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

Friday, 19 December 2008

Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year

Just a brief post to wish all of you a Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year. I'm afraid that our team has been somewhat depleted over the last few weeks due to the winter viruses going around. This has meant that our blog has unfortunately taken a bit of a back seat. Here's hoping that next year we'll all be fit and raring to go with posts offering thoughts, opinion and discussion.
Many thanks for all your support of our blog over the past year. Please keep reading and commenting - let us know what you would like more of too .

Card designed by
Cre8tive Design

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Our Nominations

As promised, here are our nominations for the 2008 Edublogs award-

Best Individual Blog: Sarah's Musings. As a blog, this has helped us to develop the look and content of our own blogposts. As a blogger Sarah is one of the most honest and open people we have met in sharing her experiences and resources to all who visit her blog. She is prolific in her blog posting and is also a great commenter on others' blogs. Thanks Sarah

Best New Blog: Fiona's Journey is a really new blog that is already starting to become a valued resource from an occupational therapy perspective.

Best Resource Sharing: Meta OT - a valuable and dynamic resource offering varied and challenging posts and resources from the world of occupational therapy.

Most Influential Blog post: back to Sarah's blog here for a post entitled "Getting our knickers in a twist". This deals with aspects of online professionalism and confidentiality. It raised a number of issues that we then took into our own blog and had a good number of comments on this issue which is essential for all bloggers using the medium for professional discussion to consider

Best e-learning Blog: TechnOT is great for sharing and discussing all aspects for web 2.0 and technology in the education of occupational therapists. There have been some extremely useful sharings of platforms and reviews of applications available.

Best Educational Wiki: The 31 Day Challenges. These were so useful in helping us to become better blog citizens and gave a very clear idea of how to engage people in online learning.

Good luck to everyone and thanks to all of you for such interesting, inspiring and motivating blog posts over the last year.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Generic working eroding Occupational Therapy

In my previous position within a mental health assertive outreach team I was required to undertake the roles of occupational therapist and care co-ordinator. As the title suggests, care co-ordinators are compelled to oversee all aspects of a service user’s care, ranging from issues such as housing and benefits, to criminal and legal matters and illicit substance misuse.

The requirements of this role led me and a colleague to reflect on the generic work we were undertaking when acting as a care co-ordinator and how this was seemingly at odds with our role as occupational therapists. Whilst we could bring the philosophy of occupational therapy to care co-ordination, it certainly was not occupational therapy. For a more detailed discussion of occupational therapy and care co-ordination see our recently published article at https://share.acrobat.com/adc/adc.do?docid=b7ddbeb4-4fbc-4238-a169-7095d91c87c2

I understand that this generic way of working is not exclusive to mental health; it occurs in many other areas of occupational therapy practice. So why do managers and policymakers deem it an appropriate use of skills to oblige some occupational therapists to undertake generic working, in some cases on a vast scale? Some occupational therapists report to enjoy and value the variety of being able to work generically. But what could be more varied than occupational therapy? It is such a unique and diverse profession that has the potential to touch every area of human existence. The issue of generic working also raises the question of professional identity and to a broader degree the whole future of the profession. How is occupational therapy expected not only to survive, but thrive as a profession, when it is continually being eroded by generic working?

Friday, 21 November 2008

On the subject of Awards

A big thanks also to Sarah who has nominated us for an EduBlog Award 2008 in the Best Group blog category. The awards will be announced in december. Meanwhile , we shall be sending in our own nominations under the 14 categories by the end of the month. Watch this space.......

An Award for the Blog......

Thanks to Healthskills who has given us a Kreativ Blogger Award - and now we apparently get to choose 6 things we are happy about. Here goes:
1. It's nearly Xmas and semester 1 is beginning to draw to a close
2. Relevant practice placements have been found for all students currently on placement (after much hard work, networking and negotiation on the part of Viv and Chris)
3. The MSc Advanced OT programme is going well - with the negotiated assessment underway and places being booked already for next year
4. We have obtained provisional funding to send 4 students and a member of staff over to Romania next year for a week to work with a charity - Muzika in training the carers within the institutions (more blog posts on this soon)
5. We have sucessfullycompleted the four yearly review of the Undergraduate programme
6. It's nearly Xmas and semester 1 is beginning to draw to a close!

We also get to make awards to our 6 favourite blogs too. Watch this space for the results..........

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

National Occupational Therapy Week- wikiflash

So, we are now half way through National Occupational Therapy Week here in the UK, a designated time to carry out activity that will tell the public who, what, why, where and how we are. Regular followers of our blog will know that we have done something very different this year and organised a nationwide wikiflash (and indeed an international flavour with OTs from USA, Australia, New Zealand joining in - hello to you all and thanks).

Just thought this quick post could inspire and help you on your way to contributing - so please follow the links in Sarah's message and get flashing!!!

"It is OT week in the UK from the 3rd to the 8th November but wherever in the world you are please support OTwikiflash08 this week, and help to make wikipedia a fantastic source of information about everything OT.
To help you get started we have created a website at www.otwikiflash.net. If you enter your wikipedia user name (just register on the wikipedia site, it's quick and easy) you can join our roll call and print off a summary of your contribution for your CPD records. Clever hey?
If you haven't already you can also show your support for the event on facebook via the University of Salford Occupational Therapy group page.
Thanks for reading this, and enjoy your editing!"

