Resource: Snapplify providing free access to South African school textbooks

Snapplify is a South African elearning company that has recently partnered with publishers to education publishers to launch their Free Access programme for all South African learners. Schools in South Africa have always struggled and no more so than what they are going through right now. As much as we might think that universities are having a hard time, primary and secondary school principals, teachers and learning around the country are in a dark place.

Free Access provides over 5000 IEB, EB and CAPS-aligned ebooks for free to anyone who needs them for remote learning while schools are closed. These Free Access books will be available to learners until the 31st of December 2020.

In order to download the free textbooks:

  1. Go to
  2. Search for the ebook you need and add to your library
  3. Install the Snapplify Reader to read your ebooks

If you know anything about the publishing industry you’ll recognise that this is a huge achievement and must represent a massive effort from the company. I think that this is an amazing contribution to South African education. Please share widely.


Update on the Clinical Teacher mobile app

I’ve just finished a full draft of the first article I’ve written for the Clinical Teacher in more than a year. It’s been a busy 12 months and I’ve been involved in a host of other projects but now I’m ready to get back into writing for the mobile app. This next article is on the Objective Structured Clinical Exam and I’m really proud of how it’s turned out. I’ll publish the first draft here tomorrow and am hoping to have a final release by the end of the month.

In the meantime, I thought I’d mention that while I’ve been busy with other things, Snapplify has continued updating the app (iOS, Android and web versions) and I’m really excited with where it’s going. The web interface is especially elegant (see below).


I’m also working on another article on Informed Consent, which will hopefully be ready before the end of the year. It’s already about 80% done but we’re also trying to figure out the new design for the articles, so that’s taking up quite a bit of time as well. I’m really looking forward to putting out some new content for the Clinical Teacher app in the next few months, and hope to make up for lost time.


Starting new projects and catching up with old ones

It’s been a long time since I’ve updated my blog, for a few very good reasons. The first and most important is that in the middle of last year my daughter was born. I took time out from as many non-essential work-related activities as possible so that I could spend time with her whenever I could.

During this same period of time I also developed and ran an open online course on Professional Ethics in collaboration with Physiopedia as part of a sabbatical project I was working on. While I blogged extensively as part of the course, it meant that I had no time to write about other things I found interesting.

At about the same time, I agreed to chair the organising committee of the 2014 SAAHE conference, which was recently held in Cape Town. The conference organisation and sabbatical research project, together with my normal workload and commitment to family time meant that I had to take a step back from blogging.

However, now that the conference and research project is over and our family have settled into a more structured routine, I’m finding that I have a little more time to start blogging again. I thought that I’d get back into the swing of things by saying a little bit about the main projects that I anticipate working on during the next few months.

The first is my Clinical Teacher mobile app. It’s been ages since I’ve added any new content and I’m feeling really guilty about that, especially since interest in the project seems to be growing. I’ve slowly been adding bits and pieces to a few articles that I wanted to write but never had the time to finalise any of them. Over the next few months I’m hoping to finish 2 or 3 articles and get them published into the app. I’m also going to work on a visual refresh for the app. I’ve been really impressed with the material design principles highlighted in the the developer preview of Android “L”. The flat design and use of colour and depth, together with new ideas about fonts and how they display on many different screen sizes, has got me thinking differently about the app.


The change won’t be anything drastic but I do want to give the app a more modern look and feel, and remove the faux leather covers and gradients. I also want to come up with a consistent image theme for article headers. The more recent articles have had an “animal” theme, where I try to find an image of an animal that somehow speaks to the topic (even if the link is only in my mind). However, there have been times when I’ve ignored that trend and just used something clearly related. I haven’t yet decided what to do but am clear that it will be a design decision that will be consistently applied moving forward. Finally, I want to experiment with the new features that Snapplify have been building into the platform, including publishing video and audio, annotations, and text highlighting.

I mentioned earlier in the post that in 2013 I ran an open online course on ethics, and would now like to build on that work. I’ve submitted a funding proposal to support the next phase of the project, which is to offer the course in a variety of countries and educational contexts, and across a range of professional disciplines. We learned an enormous amount during the 2013 experience and we want to build on those lessons by doing something that really challenges how we think about physiotherapy education in an international context. I’m definitely going to work with Physiopedia again, since we had a really great experience during the first course and their input was invaluable. I’ll post more about that project once I’ve found out about the funding outcome and ethics approval.

Finally, and on a somewhat related note, we’re going to be developing a few courses within our department, which we will offer to our clinical supervisors and clinicians at the placements where our students work. They will most likely be a blend of online and physical components, and be relatively short in duration (ranging from a few hours to 2-4 weeks). Our supervisors have identified several areas where they would like additional input that they feel will help them to better support our students. For example, assessment and feedback are two areas that could be improved. So, we’ll be exploring different ways to support our clinicians and supervisors over the next few months.

