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.

WCPT course: Creating and running an open online course

I’m in Singapore for the 2015 World Confederation for Physical Therapy Congress, which is the largest gathering of physiotherapists in the world. I’ve never been to a WCPT Congress before, so I’ve really been looking forward to this for a while now.

Tomorrow I’m presenting a half day course with Tony and Rachael Lowe from Physiopedia, called “Creating open online courses“. We’re going to try and figure out, together with participants, if there’s a place for these kinds of online (or blended) courses in formal physiotherapy education. I believe that it was one of the first courses to sell out at the conference, so there’s definitely an interest in the topic.

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We’ve set up our workshop so that the major concepts we’d like to cover are presented, not as PowerPoint slides but as an online course that anyone can work through (see image below). We included our topics, learning outcomes, content overviews and resources on the wiki at Physiopedia, as well as set up a shared online workspace in Google Drive. Course participants will work through the topics in small groups, using the topics in the online course as inputs for discussion, and then collaboratively document what they are thinking and learning during the course. We will act as facilitators and guides, presenting the initial concepts, adding a few thoughts from our own experiences and then facilitating group discussions. We thought that this might be an interesting approach (for this topic in particular) where instead of participants simply being introduced to the concepts involved in open online learning, they actually work in that space themselves.

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It’s a bit of an experiment so we’d really like to hear comments and feedback, not only from course participants but anyone else at the Congress who thinks that this might be a useful way to run future workshops. The hashtag for the workshop is #wcptooc, so please feel free to send a comment or question, whether you’re signed up for the course or not. We’d love to be able to incorporate thoughts and ideas from people who aren’t in the room.

On a related but separate note, part of the reason for me being here is also a funded research visit to try and set up meetings with potential collaborators for our International Ethics Project. If you’re interested in collaborating on an international research project that aims to develop and run a course in professional ethics across multiple institutions, I’d love to hear from you (there’s a Contact page on the site).

Interview: The use of technology-mediated teaching and learning in physiotherapy education

Selection_001I was recently asked to do a short interview by Physiospot, on the use of technology-mediated teaching and learning in physiotherapy education. As it turns out, the bulk of the interview relates more specifically to a Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, rather than the use of technology. However, I think that this makes it potentially more relevant for physiotherapy educators, especially those who may not be interested in the “technology” aspect. Thanks to Rachael Lowe at Physiospot for the invitation to chat.

Here is the link to the interview.

PHT402 online course accreditation

The #pht402 Professional Ethics course has just been accredited by the South African Society of Physiotherapists and Health Professions Council of South Africa for 6 Level 2 Ethics CPD points. If you are a South African physiotherapist and would like to take part in the course, please register here before 9th August.

Image from opensourceway's Flickr stream
Image from opensourceway’s Flickr stream

Over the past few weeks I’ve been running an open, online course in Professional Ethics for my 3rd year students, in collaboration with Physiopedia. Check out the project page for the details of the course, including the context and background. I also received ethical clearance from our institutional review board to study the process and outcomes.

One of the major decisions we made was to invite qualified physiotherapists to participate as well. We wanted to encourage interaction between our students and the “real world”, that intangible place we say we’re preparing our students for. In return, participants external to the university would receive a badge from Physiopedia. These badges are compatible with Mozilla’s Open Badge standard and so have value outside of the Physiopedia ecosystem.

Until recently the course was only an interesting experiment among our 3rd year students and the 26 international physiotherapists who are also participating. However, I’m now very happy to announce that the SASP and HPCSA have accredited the course for 6 Level 2 Ethics CPD points. They had an additional requirement for participants to write a short test at the end but other than that, the course was accepted as is.

By accrediting the course the SASP and HPCSA have given this method of learning a degree of legitimacy that I find really exciting from two organisations that I think are traditionally quite conservative. It’s one thing for it to be recognised as an interesting research project and quite another for the professional bodies to recognise it’s potential to provide learning opportunities for geographically distributed professionals. A significant challenge for qualified South African physiotherapists obtaining their annual Ethics CPD points is that the courses are most often only offered in major city centres (requiring travel and sometimes overnight accommodation) and the registration fees are usually quite high. Our course is online and self-paced, which acknowledges the unique time constraints of individuals, and is free.

Now that we’ve set a precedent, we’ll offer the course every year and try to build a model for physiotherapy education for appropriate subjects through distance learning. This has potentially massive implications for the profession in terms of:

  • Moving learning away from the classroom, which will impact on physical space requirements
  • Connecting the university to health care professionals at a global level, bringing in many unique perspectives from “the real world”
  • Introducing a host of digital and information literacies for participants
  • Emphasising a student-centred, self-directed approach to learning that empowers learners to take control of their learning
  • Opening up further opportunities for collaboration between academia and the profession

Watch this space for further details. On a related note, I’ve also entered the course into the Reclaim Open Learning Contest, which is being run by MIT. I’ll be sure to post the outcome here.

Constructing a blog post for the PHT402 Ethics course

This is a post for participants in the #pht402 Professional Ethics online course being run by the University of the Western Cape and Physiopedia. Many of our participants have little or no blogging experience, so this post is intended to provide some suggestions and resources that may be useful when learning how to write your own posts. You should explore the additional content provided here through hyperlinks, as they are aimed at helping you to develop your blogging skills.