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Create your Own Destiny

image: Newstead Abbey Rose Garden oct 08

In October 08 BJOT, Marilyn Pattison asks us to create our own destiny. She states that "we need to distance ourselves even more from the medical model" and that we have much more to offer than the "traditional view" of occupational therapy.
As an OT with 25 years experience working as a practitioner, a manager and now as an educator I have seen many developments and shifts in the profession - but what is happening now seems bigger and potentially more contentious then ever before. I agree with all that she says and welcome the shift in focus and delivery. In fact here at Salford we have been particularly pro-active in facilitating learning opportunities that enable our students to think outside the box and have a more creative approach to the role of the occupational therapist. For example, all of our final year students have a placement in a role-emerging and/or non-traditional area where they do not work alongside an OT on a day to day basis - but have to consider how occupational therapy may fit within the specific environment, for example working in a shelter for the homeless, a south asian women's project or working with charitable organisations such as Scope or Age concern. We have also posted previously on related issues of service provision and- the demise of a profession . that you may want to revisit.
The dilemma seems to me to be how do we prepare current and future occupational therapists to work in a changed world when we are contracted to provide graduates specifically for the traditional environments. By this I mean that students tuition fees are paid for by local consortia who specifically negotiate service level agreements with higher education establishments on how many student places will be provided for health care professions. Therefore, our students still require and indeed experience what could be classed as "traditional" occupational therapy in NHS and social care settings. Students often express anxieties about not knowing enough anatomy and physiology etc and practitioners often expect students to have deep knowledge of conditions specific to any placement.
In a world distanced from the medical model, these subjects and expectations may continue to be eroded (in such an obvious format) from curricula as we focus more and more on occupation, health and well being. Any suggestions as to how we can make the transition smooth both for our students and our practitioners - if indeed you agree with the need to change - would be most welcome.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Occupational Therapy, Social Networking and Facebook

Some time ago now I wrote a blog post detailing my initial forays into social networking sites in order to develop an online presence in preparation for teaching in the virtual world. At that time I was decidedly ambivalent about revealing myself as a person in a professional context and I continued the experiment only because almost every piece of literature I was reading about online teaching and learning was telling me that a personal presence was an essential factor in minimizing attrition and facilitating engagement in online learning.


A year on and I can’t imagine life without online networking. I use Facebook mainly, but have a presence on other sites as well and whilst I am aware of, and have experienced one or two of the challenges of mixing the personal and professional on Facebook I have developed strategies to manage these. I thought I might share a few with you here.


Privacy – Facebook has been criticized for revealing too much information about its users. No, the users reveal too much information about themselves by not understanding or implementing appropriate privacy settings. I make my profile available to friends only, categories my friends into groups and then further screen what I revel to whom. It seems to work out fine.


Refusing student friend requests – I was anxious about rejecting friend requests from undergraduate students but didn’t want to offend by rejecting them. Actually, very few of them want to be friends with me (should I be upset about that I wonder?), and if any do I just explain that once they graduate I’m more than happy but until then I prefer to take a more boundaried approach. I don’t think I’ve offended anyone yet, but I guess you never quite know.


Our online Masters students are different though. I created my account specifically for this group in order to demonstrate that although a lecturer I was also a human being (apparently it makes me more approachable). It would seem silly therefore to exclude them, even though it could be argued that some of the same boundary issues are relevant. I am now friends with several of my MSc students, and you know what? I feel I know them better as people too, and am more engaged with them so I guess it works both ways.


Being invited to be friends with a stranger – This is a difficult one. I started rejecting anyone I didn’t know (you can do this quietly, by ignoring them) but then I thought that I might be missing great opportunities. This is social networking after all. So, I’m more discerning now and I’ll add strangers from the OT worlds if we have things in common. This has resulted in some collaborative working and interesting discussions and debates, reinforcing the idea that a stranger is a friend you haven’t yet met… Maybe. Random strangers however, are still quietly ignored.


So, in summary, I have found a way of using Facebook professionally that works for me. I’ve also been fortunate enough to find old “real” friends too, but that is another story.

Monday, 13 October 2008

How do YOU engage in activity?

image: Pennington Flash at sunset Oct 2008

Fiona recently posted about a leisure activity she engaged in that made her clearly reflect on the importance of engaging in an activity - but then following through and making links to our occupational philosophy and suggests
"So if you have any free time ...I would recommend trying something completely different (it doesn't have to be a classical music concert!) and enjoying yourself...but also stopping for a moment to consider some of the observations you can make?"

Our current Level 3 students are undertaking their module "Doing, Being and Becoming" (see
Wilcock, A.A. (1999). Reflections on doing, being and becoming. Australian Occupational Therapy Journal (1999) 46, 1–11 which enables them to engage in an activity they have not previosuly engaged in ( this year it's a choice between floristry, drama, pottery or yoga). The idea is that through engagement in a leisure activity they can experience concepts of doing (engagement in the form and perfomance of the activity), develop meaning for themselves within a new activity - (personal, socio-cultural etc) and consider the impact of their engagment on their well being.
It is suprising the impact that these regular and everyday leisure activities can have on the students as they share their experiences within the set seminars and attempt to underpin these experiences with the theoretical concepts and an evidence base.
Students overall report a total immersement in the activity to the point of losing focus on other everyday concerns, a sense of achievement and pride in their involvement - whether that be through an end product or a satisfaction of having worked together in a group to complete a task and a much deeper understanding of how, as occupational therapists, they will use activity in their furture role.
As occupational therapists we are very much involved in enabling people to "Do" but how often do we consider how the doing will enable someone (ourselves or our service user) to "Be" in the moment and utimately "Become" through engagement in activity?
Your comments on this would be welcome, maybe you could share one of your own experiences of using and/or engaging with clients using leisure activity.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Wikiflash is here!

OT Wikiflash is the rather curious name given to a time, this year during OT week (commencing November 3rd 2008), when we are trying to get a large number of members of the OT community to contribute to the online public encyclopaedia that is Wikipedia.

Wikipedia is a fantastic resource that many are turning to however there are problems with the system largely due to inaccuracies of content. These inaccuracies are often due to a number of reasons including editors plagiarising information, information being out of date (and thus wrong), and poor referencing. Despite this, increasing numbers of students, healthcare professionals and service users are turning to wikipedia as a first port of call.

OT currently has a tiny section in the wikipedia world with most content being US centric and largely focused on the title of "Occupational Therapy" rather than an explanation of our core skills, values and role. We are suggesting that the OT community in the UK takes a lead in updating and improving this resource. As a starting point we have created a website where you will find more information, including a “how to” guide, and some suggestions on what and where to make your contribution. You could do a little or a lot – anything and everything will help show what we do.

