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

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.