Categories
curriculum physiotherapy

Exposing the culture of professional practice

I often forget that learning is not only mediated by social relationships, but by cultural relationships as well. To a large degree we are the products of influence that emerge from interactions between thousands of variables within our families, groups of friends, communities, religions and countries. The process of becoming a physiotherapist is also embedded within a culture of the profession, and we forget that our system of values, social norms, belief systems and language is largely hidden to the student when they first arrive on campus. Not only is the world of academia a new culture for most of them, but then within that system is the sub-culture of physiotherapy education.

We spend a long time developing ways and means of teaching students the technical components of physiotherapy, but have very little in place to explicitly and intentionally induct them into the culture of the profession. We expect them to “pick it up” over time by a process of osmosis. Technical skills are relatively easy to teach: “Put your hands here, press this hard, so many times”. Knowing when to do that particular mobilisation, and why, is a lot harder to teach. Without knowing the when and the why, we’re little more than trained monkeys.

I believe that part of coming to know when and why to do certain techniques is partly related to the culture of the profession. Students must feel a sense of belonging to something that is more than the sum of a set of knowledge and techniques – a sense of becoming someone who is more than a trained monkey. I think that we can achieve this in some part by making explicit our social norms, values and belief systems, thereby exposing students to the culture of the profession.

The problem is that there isn’t much room in the curriculum for these aspects of professional practice, so we need a space for informal conversation in a way that the ideas and culture of the professional community can be shared in a normative way. We often make assumptions about what students (don’t) know and understand. As practitioners, we have developed a professional literacy over many years, but since our current state of knowing is tacit (it’s just part of who we are), we forget how we came to this point. We often forget that our students have not had the many years of experience that leads to the development of patterns of thinking and ways of being that we just know, and so we have expectations around performance that they cannot match.

I think that we can use online social spaces (i.e. social networks) to externalise and  make explicit the culture of the profession, exposing the hidden, tacit knowledge that students can use to orientate themselves to professional practice in a process of becoming a physiotherapist.

Categories
learning PhD physiotherapy research social media teaching

Using the Community of Inquiry in online learning environments

I’m in the process of putting together a workshop for the  facilitators of one of our modules that we’re restructuring in order to use a blended learning approach. Here are the notes that I’ve been putting together on the Community of Inquiry (CoI) for the workshop. Bear in mind that these notes are my attempt to get a better understanding of the CoI, and so lack academic rigor (i.e. there are no references). Finally, I apologise in advance for any errors or misinterpretation of the model, especially where I’ve given my own examples for our participants. Feedback, as always, is welcome.

The Community of Inquiry is a framework developed by Garrison and Archer (2001) as a way of describing favourable conditions to stimulate learning in online environments. Since a lot of the Applied Physiotherapy module will be conducted online, the CoI is a useful framework to guide our understanding of interactions in the social network we’ll be using. The CoI suggests that in order for meaningful learning to take place in online spaces, there needs to be evidence of 3 types of “presence”:

  • Social presence
  • Cognitive presence
  • Teaching presence

Social presence is about encouraging purposeful communication in a trusted setting, and developing interpersonal relationships by projecting personality. There are 3 categories of social presence;

  • Affective response: humour, emotional expression (e.g. emoticons, “lol”)
  • Open communication: recognition, interaction, reflection
  • Group cohesion: use names, greet students, use inclusive pronouns (e.g. “Hi Sue. This is a good question that we can all learn from”)
Social presence is an essential component in online learning, in that students who perceive that it is lacking (i.e. they don’t feel welcome and safe) demonstrate low levels of cognitive presence. Some of the ways in which social presence can be enhanced is by communicating in ways that are perceived by students to be “warm” (think; a caring attitude). Participate regularly, respond quickly, use chat when possible. In other words, create a sense of “being there”.