As well as benefiting the OT community, your contribution can also have a significant personal benefit as you can use your edits to demonstrate aspects of your CPD for the HPC re-registration process. For more information go to the website . Whilst we are specifically looking at this activity from a UK perspective, we have been discussing this idea across our networks and we are expecting that OTs in USA and NZ will also be taking part.

We look forward to a community of wiki-flashers in OT week!!

Thursday, 2 October 2008

A Public Display ....

Week one of the new MSc Advanced Occupational Therapy online programme and things are going well. Our students have engaged in the virtual learning environment including the virtual classroom, skype, wikis and blogs and we even have a virtual cafe where we can all go to chill!!!

Whilst this cohort are embarking on this new experience we realise that the cycle never stops and we are busy considering how to reach our next potential cohort. With this in mind Sarah and I have decided to be very brave and "expose" ourselves here for the sake of the programme. As part of the induction package we were videoed talking about the programme - and now realise that a lot of the information may be just as useful to anyone considering their options for further study - and particularly when considering whether an online programme may be for you.

Hopefully you will find this short video useful. You can find further information about the programme here.

Friday, 26 September 2008

From little acorns .................

image:New cohorts 2008

Having spent the last few weeks inducting our new students onto both the new MSc Advanced Occupational Therapy programme and our Part Time and Full Time undergraduate programmes we are now getting ready to
deliver the first modules.
It is strange how the academic cycle is repeated each year and yet it never fails to be different each time. As new cohorts are admitted and each student's evolution from inductee to graduant occurs it becomes clear how the development of an occupational therapist is not just about gaining knowledge and skills. It is the philosophy and the way that an OT thinks that is internalised by each successful student. Each year I find that I am discussing issues with my personal tutees that embrace how they are changing as a result of their learning, managing not only their immediate studies but also their own environments, applying the values of occupation to their own circumstances. Occasionally they experience occupational imbalance as their studies take preference over other aspects of their life (ususally around assessment time) and then family responsibility may take priority and they have to cope with juggling roles and routines in order to achieve their goals, constantly evaluating and reassessing their circumstances and their objectives. In this way they begin to realise that OT is not a 9-5 job, but a way of being, a way of reacting to and living with their own world.
I think therefore that the recent editorial in BJOT by Sakellariou et al (2008) is very pertinent to our cohorts. They are discussing the importance of occupational therapists getting more involved - not just in their own world - but in aspects of the wider world about them. That as a profession we need to become much more political in our outlook, ensuring that we can "maximise the potential of our impact" by using "adaptable and transferable skills to help (them) navigate an unknown and rapidly changing terrain".
It is possible that the students we have inducted this week - both those undergraduates embarking on a new career and those already experienced practitioners on the MSc programme may indeed be preparing to work in areas that require them to develop and utilise this wider perspective as the profession continues to create areas for emerging practice and extending boundaries. We look forward to supporting you all through this steep learning curve and through the transitions to come.

(the link above is only available to COT members)
Authors: Sakellariou, Dikaios; Pollard, Nick; Kronenberg, Frank Time to get political BJOT Vol 71 No 9 p359

Saturday, 13 September 2008

OT raps and virtual worlds.....

We have recently found this video on Youtube called OT rap by OTKelekea. Having played it to most of the team over a lunchtime we were all impressed with the content, professional language used and of course the singing. The lyrics can be found here too (just go to the right hand box once at the link and click on more info).Have a listen and let us know what you think.

In addition, as part of the MSc Advanced Occupational Therapy we are intending to use Second Life in a few different way. I found this youtube video re Jefferson OT that I think gives a flavour of what can be done. Have a look when you can and then watch this space for our own forays into this virtual world!!

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

First Guest Blog Post.....Rights to Privacy

Our first post from a guest blogger comes from healthskills. She has recently left a post on her blog re issues of rights to privacy and consent to disclose and has requested a wider debate across the world. I have cited a small part of her post (linked here) to catch your thoughts. Some comments on her post already offer how we may approach this in the UK with reference to Caldicott and Data Protection etc.

"Along with the right to privacy is the responsibility to adequately disclose information. Sometimes people are completely unaware of the need to tell us something, sometimes they choose not to tell us something, sometimes they deliberately mislead us. Just as it’s important to know about someone’s cardiac status before we begin reactivation, we also need to know about a history of self harm or delusional behaviour or serious depression.
Who is being protected by selective disclosure of health information? Is it really in the patient’s best interests? Is it in the best interests of the community? Is it in the best interests of the health care provider? And again, why is mental health information dealt with differently from other health care information?"

Healthskills would be keen to know what yout think, how your practice may be aided or frustrated by these and similar issues. You can add you comment here or link directly to her post and offer comment directly. Any thoughts?

Friday, 29 August 2008

Calling for Guest Bloggers....

image: attributed to: tracyhunter under creative commons liscence

We recently conducted a survey on the blog as to what readers would like to see more of, the results suggest a selection of reflections, educational issues and mostly more about occupational therapy issues. We have come up with the idea of inviting guest bloggers to post from time to time on their experiences of working in the profession in today's world. Maybe you have a burning issue that you need to share with others, have a question that you could use some help with, have experienced a new way of doing something that you want to tell a larger audience about, or maybe you want to just offer your reflections up for discussion or to stimulate debate?

Don't forget, your involvement in blogging can be considered as CPD activity. You might look on this as an opportunity to dip your toe into the water' and then go onto develop your own blog!

The invitation is for anyone working or studying in the profession at any level and within any area to contact us if they would like to submit a blog post. For those of you who have never done this before we offer some guidance for you below in terms of "netiquette". Please email Angela (address on the right hand side of the page) with your post for editorial consideration and we will endeavour to include it on the blog.

Tips for writing blog posts:

a)Blog posts can be any length - but make sure that they are not too long else the reader may disengage
b) You must ensure that issues of confidentiality have been addressed (we have a post currently discussing this issue you might want to take a look at with the comments we've had)
c) try to engage people in discussion rather than just presenting information
d) You may also want to look at the 31 Day Challenge to be a better blog citizen.
e) ensure that you either reference any material that is not your own, or provide URL links for material that you would like to be linked to your post. Look through some of our recent posts that will show you how we reference others within our posts.