The point of this course is that you work with the ideas of other people to inform your own thinking about a topic. So, for the benefit of everyone taking the course you need to read other peoples work and you want them to read yours. A reader will often decide in the first few seconds if they’re going to read your post, which gives you very little time to make a good first impression. One way to encourage them to continue is to begin with a bit of introductory text (like I’ve done above), or to ask a challenging question, or to come up with a controversial or interesting title for your post. I’m not saying that this post is perfect but in it I’ve tried to show some examples of the different elements that can help make your writing both contextually and visually interesting, and which will encourage others to engage with you.

First of all, you should be aware that blogging can help you to develop certain skills, which could have value in your professional life, above and beyond what you may learn in this course. Being aware of these skills and actively trying to develop them will show returns in your professional career in the future. Here are some good reasons to consider blogging:

Incorporating other elements into your post will help to create interest for the reader. Embedded videos and images are great to break up long passages of text, as well as to provide contextually rich multimedia content that supports your writing. Since one of the major aims of this course is to think about the concept of empathy, I’ve embedded one of my favourite TED Talks below in order to demonstrate what an embedded video looks like.

You should also use links in your posts, for two main reasons; they direct the reader to additional resources and they can be used to support claims that you make. If you write something that’s just your opinion it won’t carry much weight. But, if you add a link to another source that says the same thing that you do, it strengthens the argument you’re trying to make. In this way, linking is a form of in-text citation. Note that simply adding another source doesn’t automatically strengthen your argument, especially if that source isn’t credible. When your thinking around a topic has been influenced by someone else’s work, you should acknowledge them by linking to their post. You can do this by copying the URL of their post (note that this is different to the URL of their blog) and then using it when you create a link in your own post. Describing how your own thinking has been informed by others is a powerful form of reflection that is strongly encouraged during this course.

Michael Rowe - Google+_002
My Google+ profile, showing the card UI design.

When it comes to design (look and feel), I like to have a clear, uncluttered interface, lots of white space, neutral colours and a crisp font. For these reasons, I love Google’s updated user interface guidelines across it’s various platforms, and especially the “card” interface. My point is that you should choose a template for your blog that reflects a little bit about who you are and what you like. Does simplicity say something about you? Or, lots of bright, vibrant colours? What about serif or sans-serif fonts?

When it comes to personalising your blog using your own photos not only adds an element of personal style, but also avoids issues with licensing the content of others. The images above are screenshots that I’ve taken myself, of my own online spaces. The picture below is one that I took myself and can therefore use in any way that I want. Adding a personal touch to your blog is great but when you’re using content that you haven’t created yourself it’s important that you’re familiar with licensing. The search function at Creative Commons is a great resource for finding openly licensed content.

Just an example of an embedded picture with a caption that explains the context of the image.
Just an example of an embedded picture with a caption that explains the context of the image.

And that’s it! The first of what will hopefully be a short series of posts as part of this course, aimed at helping participants develop a set of skills that can be used beyond the boundaries of this short course on Professional Ethics. If you have any suggestions of other tips and tricks to enhance your posts, I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

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

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-05-23

  • Just upgraded my HTC Hero to Cyanogen 6.1 (Android 2.1). Its faster, prettier, less buggy & altogether a better experience #
  • @PMintkenDPT: @mpascoe @timothywflynn what we say and what patients hear are not always the same (I think the same thing about students) #
  • @PhThCentral: @timothywflynn Physical Therapists, quit using words that scare your patients…or have no real meaning eg “pinched nerve” #
  • @RonaldArendse Depends on your needs. I’m waiting for the new galaxy tab #
  • 7 Simple Tips To Deal With Negative People | zen habits http://bit.ly/kuNGRr #
  • News Flash: Twitter Doesn’t Make You Smart or Stupid: Tech News and Analysis « http://bit.ly/jP12B9 #
  • APA Style Blog: Properly Using “While” http://bit.ly/ixmbDk #
  • Access Springpad When You’re Offline http://bit.ly/lO4Ufc. Android app always had it, but this is what I was missing from the web app #
  • @rachaellowe I tell all my students about @physiopedia. I really do think it’s a great resource for physiotherapists and students alike #
  • The Daily Papert http://bit.ly/mh8Q6F. “You learn in the deepest way when…you fall in love with a particular piece of knowledge” #
  • The Daily Papert http://bit.ly/mpB13y. “School has an inherent tendency to infantilize children [because they have] to do as they’re told” #
  • The Daily Papert http://bit.ly/mnpW7m. “A lot of school math was useful once upon a time, but we now have calculators so we don’t need it” #
  • RT @helenzille: To find out whether and where you are registered sms your ID number to 32810. Useful for SA voters #
  • Challenges of Designing and Evaluating Usability and User Experience for PLEs http://bit.ly/lxOdha. Maybe interesting 4 those at #checit #
  • RT @grahamattwell: PLE User Experience Workshop at PLE2011 Conference – call for contributions – http://is.gd/gdSal1 #PLE SOU #
  • YouTube – SAIE class of 2010 http://bit.ly/m95SeJ. Sad story of SA education with a (kind of) happy ending. Great video #
  • @ronaldarendse Thanks man. Just tweeted JP’s slideshare, which I assume he’s presenting now? #
  • To ple or not to ple – that is not the question http://slidesha.re/iBn5Ob. From @jpbosman #
  • @GigliolaRusso I’ll see what I can do. I aim to please 🙂 #

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-04-18