Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely our own and not necessarily those of our employer or any other occupational therapist.

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Is web 2.0 appropriate in occupational therapy education?

I consider myself to be an occupational therapist, an educator, or sometimes even both at the same time, but never would I describe myself as a computer expert. Yet here I am, in the middle of writing a blog, having just set up google reader for RSS streaming, made myself a Del.icio.us site ( for social bookmarking), and considered how best to use wikis to facilitate student projects.

I could not have done this even 6 months ago. So what happened? It was really a case of needs must, in that although the University introduced the Blackboard Virtual Learning Environment some time ago, it was only recently that my daily work became dependant on it. Given that I like to appear at least semi-proficient most of the time, I decided I'd better find out about the new learning tools at our fingertips, and this was how I came across blogs and wikis. Interestingly, about 5 months ago students were given the opportunity to incorporate the use of these tools into their learning, but few knew what they were. I suspect that even in this short time, things will have moved on.

Once I saw the potential of web 2.0 technology I was off. I have contributed to discussions on Big Brother, reviewed yutube videos (have you seen the guy singing the occupational therapy song?), discussed OT things with colleagues from around the world and even edited a page of wikipedia. And in doing so, I have learned about communicating online, the differences and similarities between OTs and OT students internationally and I have been challenged in my thinking (is it really a good thing that we can all be so "public" on the internet? What about professional identlity?). In terms of CPD, I think I have developed hugely, and hopefully my colleagues and our students will benefit from this learning.

So I was somewhat disapointed to hear that some Universities frown on the use of web 2.0 citing concerns about academic rigour and plagiarism to name but two. Surely Universities, like all other modern organisations must move with the times, and given the increasing number of OT blogs and online OT Programmes and training appearing on the internet it would seem that the future may be ( at least in part) electronic. I aknowledge that as with anything, web 2.0 has its limitations, but I suggest that to reject it would be to miss an opportunuity to take our profession forward. As OT's we are good at analysing and overcoming barriers - aren't we?


Occupational Therapy Otago said...

It's great to see you up and running. It is really interesting to see how Blogging by occupational therapists is growing. I am a new convert. The TV watching has decreased, as I try to come to grips with what this medium offers me in the way of professional development. So I was interested to read what you have gained. I put a posting on my blog http://occupationaltherapyotago.wordpress.com/ a few weeks ago on what I thought blogging might be offering me.
It certainly takes effort at the beginning to move from the learning you are getting of how the technology works - to actively getting people contributing ideas to your learning or reflections on your work and interests.
I started blogging 2 months ago and I am only just starting to get the benefits related to my interests and work. Getting more perspectives into your reflective practice to me is key to both stimulating and challenging your own ongoing learning.
The other part of blogging I am learning is the importance of taking your part in the discussions on other blogs. Because blogging only works if it's a two way process. So its great to see you guys whoops gals (sorry in New Zealand slang everyones a guy) getting out their with great comments.


Anonymous said...

I always giggle a little when I see the word 'appropriate' in anything about occupational therapy! When I was a newbie OT it was one of the most over-used words I heard - and today makes me think of prissy-mouthed elderly women who frown on 'all this new technology'....
Anyway, to me 'appropriate' isn't the right question - it's more about 'how helpful' can this be? 'What can we learn with this technology', 'how can we use it' rather than 'appropriateness'.
I'm blogging steadily now, and have reached the milestone (to me!) of over 10,000 visits to my blog. I think any mechanism that allows me to put forward information to the public (OK a selective public) is useful in that we are reaching people who might not otherwise ever hear about/see or interact with health professionals of any persuasion. My blog is purely for health professionals, and is written that way, but I've had people with chronic pain also regularly read and comment - suggesting that perhaps some of the less introspective posts that describe 'how to' manage a chronic disability might reach an audience that may not ever have come into contact with occupational therapy. What an opportunity to demonstrate what your profession can offer the world?!

Alison Bodor, OTR/L said...

I saw your blog and I understand what you mean about moving along with the times. I don't consider myself tech saavy either. But, if you're interested, check out www.ot-advantage.com. This is my contribution to the OT community. It's a social networking site for Occupational Therapy. You can blog, network, take sample board questions, read OT news, and more. I am always interested in feedback as well!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the comments. The word "appropriate" makes me giggle too, in one class we counted how many times a lecturer used it. Maybe my students do that to me now!
I like the idea of the blogs allowing clinical expertise to be passed on in a really informal way. Are there issues of accountability do you thinks?
I'll also have a look at the networking site, what a great idea.

Anonymous said...

If by accountability you mean adhering to ethics, I think there are certainly mechanisms for this. I use the Health On the Net code of conduct HON Code which has a stringent set of areas that need to be addressed before they will issue the site with a seal.
I also think if we are ensuring we cite adequately, provide good links to any reference material we do cite, and are clear both about the purpose and the scope of our blogs, there is little scope for misunderstanding. Things like ensuring that you state that what you provide in no way replaces the personal relationship with one's own health care team, and that you state whatever relationship you have with advertising etc provides the reader with a degree of certainty that isn't often found in columns in a newspaper or magazine for example!
And at least in this forum, it is open and anyone can comment at any time which leaves little room for complacency in what or how you present your opinions.

Sarah said...

I've just had a look at HON, and it looks good. We have wondered ourselves about using our blog to impart clinical information, so your comments are welcomed.