I look forward to hearing from you- happy blogging

Monday, 25 August 2008

Is studying occupational therapy useful?

We have just received a comment on one of our older posts and thought that I'd open it for wider debate rather than try answering on my own.

Anonymous said...

well ...i have a question....
im herre to know that whether studying occupational therapy is useful!!...or can anyone suggest me any other course !!..

So what do you think? How might you respond to this query?

Monday, 28 July 2008

Launch of the MSc

We had a very successful launch of the new MSc Advanced OT to be delivered entirely on line. After months of planning all went smoothly with Dr Bill Ashraf of Sussex University opening the presentation with an informative overview of the benefits of learning technologies and the future of education utilising such opportunities, followed by Jackie Taylor , Senior Lecturer at the University of Salford offering inspirational and motivational insights into the future of the profession and the joys of continuing learning. I then presented on the details of the programme and what an occupational therapist can expect to engage in - for example working as part of an online community, studying at a time and place that suits you and your life/work committments and engaging in discussion and debate with peers with a global perspective.The event was hosted and chaired by Sarah Bodell - co-programme leader.
I have posted a link here to another blog where we have been given a glowing write up if you'd like to take a look.
Attendees at the launch then had time to ask questions and move to the Technology Suite where they could sample some of the learning opportunites that will be used in the programme. All this in an atmosphere of relaxed and open discussion and sharing of information - oh and wine and canapes too!
Congratulations and a BIG thankyou to all those involved in the development of the programme and we look forward to maybe seeing some of you in the cohort to start in September 08 (closing date for applications 18th August). Please contact us for further info or click the title of this post to take you through to the website for details.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Blogging Confidentiality - a hot topic

Just a short post - for anyone who blogs or is thinking about blogging I would urge you to take a look at these posts that very clearly raise the importance of ensuring that confidentiality and professionalism are rigorously maintained:

Getting our knickers in a twist

Blogging about birth - with clear guidelines to students on how to blog about learning experiences without breaching confidentiality (with specific reference for midwives but should transfer easily across to OT)

A blogger who was tried for malpractice due to blog entries (USA)

Tittle tattle in the corridors

Thanks to Sarah and Carolyn for the links.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

How far can you go in 15 months?

(double click on the image for a larger version that you can read)

Sarah and I were asked to present and discuss our experiences of using wikis to one of the other Faculties within the university who are considering introducing some of the web 2.0 applications into their own pedagogy - which of course we were happy to do. Our reflections and tips were well received by the group.
What I think was really surprising was the opportunity to take stock and really reflect on how far we have come over the last 15 months. Sometimes it's hard to see what has been achieved when what you are doing is both a cumulative development and enjoyable. Some of those developments include:
  • We have gained understanding and experience of using blogs and wikis within a pedagogical situation - both at undergraduate level and in readiness for our new on-line MSc Advanced OT that launches next week.
  • Having gained ethical approval we have researched and evaluated the use of wikis on the undergraduate programme and successfully submitted an abstract for and delivered a poster presentation at the recent annual COT conference .
  • We also successfully submitted an abstract for a presentation to an international conference - that unfortunately we were unable to attend- on the development of an e-learning programme
  • We have set up and maintained a blog - which, without wanting to seem premature - has become more and more productive in generating discussion on current issues within OT across an international perspective
  • The blogging experience has also drawn us to other bloggers which has resulted in a collaborative and successfully submitted an abstract for a seminar delivered at the recent COT conference
I guess my point in sharing all of this is to demonstrate that from a position of not knowing anything about blogs, wikis, social networking etc - in just over one year we are becoming recognised as potential leaders in our field. With motivation, support and time that has often been frustrating but more often quite enjoyable - we have opened up a whole new world of possibilties for our own professional development and that of others at all levels within our organisation and beginning to take this into the wider forum of the profession.

If we can do it - anyone can. Bear in mind that there is 15 months before the first HPC CPD audit
of occupational therapists in the UK- why not start now with your development - who knows where it may take you in 15 months time!! Feel free to share your achievements with us - by writing these down it can help you reflect on your own situation and prepare you for evidencing these should you be asked at the audit. We'd love to hear from you.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Occupational Therapy and Assisted Dying

image by AHook

As an occupational therapist who has worked in a palliative care environment for around 10 years I have always believed that individuals who have capacity should be able to choose when and how they die based on the view that can’t be easy to admit that life is so bad you want to die; but it must be even harder to know that you can’t kill yourself and have to ask for help but be refused.

I was really interested therefore to hear Baroness Finlay speak against the now rejected Assisted Dying Bill at the COT conference in Harrogate recently. I expected her to present a number of emotive case studies describing people who wanted to die but who are now glad to be alive and I expected her to say that good palliative care negates the need for assisted dying. I also expected her to refer to medical ethics and to suggest that some patients would want to die for fear of feeling burdensome. She presented all of these convincing arguments and more besides, however it was her description of the implications of assisted suicide for occupational therapists that stopped me in my tracks.

The Assisted Dying Bill suggests that in order to meet the criteria for assisted suicide a person must have a terminal illness and consider them self to have intolerable suffering. They must also have the capacity to make this judgement and to request the right to die, but capacity cannot be taken at face value. The responsibility for determining mental capacity lies with health care professionals and Baroness Finlay suggests that this may include occupational therapists.

Could I or anyone else really assess the quality of a person’s life and then judge whether or not it constituted intolerable suffering? Is this even possible? If I concurred with the patients view does this mean they have capacity and can be allowed to die? What if they have a better day tomorrow? What if I am wrong?

It is with some regret that I have to conclude that although I still believe in a person’s right to choose when and how to die, I honestly don’t think I could help them do it. Until these issues and more are resolved, I do not believe the Bill should be passed.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Proving our worth

image by AHook
I do believe that the main driver in health care is financial rather than best practice and decisions are based on the 'available evidence' and that's where our problem as OTs starts.