Cognitive presence refers to an ability to construct meaning through sustained communication. There are 4 practical components to developing a sense of cognitive presence, which are similar to Kolb’s cycle of experiential learning:

  1. Provide a triggering event or problem that is indicated by a sense of puzzlement. The idea is to create a conflict between a students perceived understanding of reality (“This is how I believe the world to be”) and a realisation that the evidence doesn’t support their perception (“The world is not how I believed it to be”).
  2. Opportunities for exploration of the problem. This is achieved by creating an opportunity for students to understand the nature of the problem (“How or why isn’t the world the same as my mental construct of it?”), find relevant information (“What evidence can I find that will help me to understand this problem better?”), propose explanations (“If this is true, then it means that…”), and exchange information (“Hey guys, here’s some information that will help us understand this better”). You can see from these examples that this is similar to the process we want to stimulate in our cases.
  3. Students must try to integrate the new information through a focused construction of new meaning based on the new evidence. They do this by connecting new ideas and concepts to old knowledge that they already have. An understanding of the Zone of Proximal Development would be useful here.
  4. There must be a final resolution of the problem i.e. it must be solved.

There are 6 practical suggestions for how cognitive presence can be facilitated in online spaces. I’ve tried to explain each of these suggestions in terms of how we might implement them because it turns out the when facilitators model the behaviour we want to see in students e.g. critical discourse with each other and constructive critique, students tend to do similar things. The idea is that if we succeed in doing things like what is outlined below, we create the favourable conditions for cognitive presence in the online space:

  1. Discourse. We should aim to be active guides by posing questions that are relevant to emerging topics of discussion. Be aware of entering a discussion and “breaking it” by being an authority figure and / or using “academic” language that students may not be familiar with. There’s little point in students’ continuing a discussion when one of us comes in and provides a definitive resolution (i.e. an “answer”) to whatever problem they’re discussing, or when we say things that they don’t understand. Remember that we want to stimulate a conversation for them, not end one they’re already having.
  2. Collaboration. Groupwork should aim to involve generating, sharing, critiquing and prioritising solutions. There are 2 key elements; availability of the facilitator and the intellectual engagement of the student with the content.
  3. Management. Students begin to take increasing control of the learning activities e.g. suggesting and developing their own projects, with feedback from the larger group guiding their implementation.
  4. Reflection. Students tend to spend more time deliberating on their reflections when they know that what they write will be read and commented on by others. This is why we will use “public” reflections online and students will be expected to read and comment on each others’ reflections. Reflection, simply, is forming relationships between your abstract view of the world (i.e. how you believe the world to be) and how the world actually is (i.e. the congruence between your belief and what actually happens in the world). Try to use language to help students make connections between the cases and personal experiences.
  5. Monitoring (self-assessment). Rubrics can be used to help students grade their own progress and understanding. They take responsibility for making judgements about their work, which is what self-directed learning is. In the professional world, it is rare that we have someone else telling us what we don’t know. It’s up to us as professionals to evaluate our skillset and make decisions about where we’re lacking and what we need to do to fill gaps in our knowledge and skills. We need to enable students to make judgements about what they know and don’t know. Peer- and self-assessment is one way of doing this.
  6. Knowledge construction. Students must make personal meaning (i.e. “sense”) of the information they gather. They must identify the problem (“The patient can’t weightbear on the ankle”), collect data related to the problem (ROM, history of the incident, functional ability, etc.), create an hypothesis (“I believe that the lateral ankle ligament has a grade 2 sprain”), test the hypothesis (send patient for stress test under X-ray), confirm hypothesis or collect more data if necessary, make a conclusion. This process is more effective in terms of “deep learning” than memorising the signs and symptoms of a sprained ankle.

Teaching presence is about directing the social and cognitive processes (see above) to develop personally meaningful and worthwhile outcomes. There are 3 categories of teaching presence:

  • Design and organisation i.e. developing and structuring the learning experience and activities
  • Facilitating discourse by maintaining student and facilitator interest, motivation and engagement
  • Direct instruction through “injecting knowledge”, dealing with issues around content and summarising discussions
There is a significant relationship between teaching presence and perceived learning / satisfaction with online courses. In the absence of synchronous, moment by moment negotiation of meaning available in the classroom, high levels of teaching presence in the online space is even more important, as it has a greater relative impact on cognitive presence when compared to students in a physical interaction.

