“Eleven hundred hours” – Poem by a student

For the past few years I’ve been asking my final year students to develop a learning portfolio as part of the ethics module I teach. Even though I encourage them to use different forms of knowledge representation, few of them take up the offer. However, every now and again someone submits something very different to the 2 page narrative. The student has given me permission to share her work here.

Its 11. She normally comes at 11.
I hope she forgets today.
She doesn’t care how I feel.
I’m always so tired.
The medication makes me drowsy.
The lines across her face I cannot even discern, my eyesight is failing.
My legs are weak.
I cannot feel my big toe.
She uses a toothpick, I cannot feel it, yet I know it hurts.
I have HIV, I know that.
Some days I cry
She doesn’t know
I’m not sure if I can trust her
I tell her all I want to do is sleep
She talks about exercise
I haven’t exercised a day in my life
My life is about surviving
Surviving the streets of Hanover Park
Protecting my family
Selling myself to support my family
She doesn’t know…
Its 11. She always comes at 11…

Its 11! The hour I despise.
Ms X is next on my patient list.
I wish she would open up.
I talk and talk and nothing gets through to her.
She’s demotivated and I’ve used all my weapons in my arsenal to help her
But its null en void.
I wish I could help her, but she needs to let me in.
Her body language pushes me away,
Never looking directly at me,
But help her I must.
And try and try again I will.
She thinks I don’t understand.
She thinks I cannot see the pain and suffering.
A hard woman is she.
Burdened. Troubled. Scourged.
Her barriers I need to break down, if only she lets her guard down.
I hope in vain that tomorrow will be a better day.
It’s 11! The hour I despise.

Third year ethics assignment

I just wanted to send out a quick post to highlight the great work that one of my third year students has done as part of her ethics assignment.  The idea was to discuss the topic of human rights in South African healthcare using any method that the students wanted to.  I’m getting some great feedback from them, which is pretty exciting considering that students almost never want to discuss their assignments.

Here’s the link: http://laurenharwin.wordpress.com/

If you like the idea, please consider posting a comment or two on her blog, as she is trying to generate a conversation around the topic.

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-09-07

  • Pixlr online image editor, technically impressive but who edits photos online? Just use GIMP instead http://bit.ly/Y7k9B #
  • Student fudged immunology data :The Scientist [21st August 2009] http://bit.ly/xQXL1 #
  • It’s not peer review if you aren’t familiar with the subject « Connectivism http://bit.ly/1PIqDK #

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Results of a reflective blogging assignment in physiotherapy ethics

Earlier this year I gave my 4th year Ethics class an assignment in which they were required engage in a reflective exercise that not only encouraged interaction with others, but allowed them to see that their own perceptions of the world were different to others’.

Reflection has been shown to be a significant factor in developing clinical and ethical reasoning skills, so the initial requirement was to read two articles and then post a short reflection on each. Other students would then comment on your reflections and you would have to respond to that comment, hopefully having considered your colleagues comment. The learning objectives of the assignment were to:

  • Understand some of the ethical problems inherent in the South African healthcare system
  • Be able to discuss some types of ethical dilemmas in healthcare, even if they are not directly related to physiotherapy
  • Understand the role of reflection in your professional development, especially in the clinical and ethical reasoning process
  • Have participated in an online, networked conversation with your peers
  • Acknowledge the differing perspectives of others who may experience the world in different ways
  • Understand some of the advantages and disadvantages of using new technologies in healthcare education

I set up a WordPress blog on my own server because I wanted the students to have full control over their data (and it was surprisingly difficult to get access to a university server), created an author account for each student and then gave a tutorial on blogging and the blogging environment. The 47 students then had about a month to complete the assignment before the blog was closed to everyone.

Here are some quick stats:

  • 94 posts (2 each)
  • 222 comments (some students made more than the 3 that were required)
  • 109 tags (the main ones being MDR-TB, Apartheid and Torture)
  • 3983 pageviews (pretty impressive for 47 students)

While the initial results seem to be favorable, I have to say that anyone who assumes that all students in higher education are tech-savvy, needs to rethink that idea. One of the biggest challenges I had was trying to get students to understand what a blog is. And I don’t mean the deeper meaning of what blogging is, I mean the concept of a website that they could edit. Forget about RSS feeds and blogging software clients. The notion of digital natives does not apply here, and if the use of technology in education is going to move forward (in this country, at least), this is one major challenge that’ll have to be overcome.

You can download the content of the blogging tutorial here (2.4 MB ppt). I’ll be opening up the blog to the public once I’ve graded them, and will be presenting the results of an evaluation at the SAAHE conference in July.

SAAHE ’09: abstract for oral presentation

Here’s the abstract I submitted for SAAHE ’09.  It was submitted for consideration in the Innovations and work in progress category.

Title
The use of blogging as a reflective tool in physiotherapy ethics.

Context
The use of social software in higher education facilitates collaborative learning practices and mirrors the social constructivist principles of education by encouraging deeper engagement with both content and individuals. Reflection promotes higher order cognitive skills that promote critical thinking, and together with ethical reasoning has been shown to contribute to professional development and clinical practice. A blog is a service that allows a user to post ideas online, as well as solicit feedback from others that serve to contribute to an ongoing discussion. This allows for a rich, diverse stream of ideas that provide further inputs into the reflective process.

Aims
The main aim of this study is to evaluate the use of blogging as a tool for enhancing physiotherapy students’ reflective practice during an ethics module. By participating in an online, networked conversation on human rights in healthcare, students will discuss some of the problems inherent in the South African healthcare system, as well as recognise and acknowledge the different viewpoints of others.

What was done
A blogging environment was created to allow only students and the lecturer access to post, read and comment on reflections. Articles relevant to the ethics module were provided for students to read and to inform their reflections. They are required to read and comment on the reflections of their peers, facilitating an ongoing conversation around the topic. On completion of the assignment, students will be asked to evaluate the process.

Impact
With the move towards a more networked society and the increasing use of online tools in education and practice, educators must take cognizance of new approaches to teaching and learning. The use of blogging as a tool for reflective practice has shown positive results in other disciplines but has not been evaluated in physiotherapy education.

Take home message
The use of blogging as a tool for reflection brings significant advantages to the process that are not easily leveraged with any other medium. The characteristics of the platform allow for collaborative discussion, immediate feedback and encourages deeper engagement with the content, all of which facilitate more meaningful interactions and stimulate professional development.