Where is the large body of evidence to show how effective OT practice is? Where are the facts and figures that help to support our argument for the need for OT?
(since posting this, we have had a couple of comments that give some links to articles and search engines that may be useful, click in comments at the end of this post and have a look)

An ex-student has recently email the team with regards to this very point. She is trying to persuade local GPs that they need her service and of course they want her to produce facts and figures that demonstrates to them how viable (in several ways) this would be for them. I absolutely agree with them for doing this, why should they part with money and bet on an 'outsider', but where could we begin to prove our point? The student has emailed us and I'm at a loss so I thought I would ask the much wider community.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Occupational Therapy Education and Social Networking

image by AHook
It has been a while since I have posted, so I thought I should get back into the swing of things having just been to our Universities first good practice in e-learning event.

It was an interesting day with much food for though, not least stimulated by the guy who asked "Is this all really good practice? How do we know?" And how do we know, because so much of it is new, innovative and ultimately untested? But I digress from the issue of social networking...

Angela and I had been invited to present on our experiences of developing an online programme and the role of social networking in education. Preparing the session lead me to realise that as OT's we are immersed in networks, or teams and that this really isn't such a new concept to us. The question became how can we use web 2.0 applications to enable our students to maximise the potential of their existing networks, or create new ones in order to enhance their learning and development?

In order to answer this question, I reflected on my own experiences of learning through social networking. Prior to the onset of our programme development I was totally ignorant of the world of web 2.0. It is entirely through talking to others online and in real life, reading and interacting with blogs, contribution to online forum discussions and experimenting with Second Life that my enthusiasm was fired and I became more motivated to learn and apply my learning to my work. I now know that I have been immersed in socially constructed learning and I can honestly say I have found it to be the most positive and motivating approach to learning that I have experienced.

The critical point though, is that I felt I needed to learn and needed to learn fast and in some depth in order to keep up with the challenge of developing the programme - this could be described as Long Tail Learning. Was I motivated by the desire to succeed or by the fear of failure? A bit of both really, but then isn't that true of all students????

Please find my presentation below and this book is really useful too. Comments are welcome.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

COT Conference 2008

Image: Will, Sarah and Angela

I've just returned from my day at the COT conference at Harrogate, having left a number of the OT team there for the remainder of the week. Between us we had a number of posters, papers and seminar sessions accepted so we have all been busy both in the preparation and the delivery (especially slap bang in the middle of marking for the conferment board next week!). It was good to see so many of our students there too, maybe a blog post on your experiences would be of interest?

An unusual presentation perhaps was the seminar that Will, Sarah and I delivered on "Is social networking bringing occupational therapists togther?" using our experiences of meeting colleagues via blogging from all over the world. The planning and development of the seminar was conducted between Sarah and I here at Salford, Will Wade at Oxford Brookes, Merrolee Penman in NZ and Natan Berry in USA using many of the web 2.0 applications (e.g wikis, blogs) and a virtual meeting space (elluminate). Sarah, I and Will then delivered the seminar at conference on behalf of us all - and we only met Will in person the day before the seminar was due to run - so living proof that networking is indeed bringing OTs together!

The session was well attended and seemed well received and many questions were fielded afterwards - so as promised here are our slides which will give you all the links to the blogs we used to illustrate our points - particularly for the discussions about using blogs to demonstrate and evidence CPD activity for the HPC re-registration requirements.
Part of the session explained how to set up a blog and how to comment on others' blogs. So if you are visiting this post having attended the session - I challenge you to make a comment on this post - just let us know that you visited. Click on "comment" at the end of the post and type your comment into the pop-up box, if you have a google account already you can sign in and your user name will appear on your comment, if you don't have an account and don't want to set one up just yet you can tick anonymous.
By all means, please feel free to comment even if you didn't attend - we'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Do we Have time to Learn?

image: Mary Seacole Building, University of Salford

Whilst catching up on a few of my favourite blogs for new posts, I came across a recent post by Sarah titled "Do we have time to learn" which considers how we often cite lack of time as a barrier to development and learning. Sarah goes on to examine the issues of whether learning should take place in work time or in our own time (interesting to see that this is an issue in New Zealand as well as the UK). I was seconded to COT for 18months during 2004/2006 where my role was to develop the Post Qualifying Framework and to consider how to guide and enhance the CPD of the members of the organisation and at that time many comments and queries were about who should be responsible for learning.
In this seconded role I also considered issues of how we learn and began to help distinguish between Formal learning (programmes of study, workshops, short courses etc and Informal learning (Learning resulting from daily life activities related to work,family or leisure). It is not structured in terms of learning outcomes, learning time or learning support and typically does not lead to certification. Informal learning may be intentional (blogging maybe?) but in most cases it is non-intentional. In this way I was aiding OTs in considering all these aspects of their development in order to be ready for our first HPC audit of CPD for re-registration in October next year when 2.5% of the register will be selected for audit.

Sarah's post also reminded me of my own recent CPD activities where I have been engaging in experiential learning of web 2.0 applications. I have spent many hours late into the evening blogging and skype-ing, networking with peers from around the world which has been both tiring and illuminating. Yet often I hear from colleagues commenting that they don't have the time and/or the energy to engage in same or similar activities, or jokingly been referred to as a computer geek or equivalent. I have accepted these comments for their face value which has on the whole been humerous and tongue in cheek - but I think there is a deeper issue here, and one that I have often felt frustrated by. I reproduce here a comment from Sarah's post which I think maybe hits the nail on the head (for "nurse/midwife" subsitute OT"):

"When thinking about priorities, we have to ask ourselves the hard questions. For example, how many hours do we spend watching television? How valuable is watching 'Wife Swap' compared to having a conversation with a midwife or nurse in another country on Skype?....
Blogging, sharing and collaborating in wikis, communicating with Skype and Facebook is not a 'waste of time' nor is it an luxurious 'extra', of limited relevance to computer geeks only. So I would reiterate the question asked by Kevin Shadix in response to a post by George Siemens about the importance of taking time to consider one's personal learning networks:

"how can we NOT afford the time?"

I pose the same question here as Sarah, maybe we need to reasses and explore our own attitudes to learning. What do you think? Are you ready for the audit in just over a year's time?

And on a final note I offer this short video by Clay Shirky to watch and enjoy - I believe he makes his point well - what do you think?