Socialcognitive and teaching presence all interact / are dependent on each other. Studies have found that “teaching and social presence play a major role in predicting online students’ ratings of cognitive presence, and that teaching presence is strongly correlated with students’ satisfaction with the online learning experience and their sense of community. Furthermore, comfort in online discussion was the most significant factor in students’ perceptions of cognitive presence i.e. in order to develop higher order critical thinking, students need to feel comfortable with online discussion. It may be useful to ask students to reflect on their levels of comfort with online discussion. If they report low levels of comfort, further reflection on their part might identify why they feel this way and what might be done to improve their comfort levels, allowing facilitators to modify their approaches and / or the environment.

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conference

AMEE conference (day 3)

Today was the final day of AMEE 2011. Here are the notes I took.

The influence of social networks on students’ learning
J Hommes

Collaborative learning is supposed to facilitate interaction and it’s impact on student learning

Difficult to quantify the role of informal learning

Informal social interaction: behaviour is the result of interactions and relationships between people

Many variables can impact on student learning (e.g. motivation)

How does the effect of SN on students’ learning relate to possible confounders?

Methods:

  • Academic motivation scale (determine motivation)
  • College adaption questionnaire (determine social interactions)
  • GPA (previous performance impacts on future performance)
  • Factual knowledge test
  • Social network analysis (looked at Friendship, Giving information, Getting information)

Social interaction in informal contexts has a substantial influence on learning

Could it also be true that good learners are also well-developed social beings? If learning is inherently social, then people who are more social might just be better learners, and it has nothing to do with the social network?

Veterinary students’ use of and attitude toward Facebook
Jason Coe

Physicians share information on Facebook that could potentially upset their patients

People disclsoe more personal information on Facebook than they do in general

32% of students’ profiles contained information that could reflect poorly on the student or profession → venting, breaches of confidentiality, overtly sexual images / behavioural issues, substance abuse

78% of students believe that their profile pictures accurately reflected who they were at that time, 56% of students believed that their current profile pics accurately represents them as a future professional

More professionals believed that posting comments and pictures about clients on Facebook was acceptable, than students

Should professional students’ be held to a higher standard than other students?

Should Facebook information be used in hiring decisions?

An awareness of consequences causes students’ to disclose less on Facebook than they do in general

Individuals have a right to autonomy → education and guidelines can minimise risks

The issue of disclosure is important when it comes to using online social networks

Developing a network of veterinary ICT in education to suppor informal lifelong learning
S Baillie and P an Beukelen

Goals were to generate evidence of benefits and limitations of informal, lifelong learning using ICT

Questions in focus group that would affect participation in an online group:

  • What activities? Networking, finding information, asking questions, discussions
  • What motivations? Anonymity, sharing knowledge, convenience, saving time, travel and cost issues, required component
  • What support? Employer support, attitude, help desk, post moderator (reliable information)
  • What barriers? Time to participate, lack of confidence, lack of technical knowledge, understanding
  • What challenges? Poor site usability, professionalism issues / behavioural change

Was important to have behavioural guidelines for participation in the online network e.g. respect, etc.

Can YouTube help students in learning surface anatomy?
Samy Azer

Aim: to determine if YouTube videos can provide useful information on surface anatomy

For each video, the following was recorded:

  • Title
  • Authors
  • Duration of video
  • Number of viewers
  • Posted comments
  • Number of days on YouTube
  • Name of creator

No simple system is available for assessing video quality, but looked at (yes = 1, no = 0):

  • Content – scientifically corrent, images clear
  • Technical
  • Authority of author / creator (but how was this determined?)
  • Title reflects video content?
  • Clear audio quality
  • Reasonable download time
  • Educational objectives stated
  • Up to date creator information

57 out of 235 videos were deemed to be relevant, but only 15 of those were determined to have educational usefulness. Several videos were created by students and were often of a high quality

Conclusion was that YouTube is currently an inadequate source of information for learning surface anatomy, and that medical schools should take responsibility for creating and sharing resources online

Social media and the medical profession
Dror Maor

What is public and private? How do we separate out our personal and professional identities? Should we separate them out?

