OpenPhysio | A new physiotherapy education journal

I’m really excited to announce a new project that I’ve been working on together with the folks at Physiopedia. Today we’re launching an open access, peer reviewed journal with a focus on physiotherapy education, with a few features that we think are pretty innovative in the academic publishing space. The journal is called OpenPhysio and represents what we think is a fundamental shift away from traditional ways of thinking about how we share knowledge.

Here are some of the ways we think the journal is different to more traditional publication channels:

  • Immediate publication. Your article is available to the public almost immediately after submission.
  • Peer review is open and transparent. Authors work together with peer reviewers, and the reviews and author responses are published alongside the final article, together with DOIs that make them citable objects.
  • You retain your intellectual property at no cost. OpenPhysio does not require you to transfer copyright to the journal, and there are no page fees for published articles.
  • Articles are first class internet citizens. Your articles can be enhanced with images, audio, tagging, hyperlinks, and video.

We’re still in the early stages of the project (we have no publications yet) and there’s a lot still to iron out, but we’ve decided to make it public nonetheless. This is in line with our broader thinking about publication, which is to share stuff early and then hash it out in the real world. We have Editorial and Advisory Boards and you can have a look at our policies around open access and peer review.

Now, before you write and tell me that there’s no such thing as physiotherapy education (you’d be right, by the way) we want to be clear that this is a journal aimed at physiotherapists with an emphasis on teaching and learning. it’s not about suggesting that the way physiotherapists learn is somehow different to how nurses, physicians and OTs learn. But we do think that there’s a space to explore our context in ways that may not translate well into other domains.

We want to encourage submissions from physios who are interested in learning more about teaching and learning, whether you’re supervising students or less-experienced colleagues in the clinical and community contexts, or if you’re an academic responsible for teaching in undergraduate and postgraduate classrooms. If you’re interested in teaching and learning in a physiotherapy context, we’d love it if you would consider OpenPhysio as a channel to share your ideas.

If you’d like to know more about the journal, please contact the Editor or visit the website.

Why open licensing benefits everyone

In 2009 I started an online physiotherapy encyclopaedia called OpenPhysio. It was a space for me to run a few assignments with my 4th year students at the time, as well as a bit of an experiment to see what would happen i.e. would physiotherapists and physiotherapy students automatically create and edit an online physiotherapy encyclopaedia. At the time I was unaware of the excellent Physiopedia that had been started a few months before by a physiotherapist in the UK (@rachaellowe).

Looking back, I think that the two projects had different goals (I stand under correction here. Rachael, feel free to set me straight in the comments). OpenPhysio was always meant to be a bit chaotic and informal, while Physiopedia was more structured and rigorous in who was allowed to edit the content. I was thinking “interesting playground”, while Rachael was probably thinking “evidence-based resource”. Here’s an excerpt from the OpenPhysio About page:

“OpenPhysio is an attempt to create a database of high-quality, physiotherapy specific content that is free for clinicians, students and educators to use, modify and improve……Hopefully, in time, OpenPhysio will become a useful resource, not only for accessing free, high quality content, but also as a teaching tool. For example, by giving students feedback on each contribution they make. The usual concerns about the quality of the content (issues around references and credibility) and plagiarism apply but these obstacles should not be prohibitive and in fact could also be seen as teaching opportunities to educate students with regards improving their academic writing skills.”

A few weeks ago Rachael contacted me to let me know that OpenPhysio was getting heavily spammed and it dawned on me that I haven’t really paid much attention to the wiki over the past few years, besides writing up the experience for publication and as a conference presentation. By coincidence, the domain name renewal came up a few days later and I decided to pull the plug on the project. We’re doing some things with social networks and clinical learning right now and I can always embed a wiki there if we need one. When I told Rachael that I was going to let the domain expire, she asked if she could port some of the content from OpenPhysio to Physiopedia, which I thought was a wonderful offer from her. And, because all content on OpenPhysio was licensed with a creative commons license, I didn’t have to get permission from contributors to “give away” their content.

OpenPhysio will go offline at the end of June, 2011 when the domain name expires but happily the content that has been contributed during the past few years has found a home at Physiopedia. Which is why I think that when we make use of IP licenses that allow and promote openness, we get to more easily share and build on what we know and understand about the world.

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-06-06

Physiopedia: awesome physiotherapy reference site

I came across Physiopedia when the site creator, Rachael Lowe, followed me on Twitter.  Physiopedia is a free (to access, not edit) physiotherapy reference that has a great emphasis on being evidence based.  You must be a registered physiotherapist to get an account that enables you to contribute, which is how the site maintains quality control.  A quick overview of the articles reveals that this is indeed a high quality resource for physiotherapy clinicians, educators and students.  Perhaps the best thing about each article is not only the concise information it presents, but the reference list it provides for each article, pointing the reader to original resources.  It’s a very impressive effort.

You may wonder why I’m mentioning Physiopedia since my own site, OpenPhysio, is an attempt to be the same thing…a free physiotherapy resource for clinicians, educators and students.  There are however, some differences that I think are worth pointing out, the main one of which is the issue of licensing.  All the content published on OpenPhysio is specifically released under this Creative Commons license, which allows anyone to take that content and share, distribute and adapt the work, so long as they provide attribution to the original source, don’t make any money from it, and agree to share it under the same conditions.  I think this is an important distinction that in itself, is enough to differentiate the two projects.  Not that Physiopedia is using some heinous license, it’s just that it’s not specifically open.  The other thing that stands out immediately is the clean aesthetic and writing style of Physiopedia.