College of Occupational Therapists (2006) Post qualifying framework: a resource for occupational therapists. (Core.) London: COT.

Day 23 of the Challenge

image: yesterday in Lilford Park by AHook

What makes a great comment? This task is to give advice to new commenters on what to do and what kind of things to add to make a useful and great comment. Like Sarah, I too think that Langwitches has already done a great post on this, so I sit back and let you have a look at this.
Please feel free to add comments to this or any other post on our blog - let us know what you would like to see here, whether you agree with what we write about, or if you've got anything to add.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008


image: salford museum and art gallery


Whilst conducting the task for Day 20 of the challenge (what of Days 16-19? I hear you ask - more of these in later posts!) which was a task called 3 links out (following blog links from other's blogs and stopping at 3 clicks and seeing where you land!) I came across this blog which was talking about the use of wikipedia and gave links to an article by William Bladke. This article really spells out the debate that has been going on for some time re the use of wikipedia in academic writing - with many academics refusing to see it as a resource of any respectability and/or reliability. He describes the situation as reaching an impasse and suggests that academia is being elitist in believing they have the monopoly on information provision. He goes on to offer a potential point of solution to move forward from this and that it to embrace the "world of wikipedia" by a number of activities. The specific issue that caught my attention I reproduce here:

3. The most daring solution would be for academia to enter the world of Wikipedia directly. Rather than throwing rocks at it, the academy has a unique opportunity to engage Wikipedia in a way that marries the digital generation with the academic enterprise. How about these options:

• A professor writes or rewrites Wikipedia articles, learning the system and improving the product.

• A professor takes his or her class through a key Wikipedia article on a topic related to the course, pointing out its strengths and weaknesses, editing it to be a better reflection of reality.

• A professor or information literacy instructor assigns groups of students to evaluate and edit Wikipedia articles, using research from other sources as an evaluative tool.

• A course takes on specific Wikipedia topics as heritage articles. The first group of students creates the articles and successive groups update and expand on them. In this way, collections of key “professor approved” articles can be produced in many subject areas, making Wikipedia better and better as time goes on

Here at Salford we have set up a learning technologies special interest group within the directorate of OT with members drawn from both the staff and the student groups. One of the tasks we have set is to look more closely at wikipedia - it is clear that this could be a very useful challenge to set ourselves. If you have any hints or tips on how you've used wikipedia in the academic setting then we'd love to hear from you - please post a comment and let us know. We'll keep you posted on how we get on!

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Day 15 of the Challenge

This blog has had numerous commenters over the last few months - all of which deserve a huge thankyou for making our blog grow and develop. However my award for the best commenter goes to:.....

Merrolee - thanks for your interest in our blog and your consistent, helpful and insightful comments. Your support has been invaluable.

Days 13 and 14 of the challenge

For this I return to a previous post made by a colleague of mine that has been receiving a number of comments recently (which as an aside seems to be an indication of how engaging in this challenge is encouraging more people to visit and comment on our blog - thanks). This post was about the use of web 2.0 in education and the opportunities that it brings. Commentors have considered the post on a number of levels - from supportive in terms of encouragement in how long things can take before they begin to demonstrate benefits, through a discussion on whether the term "appropriate" can be applied with a preferance for "helpful" (with some very humorous images created of how an "appropriate OT" might look) and finally the discussion turns to issues of accountability.
There are more and more blogs available (a good example here) that offer guidance, advice and information for health professionals - and of course being in the public domain these are available to anyone who may be patients/clients of services - or maybe future clients
"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"

Through the comments there has been a clear discussion as to how we are accountable for the information we produce. A point well worth making I think. Take a look at the discussions and maybe add your own thoughts to the comments. If you have any tips or advice to offer they too would be welcome. Thanks

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Days 11 & 12 of the Challenge

Hello again

These were tasks that were quite concrete in nature - I had to write comments policy for the blog and to check that the site was "comment friendly". Throughout the challenge, as I have been visiting more blogs, I have been inspired by other's layouts and/or language and/or widgets that all go to make the visitor feel more at home and welcome. I have tried to bring some of those ideas to this site too. I have added instructions on how to use the blog, how to leave comments and some very basic ground rules. I have also tried to make it easier for visitors to leave a trace of themselves, either through commenting on posts (by trying to make the posts more discussional and "approachable") and by entering themselves on our map and/or identifying how they found the site. I have also found a really great widget that non-english speaking visitors can click to receive relevant translation (I would be keen to know if this really worked?).
I guess the proof is in the pudding (to coin a well known phrase) and I would like to hear what you think - is it easy to comment on our posts? Is the blog welcoming? What do you do to make it easy and comfortable for visitors to your blog (if you have one). Actually, another thought springs to mind - if you enjoy visiting others blogs yet don't have one of your own I would be interested to know what you gain from the experience and whether you would want a blog of your own?

Days 8, 9 & 10 of the Challenge

Image: a spring evening in Lancashire

These days were all about comments. Should we allow comments etc and asked us to read a really interesting article about why some people may disable the comment facility. It seems that some people prefer to use a blog very much as a published diary type site, where they open up their thoughts and creativity to be viewed by all - and yet do not want to engage in conversations about it. I can understand this to some extent as I am also running a personal blog alongside this blog that I have deliberately not identified myself to readers and only give the url to close friends - so it becomes more of a "show and tell" than a discussion (although it is suggested in the article that this is not a blog if it only contains thoughts etc of an individual). I have deliberately not linked you through to this in order to maintain my anonymity - but I wonder how many of you would be interested in knowing more about a blogger's personal thoughts and ideas as opposed to professional ones?

Another point raised by the article is that one can only bear so many "0 comments" at the end of their posts - I understand how that feels - but then again maybe it's to do with the way in which the post faciltitates and encourages comment or not - which is in fact the lessons of these few days and beyond I guess. If you've had the opportunity to read other posts on our blogs - do we encourage comment and discussion do you think? What would make you want to comment on something or indeed create/ join an ongoing discussion? How well are we doing?