Discussion of the role of, and use of, social media by medical professionals (http://ama.com.au/node/6231)

Why do people think that using social media takes anything away from what we already do? Social media doesn’t take anything away from the hallway conversations…it’s not “better” or “worse” than “the old” way of doing things.

From “knowledge transfer” to “knowledge interaction” – changing models of research use, influence and impact
Huw Davies

Research, evidence and practice → moving from “knowing differently” to “doing differently”

There’s a lot of noise, but are we having any impact on practice? Who are we talking to? What kinds of conversations are we having? How can our collective input have an impact?

Currently, the model entails doing research, publishing it and hoping that clinicians change behavioural based on the results. No questions about how the knowledge transfer takes place?

How does knowledge “move around” complex systems?

The current system is too:

  • Simple
  • rational
  • Linear

Current outcomes are variable, inefficient, ineffective, unsafe, and sometimes, inhumane

Why is it that when we know more than ever before, do we perform so poorly within our healthcare systems?

  • Goals are ambiguous
  • Workforce is multiple
  • Environment is complex
  • Tasks are complex and ambiguous

Even though organisations are highly social, yet the belief is that caregivers act as they do because of personal knowledge, motives and skills

Major influences on outcomes are through the organisations and systems through which services are delivered, not individual characterstics (applies equally to educational outcomes)

Context matters → it’s situational, not dispositional (behaviour is as much about the context as it is about dispositions)

Reductive and mechanistic approaches only get us so far. “Rocket science” is merely complicated. Tackingly educational and health issues is genuinely complex because of connections of people, each with own unpredictable behaviours and contexts that changes over time in non-linear ways

Throwing information at people doesn’t generate appropriate responses / behaviours

For some, “evidence” is reduced to research on “what works”. Consequnces of this:

  • It’s relative straight-forward if the right methods are used
  • It provides instruction on what to do i.e. it allows us to make choices more easily
  • Assumes that the answers are out there to be found

Knowledge required for effective services is more broad than “what works”?

  • Knowing about the problems: their nature, inter-relationships, “lived experiences”
  • Knowing why: explaining the relationship between values and policies, and how they have changed over time
  • Knowing how: how to put change into practice, what is pragmatic
  • Knowing who: who should be involved, how do we build alliances, connect clinical and non-clinical

Challenge of integrating “knowledge”:

  • Uncertain process, engages with values, existing (tacit) knowledge, experience
  • socially and contextually situated
  • not necessarily convergent
  • may require difficult “unlearning”

Also, not just what knowledge:

  • Whose knowledge / evidence?
    “evidence” may be used selectively and tactically, use is not necessarily disinterested (evidence is what the powerful say it is)
    Knowledge and power are co-constructed

Knowledge is not “a thing”, is it a process of “knowing”?

Knowledge is what happens when you take data from research, and combine it with experience, and shared through dialogue

Uncovering evidence and understanding its complexity
Barry Issenberg

“If there’s evidence, I feel confident. If there’s no evidence, I’m uncomfortable”

Evidence is only useful if it meets the needs of the user. Who is the user?

Features of learning through simulation (BEME guide 4), a systematic review:

  • Feedback
  • Repetitive practice
  • Curriculum integration
  • Varying difficulty
  • Adaptive learning
  • Clinical variation
  • Controlled environments
  • Individualised learning
  • Defined outcomes

Discipline expertise doesn’t mean you can teach

Implementing clinical training in a complex health care system is challenging

Understanding the complexity of medical education → relationships between:

  • Learner characteristics, experiences, educational and professional context
  • Learning task: looked at psychomotor and procedural skills but behavioural not addressed
  • Instruction (deliberate practice under direct supervision in groups or individually, for as long as it takes)
  • Teacher characteristics and qualifications (these are not well-defined), clinical experience doesn’t equal teaching experience
  • Curriculum content and format, blend of presentations and practice sessions, expert demonstrations, orientation
  • Assessment: content and format
  • Enviroments should be supportive, needs to be infrastructure, time set aside
  • Evaluation of the programme: target, format, consequences (Kirkpatrick levels)
  • Society: politics and culture taken into account, patient safety, clinical opportunity, clinical advances
  • Setting: wide variety of settings, including schools, workplaces
  • Organisation: need to involve all stakeholders

Journals have a limited role to play in knowledge interaction, and appeal mainly to people who just want to do more research

Without context and explicit intention, medical education will never have the impact on society that it would like to (Charles Boelen)

 

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-07-18

  • Some beautiful photos from around Cape Town over the past few days (not mine) http://t.co/56JmLtl #
  • Amazing weekend at the #caperoyale hotel. Recommend it for any special occasions / celebrations. Friendly staff & great food. Thanks #
  • Beautiful day at Greenpoint Park, can’t believe what amazing weather we’re having #
  • Over 1 billion items shared every day on Google+ http://t.co/KtbAVMO #
  • @GoodTasteMag loved the rib eye steak 🙂 Service was fantastic, really good experience #
  • @ShanLatimer sitting outside at #1800 in the middle of winter at the #caperoyale Cape Town is fantastic 🙂 #
  • View from the pool deck of the #caperoyale http://ow.ly/i/enxq #
  • Staying at #caperoyale for the weekend, really impressed so far, great service (www.caperoyale.co.za) #
  • On social networks: “If you’re not paying for it, then you are the product” #
  • Hey Google — being social is not an engineering problem http://ow.ly/1uD0TH #
  • Does Google+ solve the privacy problem or make it worse? http://ow.ly/1uD0za #
  • Further Thoughts on Blogging Profs. http://ow.ly/1uCWZs #
  • Slow Academia « The Thesis Whisperer http://t.co/AF62ZsZ #
  • Learning with ‘e’s: Going the extra mile http://bit.ly/riyuKD #
  • “Analytics” interventions « Gardner Writes http://bit.ly/pILLgV. Indictment of standardised testing #
  • Learning with ‘e’s: Going the extra mile http://bit.ly/riyuKD. Too nervous to try and step outside the box #
  • “People who live in the intersection of social worlds are at higher risk of having good ideas” (Burt, 2005) via Anderson, ALT-C presentation #
  • “Relationships, more than information, determine how problems are solved or opportunities exploited.” (Looi, 2001) via Anderson, ALT-C prez #
  • Championing open access to research http://ow.ly/1uyaDr #
  • Applications for FAIMER / SAFRI Fellowships in 2012 now open at http://bit.ly/qcyD9J #
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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-07-04

