||Lavinia McLean and Emmett Tuite,
||Social care students completing work placement have previously reported a feeling of disconnection from college and a reduction in engagement with academic material while on placement. While there is a need for students to fully engage with their placement the disengagement from academic learning can be a key obstacle for students making this key transition between professional and student identities. Appropriate navigation of these challenges offers the opportunity for key personal and professional development for the student. The current research is focussed on outlining the implementation and use of a specific moderated online interactive space designed for social care students on final practice placements. Thematic analysis indicates key personal and professional development for students who engaged effectively with this space, and increased engagement on a range of levels. Study results also indicate the benefits of this approach in bridging the gap between academic and professional skills, and in helping students to take academic knowledge into a practice environment. This research highlights the implications of these developments for individual students and for their growth as future social care professionals. Potential for further development of this approach is discussed, including the building of professional communities of practice within the field of social care, and for collaboration across a range of social care training providers.
||Placement, Online support, Professional Development, Theory to Practice.