Are comments necessary to keep discussion going? It was suggested that if people are using their own blogs to respond to posts on other blogs then this is a conversation already. I guess that only work if a) all people involved have a blog and b) all people involved regularly visit said blogs or have signed up to a feeder that alerts them to new posts.
I think on balance I quite like to option to comment and will therefore leave ours on! Please use them and help us to generate more discussions.....

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Day 5,6 & 7 of the Challenge

image: Salford Floods 1946

I decided to combine the activities of these days as they seemed to fit together well. Day 5 was to disagree with a blog post and day 6 was to engage a blog commenter in a conversation. Day 7 is then to reflect on what I have learned so far.
I found it hard in the beginning to find something I disagreed with, so I went to blogs outside of my area to see what I could find. I found this even harder as I really felt I had very little (if anything) to contribute. (I note that this is an activity for Day 8 so will wait until then to face my fears!!).
So, I returned to my comfort zone and noted that one of my comments on Sarah's blog had been responded to- the one I talk about in Day 4 of the challenge to do with anoymous posting.
The response read (I felt) as rather curt and off hand - maybe a result of having to write it/no face to face contact. I copy below for your info:
Anonymous Anonymous said...

probably - but anon is quicker and easier - using a first name means going through a process of signing in - and I can't be bothered. The name you are using (Angela) means nothing to me - I have no idea who you are from that - so really does no more to identify the contributer than anon so whats the difference?

My immediate reaction was to be defensive. I felt quite shocked that someone had taken the trouble to be so rude given they obviously felt time pressured. Why bother responding if you're not going to be constructive? My intended response was to point out their shortcomings.
And then I took a step back - and thought about what I had been learning:

a) netiquette is to be learned and is not inherent necessarily at the begining of a blogging career

b) disagreement adds to a discussion whereas - whilst affirming and valuable - agreement tends to end discussion

c) I may have misread the tone and the intention
d) don't take things personally

So, I kept my reply as constructive as I was able - I let you judge for yourself (did I manage it do you think?):

Blogger Angela said...

I understand the point about speed - but by identifying yourself you open up a potential for a more informed discussion should you choose to. I guess the difference is that once signed in then the name can be clicked to give a brief overview of that person's profile - whether they have a similar or very different background (I'm speaking of a professional background here)that may inform their opinion/comment etc. and in this way generate a more thoughtful and considered discussion. It also means that you could contact that person directly to further a thread of discussion. Thanks for the debate.

In this way I have met day 5 and 6 of the challenge.

I need to gain more experience in engaging bloggers in constructive discussion and debate. I think this is what I find hard at the moment. So far I have not had a bad experience - but I'm sure that the more I gain an on-line presence, the more I open myself up to disagreement. I need to develop a mantra - maybe "it's not personal" - what do you think? Oh yes, and I need to comment more on other's blogs.

Here's to the next seven days.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Day 4 of the Challenge

image: University of Salford and Peel Park

Today I had to ask a question on a blog comment. I found it difficult to think of what I wanted to do at first and read a number of blog posts before returning to a post I had previously commented on and had a response from the blog author Sarah who is also taking the challenge. The post was a reflection on Day 2's task and I had written that I was enjoying her blog as a fellow health care professional (Sarah is a midwife in New Zealand). Further comments were added by others that spoke of the need to be more discussional and emotive in the response to blogs in order to generate real debate and stop the "love fest". My comment left for today's task agreed with the need to become more critical - but my question focused on why - if it was imperative that we engage in clear and honest discussion - that those same commenters felt the need to post anonymously - and raised the question of issues of netiquette when commenting on blog posts! I wait to see what - if any- response is generated.
This has a similar flavour to a post by one of our team (another Sarah) last year which looked at boundaries of sharing personal information. You may be interested to have another look at this?
What do you think? Do you think we should clearly own what we are writing on blogs - or does a level of anonymity allow for more frank and open debate. I would be interested to know what you think.

About this blog

This blog aims to share and discuss issues surrounding education and development for occupational therapists.

Leaving comments on our blog

  • We have been "blogging" for almost a year now. As you enter the blog the most recent post will be on the page. On the right hand side of the page you will see a section titled "blog archive". In here you will find all our posts. Feel free to click on these - we have tried to make the titles reflect the content to make it easier to navigate through the posts.
  • There is also a section on the right entitled "Hot Topics on the blog" these are posts that are currently generating discussions that you may want to read and maybe engage with.
  • Feedback or comments are really important to us so feel free to say anything from a short 'I agree' or longer 'I totally disagree" etc'. and to add your own experiences and reflections
  • Look at the end of a post and click onto the small 'comment' label. A new window will open where you can read other comments as well as leave your own comment. Write what you want to say in the box. Be anonymous if you wish.
  • You do not have to have a 'blogger' account to be able to comment on this blog.
  • Once you are happy with what you have written, click onto 'publish'.
  • If you want your comment to be private, please email us.
  • We respond to all comments and emails.
  • You can keep a track of your comments on blogs using coComment
  • Finally, any comments people leave should be reasonably civil and productive. We reserve the right to moderate or remove comments if there's a problem, although we're pleased to say that there's never been an issue. .
with thanks to Michelle for her blog post on comments policy
Click here to return to most recent post

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Day 3 of the challenge

image:the imperial war museum - salford
Well, today's task is to sign up to a tracker that will help me keep a handle on where I have left comments and the posts where I may be involved in discussion. The recommended sign up is to coComment - which I found straight forward to install and sign up to. This means that as long as I put comment08 in the "tag" box at the end of where I write my comment on a blog post I can go to my page in coComment and see where I have been and what discussions I have engaged in. Great - day 3's activity completed! I have already had comments on my first two days postings and have had responses from comments written on other's blogs - it's working!!

Friday, 2 May 2008

Day 2 of the challenge

image:healthcare building at frederick road campus

OK, those eagle eyed amongst you will realise that this took place on the same day as Day 1 of the challenge - but I only signed up today so had to catch up!
The task for "today" was to post a comment on a blog I had not visited before. After searching through numerous blogs, getting frequently sidetracked, occasionally lost and slightly disheartened as I read other's posts that were very informative and stimulating. I came across this post that I found extremely helpful in begining to develop my blogging style and gave tips on how to make things more of a conversation etc. So I posted a comment - and thus completed my task for day 2. It then inspired me to post a few more too - now just have to remember where I've been so I can see if they generate further discussion.
Please feel free to comment on this post or what I'm doing - or even to ask a question about why we blog and what we gain from it. Just click the "comment" button below and type in the box that comes up then press "publish comment". Would really be keen to hear from you.