  • U.N. Report Declares Internet Access a Human Right | Threat Level | Wired.com http://bit.ly/ivNke2 #
  • #saahe2011 officially over. It was a wonderful conference made possible by the participation of health educators from all over the country #
  • Papert http://bit.ly/mggi6R. Being a revolutionary means seeing far enough ahead to know that there is going to be a fundamental change #
  • Papert http://bit.ly/le70h7. The impact of paper in education has led to the exclusion of those who don’t think in certain ways #
  • @dkeats When people are “experts” in a domain they can be blinded to great ideas in other fields and so miss opportunities to drive change #
  • @dkeats Agreed. I’ve had to work really hard to convince people in my dept that I’m not the “computer guy”, I’m the “education guy” #
  • Innovation is about linking concepts from different fields to solve problems, its not about doing the same thing with more efficiency #
  • “How do you learn enough of the words to make sense of the discipline?” #saahe2011 #
  • Presentation by David Taylor on the use of adult learning theories #saahe2011 #
  • Jack Boulet speaking about the challenges and opportunities in simulation-based assessment #saahe2011 #
  • Mendeley Desktop 1.0 Development Preview Released http://ow.ly/1ueXSs #
  • Social media is inherently a system of peer evaluation and is changing the way scholars disseminate their research http://ow.ly/1ueXMA #
  • @dkeats Wonder if the problem has to do with the fact that much “ed tech” is designed by Comp Scientists, rather than Social Sci? #
  • @dkeats Also, people have the idea that LMSs have something to do with T&L, & then struggle when it can’t do what they need it to #
  • @dkeats To qualify, the problem isn’t resistance, its misunderstanding. The conversation always ends up being about technology #
  • There’s a huge difference between “learning” & “studying”, not in terms of the process but ito motivation & objectives #
  • @thesiswhisperer conf is for health educators, mostly clinicians, many of whom are amazing teachers but for whom tech is misunderstood #
  • In a workshop with David Taylor, looking at using adult learning theories #saahe2011 #
  • Blackboard is a course management system, it has little to do with learning. Use it for what its designed for #saahe2011 #
  • Trying to change perception that technology-mediated teaching & learning isn’t about technology. Not going well #saahe2011 #
  • Just gave my presentation on the use of social networks to facilitate clinical & ethical reasoning in practice contexts #saahe2011 #
  • Deborah Murdoch Eaton talks about the role of entrepreneurship to innovate in health education #saahe2011 #
  • Social accountability is relevant for all health professions (healthsocialaccountability.org) #saahe2011 #
  • Charles Boelen talks about social accountability at #saahe2011 keynote, discusses its role in meeting society’s health needs #
  • First day of #saahe2011 over. Lots of interesting discussion and some good research being done in health science education #
  • Concept mapping workshop turned out OK. Got a CD with loads of useful information…a first for any workshop I’ve attended #saahe2011 #
  • Many people still miss the point when it comes to technology-mediated teaching & learning. Your notes on an LMS is not teaching or learning #
  • At a workshop on concept mapping, lots of content being delivered to me, not much practical yet #saahe2011 #
  • Noticed a trend of decreasing satisfaction from 1-4 year, even though overall scores were +. Implications for teaching? #saahe2011 #
  • Banjamin van Nugteren: do medical students’ perceptions of their educational environment predict academic performance? #saahe2011 #
  • Selective assignment as an applied education & research tool -> gain research exp, improve knowledge & groupwork #saahe2011 #
  • Reflective journaling: “as we write conscious thoughts, useful associations & new ideas begin to emerge” #saahe2011 #
  • Change paradigm from “just-in-case” learning to “just-in-time” learning #saahe2011 #
  • Benefits of EBP are enhanced when principles are modelled by clinicians #saahe2011 #
  • EBP less effective when taught as a discrete module. Integration with clinical practice shows improvements across all components #saahe2011 #
  • Students have difficulty conducting appraisals of online sources <- an enormous challenge when much content is accessed online #saahe2011 #
  • Looking around venue at #saahe2011 10 open laptops, 2 visible iPads (lying on desk, not being used), about 350 participants…disappointing #
  • EBP isn’t a recipe (or a religion), although that is a common misconception #saahe2011 #
  • Prof. Robin Watts discusses EBP and facilitating student learning. EBP isn’t synonymous with research #saahe2011 #
  • “A lecture without a story is like an operation without an anaesthetic” Athol Kent, #saahe2001 #
  • Kent drawing heavily on Freni et al, 2010, Health professionals for a new century, Lancet. #
  • #saahe2001 has begun. Prof. Athol Kent: the future of health science education #
  • Portfolios and Competency http://bit.ly/jfFpfU. Really interesting comments section. Poorly implemented portfolios aren’t worth much #
  • @amcunningham I think that portfolios can demonstrate competence and be assessed but it needs a change in mindset to evaluate them #
  • @amcunningham will comment on the post when I’m off the road #
  • @amcunningham Can’t b objective as I haven’t used NHS eportfolio. Also, its hard 2 structure what should be personally meaningful experience #
  • @amcunningham Portfolios must include reflection, not just documentation. Reflection = relating past experience to future performance #
  • @amcunningham Your delusion question in the link: practitioners / students not shown how to develop a portfolio with objectives #
  • @amcunningham Also spoke a lot about competency-based education and strengths / limitations compared to apprentice-based model #
  • @amcunningham Very much. Just finished a 4 day workshop that included the use of portfolios as reflective tools in developing competence #
  • Final day of #safri 2011 finished. Busy with a few evaluations now. Spent some time developing the next phase of my project. Tired… #
  • Last day of #safri today, short session this morning, then leaving for #saahe2011 conference in Potchefstroom. It’s been an intense 5 days #
  • Papert: Calling yourself some1 who uses computers in education will be as ridiculous as calling yourself some1 who uses pencils in education #
  • Daily Papert http://bit.ly/jKlVmn. 10 years ago, Papert warned against the “computers in education” specialist. How have we responded? #
  • Daily Papert http://bit.ly/m7rfYY. Defining yourself as someone who uses computers in education, is to subordinate yourself #
  • YouTube – Augmented Reality Brain http://bit.ly/kcZWXy. When this is common in health education, things are going to get crazy #
  • @rochellesa Everyone needs some downtime, especially at 10 at night when you’re out with your wife 🙂 Seems like a nice guy, very quiet #
  • @rochellesa The large policeman he’s with isn’t keen tho. Mr Nzimande has asked 2 not b disturbed. Understandable when u want to chill out #
  • I’m sitting in a hotel in Jo’burg & Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande walks in and sits down next to me. Any1 have any questions? #
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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-04-18