In addition to these projects, I’m also going back to Brazil in November to attend The Network: Towards Unity for Health conference. The main reason for attending is to try and establish partnerships with colleagues from other institutions, who might like to be involved in the international ethics project that I mentioned earlier. There are many parallels and similarities between Brazil and South Africa, and I’d like to develop stronger links between my own institution and others over there because there’s a lot we can learn from each other.

So that’s it. My tentative plans for the rest of 2014.

mobile technology

Clinical Teacher development progress

It’s been a long time since I’ve written about my Clinical Teacher mobile app, so I thought I’d write a short post to highlight the progress that has been made over the past few months. Thanks a ton to the amazing team at Snapplify, who are making this project possible.

First up, after a long time of being iOS-only, the app is now available on any Android device through Google’s Play store, as well as through the browser. This effectively means that you can now access the Clinical Teacher content on any internet-enabled device. Once the content has been downloaded to the mobile app, it will be available offline.

The Clinical Teacher available through Google's Play Store.
The Clinical Teacher available through Google’s Play Store.

The app has also recently been updated to include bug fixes and minor UI improvements. However, we are due for another update in the next few weeks that will mean that content bought on any platform will be available on any other platform. So, if you’ve bought content in the iOS app, then it’ll be available online in the browser, or on Android. Right now, if you purchase content in the browser you won’t be able to sync it to the app until after the upcoming update.

An index of the content available through the browser-based version of the app.
An index of the content available through the browser-based version of the app.

There’s also some new content, including Effective lectures, Case-based learning and How to write Systematic Reviews. I’m going to begin working on a few more articles, which I hope to have finished in the next few months.

So, as you can see, development on the app is moving along nicely, the content is being developed and published and . If you’d like to write something for the Clinical Teacher, let me know about your idea so that we can get you started.


Writing for The Clinical Teacher mobile app

I’ve been spending less time on The Clinical Teacher mobile app over the past month or so, having realised that I need to focus on finishing my PhD. Unfortunately, this means that I haven’t been able to put out another article in more than two months.

The Clinical Teacher is a mobile reference app (currently only for the iPad and iPhone but soon for Android as well) aimed at clinicians, clinical supervisors and clinical educators who are interested in improving their teaching practices. The idea is to develop relatively short summaries (5-10 pages) of concepts related to teaching and learning practice in the clinical context, integrating rich media with academic rigor. Think of the app as a library within which articles are published and available for download, and the content as being something between a blog post and a journal publication.

To give you an idea of the content that we’re looking for, these are the articles that are currently available in The Clinical Teacher:

  • Peer review of teaching practice
  • Delphi studies in clinical research
  • Small group teaching
  • How to write an academic article
  • Assessing clinical competence with the mini-CEX
  • Authentic learning in clinical education

I do have an article that I’ve been working on sporadically over the past few months, about using social media for professional development, and I’m hoping to send that to the designer in the next few days. But, after that there isn’t anything in the pipeline for a few months, which means that it’s going to be closer to December by the time the next article is ready. Which brings me to the point of this post.

If you’re an academic or clinician and you’d like to write something for The Clinical Teacher, please feel free to get in touch with me. If you’re not completely comfortable writing on your own, I can hook you up with a more experienced author to work with. Topics can be clinical, theoretical, ethical, practical or research-related, so let me know if you’re interested.

Note: Even though the articles are not free to download, I don’t make any money from this app. I charge the minimum amount that Apple allows and use the income to pay the app developer and content designer. However, if you contribute an article, you will receive 40% of the total sales for that article (Apple takes 30% of everything sold in their ecosystem, and the app developer gets 30%).

twitter feed

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2012-05-28

twitter feed

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2012-04-30

  • @nlafferty Hi Natalie, thanks for the mention and for the download #
  • RT @clin_teacher: Just published “The Delphi Approach for Reaching Consensus”. Check it out in the Clinical Teacher app #
  • RT @clin_teacher: 442 downloads in 52 countries after 1 week of being in the app store. Would love to hear your feedback #
  • Airplane Lavatory Self-Portraits <- Amazing #
  • @rachaellowe Nice, might have some cool things to show you by then #
  • @rachaellowe Hi Rachael, have actually been emailing with @rogerkerry1 about his project but unfortunately can’t assist at this time #
  • @s_eller Thanks 4 the RT & download, would love to hear your thoughts on the app. Also busy building something similar for clinical students #
  • @neil_mehta Thanks very much. It doesn’t have a lot of content yet, but I’m working with some authors to get more stuff published soon #
  • RT @sameshnaidoo: RT @zarsa: A Stark, a Lannister, a Baratheon, and a Targaryen walk into a bar… And then everyone you love dies #
  • @WhatAboutRob Thanks for coming round. Great service as always from the team at @Snapplify 🙂 #