I think that there’s a lot of work that needs to be done on OpenPhysio if it’s going to participate in a field with such high quality content, but that’s the whole point isn’t it?  As long as there are people pushing this agenda, the future of free and open content is looking good.  At the end of the day, the more information that’s available for physiotherapists and students, the stronger we’ll become as a profession.

Note (06/04/09): I just received an email from Rachael stating that Physiopedia used the GFDL, a great license for promoting open content.

Medpedia: collaborative medical knowledge base

I got this link about Medpedia off Twitter from Jeff Nugent.  It’s a “collaborative, interdisciplinary, transparent” approach to sharing knowledge about health and medicine.  Content control is by only allowing registered users to contribute, with the general public able to suggest changes to an article.  Registration requires being approved by an editor, and only medical doctors or those with doctoral degrees can actually edit content.

It offers a “Plain English” version of each article, as well as a “Clinical” view for healthcare professionals, which is a great way of filtering content for users.  I haven’t looked deeply enough to tell how much of a difference there is between the two, but it’s an interesting idea to separating out content.

I’ve only had a brief look at the site so far but the interface is clean and user friendly, even though it’s still in beta.  I’m really looking forward to seeing what comes from this.  I’m interested to see how this compares with OpenPhysio, not so much in structure and content but in ideology.

Here’s the link:
http://medpedia.com

Some activity at last

It’s been a pretty busy morning so far, catching up on all the feeds that I’ve neglected over the past month or so.  Here’s a list of a few things I found that might be interesting to you.

Found Academic Earth, an online repository of video lectures by international scholars, which could be a useful resource.

Did some research on a social networking platform called Elgg that could be useful for the department, rather than relying on a hosted service like Ning.

Read this short article on differentiated learning spaces at Eduspaces (also powered by Elgg).

Gave some feedback on the OpenPhysio paediatric assignment.

Read a little more on the idea of open research (or research 2.0, online research communities), which is an approach I’d like to consider for the writing of my PhD.

Came across this interesting article on Social learning at C4LPT, a social media platform for learning that runs on Elgg.

Found this presentation on Slideshare about the 21st century classroom.

Found an article on the principles of web-based teaching at the Canadian Journal of Teaching and Technology.

Downloaded an article called Beyond constructivism: exploring future learning paradigms from Pedadogy.ir.

Followed a few people on Twitter.

The social construction of knowledge using a wiki

I’ve started a few projects in my department, one of which revolves around the use of wikis to create environments for students to engage more dynamically with both the content and each other.  The rationale is that deeper learning occurs when there is an understanding of the content that goes beyond the ability to recite tracts of it back to the teacher.  Another component incorporates the idea of social constructivism, which asserts that knowledge is created through social interactions, where groups build knowledge for themselves and for each other.

It seems that a wiki is an appropriate platform that fits well with this concept.  It allows collaboration from many students, separated in geography and time, to build on each others’ contributions leading towards the completion of a shared goal, all the while encouraging discussion around the content and structure of the content.  In my Applied Physiotherapy class, I’ve put aside a small section of the OpenPhysio website in order to evaluate the process.  Each group must complete an article on an appropriate topic assigned to them, as well as provide a critical review of another group’s topic.  They are also encouraged to make small grammatical and spelling corrections on any other topic they read.

I’m hoping that the process will highlight the benefits of truly working together as a group, as well as of the peer review and drafting processes.  Students should be more aware of how to structure documents with regular feedback, not only from the facilitator but also from each other.  The ability of the wiki to track changes over time will provide valuable information about how the document grows, who makes contributions, the challenges of group dynamics and a host of other data that might be useful in forming a more academic picture of the use of new technology in education.

Downtime

I’m on holiday for a couple of weeks so I’ll probably be posting less than usual, although I’ll still try to put up anything that’s vaguely interesting.

I’m going to try and put some work into OpenPhysio, adding more articles and improving the ones already available (up to 61 articles so far).  While the project is getting a reasonable number of visits nationally and internationally, it gets very few contributions to the articles.  While I’m happy to keep plugging away at the site myself, it’s going to take a very long time to aggregate a useful amount of information.  If you happen to visit it and are qualified (not necessarily as a physiotherapist) to make a small contribution that is either original or an improvement, please consider registering as a user and leaving the site a little better than you found it 🙂

Other than that, I plan to do a little gardening, visiting with friends and reading anything that isn’t an article, textbook or remotely work-related.

OpenPhysio launched

OpenPhysio is an attempt to create a free, online, learning resource for physiotherapy students, physiotherapists and physiotherapy educators that anyone can edit (think, Wikipedia for physio’s).  While I’m sure the idea of students creating content in a (*gasp*) non-accredited, non-peer-reviewed, unstructured and unsupervised environment is horrifying to some, I believe that this is partly where the future of education lies.

Rather than creating walled gardens and restricting students in what they can read, write and learn, why not give them the opportunity to find their own voices and to describe the world as they see it?  Of course, we’ll need to make sure they have the tools to navigate this brave new world and maybe that’s the problem.  Not that they’re doing it their way, but that we don’t always understand what their way is.  Oh, and also that they’re not doing it our way.

Bear in mind that OpenPhysio is a new project and as such is very limited in the scope of it’s content and the reliability of using it as a resource at this point is questionable.  However, rather than condemn it for it’s limitations, students and educators should look to it as a tool that can be improved by anyone.  I’m excited by the prospect of seeing what physiotherapy students come up with when we set them free, and how educators make use of new technologies to better facilitate the teaching and learning process.