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-03-14

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assignments conference education ethics health PhD physiotherapy research social media technology

Using social networks to develop reflective discourse in the context of clinical education

My SAFRI project for 2010 looked at the use of a social network as a platform to develop clinical and ethical reasoning skills through reflective discussion between undergraduate physiotherapy students. Part of the assignment was to prepare a poster for presentation at the SAAHE conference in Potchefstroom later this year, which I’ve included below.

I decided to use a “Facebook style” layout to illustrate the idea that research is about participating in a discussion, something that a social network user interface is particularly well-suited to. I also like to try and change perceptions around academic discourse and do things that are a little bit different. I hate the general idea that “academic” equals “boring” and think that this is such an exciting space to work in.

 

I also included a handout with additional information (including references) that I thought the audience might find interesting, but which couldn’t fit onto the poster.

One of the major challenges I experienced during this project was that I didn’t realise how much time it’d take to complete. I’d thought that the bulk of my time would be used on building and maintaining the social network and facilitating discussion within in, but the assignment design (see handout) took a lot more effort than I expected. I had to make sure that it was aligned with the module learning objectives, as well as the university graduate attributes.

In terms of moving this project forward, I think that it might be possible to use a social network as a focus for other activities that might contribute towards a more blended approach to learning and clinical education. For example:

  • Moving online discussions into physical spaces, either in the classroom or clinical environment
  • Sharing and highlighting student and staff work
  • Sharing social and personal experiences that indicate personal development, or provide platforms for supportive engagement
  • Extensions of classroom assignments
  • Connecting and collaborating with students and staff from other physiotherapy departments, both local and international
  • Helping students to acquire skills to help them navigate an increasingly digital world

I think that one of the most difficult challenges to overcome as I move forward with this project is going to be getting students and staff to embrace the idea that the academic and social spaces aren’t necessarily separate options. Informal learning often happens within social contexts, but universities are about timetables and schedules. How do you convince a staff member that logging into a social network at 21:00 on a Saturday evening might be a valuable use of their time?

If we can soften the boundary between “social” and “academic”, I think that there’s a lot of potential to engage in the type of informal discussion I see during clinical supervision, and which students have reported to really enjoy. I think that the social, cognitive and teacher presences from the Community of Inquiry model may help me to navigate this space.

If you can think of any other ways that social networks might have a role to play in facilitating the clinical education of healthcare professional students, please feel free to comment.

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-02-07

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-01-17