Day 1-31 Day Challenge

image: Salford Quays
I have decided to take the 31 Day Challenge to become a better blog citizen given my recent post. This challenge has been designed to encourage people to think about how they comment on blogs and how they create a space for people to comment on their own blogs and entails a number of actitivites through the 31 days of May 2008. The challenge has been set by a number of bloggers - specifically Michelle Martin and Sue Waters.
Day 1 of the Challenge involves running an audit of my comment behavior - what are my comment skills and strategies? To help in the audit, I have been asked to review an article about blog comments written by Gina Trapanui.

How often do you comment on other blogs during a typical week?
I guess there is no such thing as a typical week. I try to have a look at a few blogs each evening but I will admit that I don't always leave a comment - either through lack of confidence, lack of inspiration and/or lack of stimulation

Do you track your blog comments? How? What do you do with your tracking?
No, I ahve never really considered that this would be either possible or useful. But I can now see that to have a way of tracking whether my comments had created further discussion would be useful - particularly if I am to push myself to write more comments on more blogs.

Do you tend to comment at the same blogs or do you try to comment on at least one new blog per week?
I have my favourite blogs that I visit and track for new posts - usually people's blogs that I have met through blogging or have been directed towards from blogrolls of sites that I have found interesting or useful.

But I also make a point of trying to leave comments on others blogs - particularly those blogs within the occupational therapy profession in an effort to expand my network and also to try to attract people back to my blog. Not sure if this works or not as a strategy though as my post will testify.

Gina Trapanui's advice on leaving comments
On the whole I agree with everything Gina says about things like being courteous, keeping to topic and adding to the thread. On the whole, I am pretty good at sticking to the guidelines that Gina suggests although I fear I may occasionally add a comment that is more of a supportive statement than an addition to a debate or discussion. But then again - I actually think that some bloggers would want just some recognition that their posts are bein read- even if they don't all spark major debate.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Launch of MSc in Advanced Occupational Therapy


This is not a blog as such, but we hope that some of our UK readers will come and join us for drinks and canapes prior to finding out all about our brand new international online programme. You will hear from eminent speakers and have the opportunity to try out some of the online learning materials as well as to chat to the tutors who will be working with you.

The event takes place at the University of Salford in the Mary Seacole Building on Wednesday 23rd July 2008 at 5.30 until 7.30.

If you would like to come, please register your interest by leaving a comment below or by visiting our Facebook page "Occupational Therapy at the University of Salford" and clicking on "events". We'd like to have an idea of numbers for catering purposes please.

For our international readers, we will have further news soon regarding how you can also be part of this exciting event so watch this space!

Thankyou for reading, hope to see you there.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Is there anybody out there?

Those of you who are regular readers of our blogs will know that we have been busy developing an MSc Advanced Occupational Therapy to be delivered totally online. In order for this to happen many of us have been engaging in web 2.0 applications to facilitate our programme development but also to engage in learning experiences that we will be asking our students to undertake. To this end I have enrolled on an online programme which week by week has introduced me to some extremely interesting and useful tools for both learning and social networking.
It has become clear to me that the common theme underpinning all of these is the need to know if anyone is out there and the importance of acknowledging each other. Engaging in an online community can only really be effective if you know there is a community out there. Under usual circumstances we engage with others through gestures, tone of voice - or by presence (or indeed absence). On line these things cannot be noted - therefore it is extremely hard to know if anyone is listening, agreeing or indeed disagreeing. We have had over 2000 readers of our blog posts - yet very few of you have left a trace. That first step can be daunting - make a comment -write what you feel - it doesn't have to change the world, it doesn't have be an essay - just let us know you're out there. Click on "comment" at the end of this (or any other) post and up will pop a window for you to type in your comment. Give it a go - it may be the first step of a whole new learning experience for you - and if all else fails - it can be evidence of an aspect of your CPD to demonstrate engagement in discussion with peers both nationally and internationally!!!
Happy commenting...

Monday, 3 March 2008

Do Clinicians make good researchers?

I attended an interesting session today in the University about Qualitative research. Within this we looked at the skills and techniques that can be used by the researcher to help them to gain a better understanderstanding of the phenomenon or an individual's experience of this phenomenon. It struck me that many, if not all, of these skills are skills that a clinician uses routinely with patients or clients, such as encouraging, leaving pauses between questions and answers, gentle probing and so on. Does it therefore follow that clinicians make natural and effective researchers when using a qualitative design? I wait with interest for any thoughts on this.

Monday, 18 February 2008

Then and now

I was tidying through some drawers recently and came across some photographs from my OT Graduation ceremony in 1991. I delved a little deeper and found more pictures from my time at St Katherines College Liverpool, all of which brought back fond memories of places and people I don’t see so much now and I got to reminiscing about my training.

Undoubtedly I had a great time and learned enough to graduate and begin working as an Occupational Therapist. Much of the content and teaching methodology of my training is relevant today, but I do wonder how we managed without the internet, email and computers. My assignments were handwritten and information was gleaned from books or Journals during long hours in the library. Feedback and tutorial support was always face to face and excusing late work by citing the crashing of a computer was unheard of, but many papers were chewed by cats or drenched by coffee at the critical hand in hour (do you know how long it takes to rewrite 4 thousand words by hand!!!).

In light of the increasing use of technology and the now commonplace nature of the internet I wonder if my education was somewhat limited. I don’t feel that it was, but would I study now without making recourse to the internet? I would feel I was missing potentially relevant information and the opportunity for speedy communication with tutors and peers. Not to mention the advantages of file sharing, wikis and of course blogs. But then maybe I am somewhat evangelical about it and I’d be interested to here the views of others who studied before the dawn of technology. Maybe it was actually much simpler then?