutes: confirm they have the right equipment, receive reminders on hygiene, privacy and dignity, and then follow the seven steps to empty the bag. The Sip includes guidance on recording the urine, cleaning up and final checks.
Care managers can use the app with staff to build their confidence, provide reassurance when they’re not there, uncover knowledge gaps and refresh learning. They can track app usage and learner performance and use this to plan new learning objectives. The CuppaCare service is currently in its test phase and readers can trial an early iteration of the Sips for themselves by downloading the free CuppaCare Taster app.
CuppaCare Sips are designed so learners can complete them in five minutes. The Sips are interactive, multi-media items on specific tasks and topics relevant to social care. Each Sip presents learning content, tests, and prompts the extension of learning through reflection and discussion with educators and peers. On successful completion of the quiz at the end of each Sip, the system issues the learner with a digital badge, evidencing their engagement with the content.
Here’s how CuppaCare optimises learning outcomes and supports traditional learning, according to the four principles identified in the introduction:
The act of retrieving and applying information boosts learning far more than passive exposure to new material. CuppaCare Sips engage learners in quizzes and provide immediate feedback. Dementia care is increasingly vital in social care. CuppaCare Sips address specific aspects of this, one is on ‘Dementia care: help with food’. Here the quiz contains a series of statements which the learner can agree or disagree with, by tapping yes or no. Depending on the answer, a supportive corrective message or a confirmatory message appears instantly. Educators can track performance in the quizzes and use this to identify areas for classroom follow-up.
Distribution over time
Learning works best when it is spaced out, rather than addressed in a single session. CuppaCare Sips can be used to introduce new topics in advance of classroom lessons and to refresh previous learning. Multiple follow-ups could be interspersed over time to check learner retention. Educators and professional development managers can assign Sips in relation to real world activities. In a workplace setting, managers could use CuppaCare to remind staff about hydration in response to a forecast of hot weather. Educators can send reminders to learners to use the app and they can track individual usage through the platform.
CuppaCare Sips present information in multiple ways including text, images, video, and interactive features. This improves retention and expands access for people of all learning styles. The Sip authoring tool allows educators to experiment with different ways of presenting learning content and tailor Sips to specific individuals or groups.
As mentioned above, the Sips present immediate corrective and supportive feedback for learners. Each Sip also prompts the extension of learning through reflection and discussion with educators and peers. One example is ‘Respecting Confidentiality’ – learning content which covers the law for care workers on sharing personal information. The Sip provides follow ups to use in the classroom or workplace, e.g. Explain what to do if a client’s relative asks to speak to you about your client. These discussions create opportunities for learners to apply their knowledge to real world situations and further test their understanding.
Social care providers are currently piloting the CuppaCare digital learning service, and full release of the platform is expected later this year. The latest information is available from www.cuppacare.com.
Alexander Braddell, Content Lead at CuppaCare
Alex has extensive experience in workplace learning in social care, with special expertise in literacy and numeracy. He has authored learning resources for Skills for Care (including the highly regarded Learning through Work series), SCIE and the Learning and Work Institute, among others.