Online Technology has a role for professional development: A students’ reflection

Ashley has given me permission to share her reflection on the recently completed module: “Online Technology for Occupational Therapy”

All the students were asked to consider HOW they adopted these new technologies and how they might contribute to their professional development. The first task was completed through the lens of Kolb’s experiential learning theory (1984)and the second part was completed through the lens of the Canadian Profile Document (CAOT, 2007).

Thank you Ashley, I really appreciate the time spent on creating this wonderful reflection. I hope others look, listen and learn from you.

Sharing the love… of technology!

I recently completed a 13 hour “intensive” module “Online Technology for Occupational Therapy” with MScOT students here at the UofA. The module is an elective subject and up to 20 students can participate, this year was the biggest group yet with 13 first years.

The module has evolved over the past three years, from being called Web 2.0 for health care to Web 2.0 for Occupational therapy and this year, in keeping with the WFOT congress workshop I changed the module name to “Online technology for Occupational Therapy”.

The format of the sessions was as follows:

Session 1:

  • Introduction and workshop

  • What’s expected in this course?
  • Assessment tasks
  • Project selection and commencement

Session 2

  • Personalized homepages/Portals
  • Collaborative writing
  • Social Networking
  • Online Surveys
  • Podcasts
  • Continue projects

Session 3

  • Managing RSS feeds: Google Reader, iGoogle
  • Setting up “alerts”
  • Setting up automated database searching from the library

  • Social bookmarking: Delicious
  • Project presentations
  • Post-course evaluations

Below is the list of student projects completed

  1. AT for OT: A repository for the assistive technology projects completed by the 2010 MScOT cohort (this is not an open project until permission received from all groups whose AT projects are housed on the site)
  2. OT survival guide: An students’ view of surviving and thriving while studying OT at Corbett Hall (this project was developed using a Mac computer and is looking for a new online home… watch this space)
  3. Pediatrics for OT students: An online resource looking at the key diagnostic groups and assessment tools an OT student needs for a pediatric fieldwork placement
  4. Cultural Mosaics: How OTs fit – An online resource for OTs working with people who have immigrated to Edmonton, particular focus on understanding what resources are available.
  5. Occupational therapy: Is it for you? – An online resource looking at the question of “what is occupational therapy as a career?” This group avoided jargon as their target population is school leavers and undergraduates who may not know about OT as a career option.

Showcasing online technology to occupational therapists

Teaching classes is slowly finishing and conference season has begun!
As educators we have a couple of mandatory requirements and one is to present our recent research activity at conferences. Coming up with amazing content seems to come in waves and right now we are riding a wonderful wave that formed gradually over the past 10 years or so!

In the last month I have attended and presented at the AOTA conference with Professor Karen Jacobs from Boston University, at the World Federation of Occupational Therapy congress with and on behalf of the international group we call OT4OT (online technology for occupational therapy) and then this week Professor Vivien Hollis presented on behalf of a group of us from the University of Alberta Occupational Therapy Department at the Association for Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE) conference in Malaysia.

Conference 1: American Occupational Therapy Association conference in Orlando Florida 29 April – 2 May, 2010

While at the AOTA conference I spent a lot of timelooking at the technical displays in the exhibition hall, a definite strength of this conference. Below are some brief videos of a couple of items that grabbed my interest while I was there.

Video 1: Learning to use an eye-gaze control to operate the computer! Plugs into any computer using the USB port, I was able to master in less than 5 minutes.
Video 2: The RollerMouse being demonstrated. This device replaces a traditional mouse with a roller under the palms of the hands and buttons to click for left mouse, right mouse, copy, paste etc., all in one central location.
The slides from the Tech Day presentation can be found at this link

Conference 2: World Federation of Occupational Therapy Congress, Santiago, Chile. May 4-7, 2010
Here I am including the link to the wiki called Online Technology for Occupational Therapy that we developed for the workshop as an ongoing resource for participants and also for any other OTs wishing to find out more about using these technologies in OT practice or education for knowledge retrieval, transfer or research. We also developed a Facebook group with the same name as a place for people to get together and share resources and knowledge about online technologies. The Facebook group has blossomed from 17 members in mid-April to over 400 members in mid-May, a sure sign that OTs are using this social media and want to talk about it!
Conference 3: Association for Advancement of Computing in Education conference in Penang, Malaysia, May 17-20, 2010.
The paper that we collaborated to produce is titled: “It’s not possible to be a sage on the cyberstage” and the abstract can be found through this link. The paper illustrates the range of online technologies we are currently using in our OT program at the University of Alberta. We also made a series of videos to tell our story as we could not all attend. This was a wonderful way to illustrate what we were doing, how we were doing it and Vivien Hollis was there to discuss why we are using all these technologies in a program that is primarily face to face.

Canadian Virtual Hospice

Today I clicked on Facebook Ad for “Canadian Virtual Hospice”. I was intrigued to see what types of information and services this site might offer and was genuinely impressed by how thorough this site is!

There are three main areas: Topics, Support and For Professionals,

Topics include:
What Is Palliative Care?

  • What Is Palliative Care?

Emotional Health

  • Talking with Children and Youth about Serious Illness
  • Hope and Denial
  • Living with Limited Time: Exploring Feelings
  • Grief in Times of Celebration: The Empty Spot
  • Grief Work

Spiritual Health

  • Spirituality and Life-Threatening Illness
  • Finding a Spiritual Companion
  • Finding Meaning and Purpose during a Health Crisis
  • Rituals for Patients and Families
  • Rituals to Comfort Families
  • Sharing Your Story


  • Sorting out Health Concerns
  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Dehydration
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of Appetite and Loss of Weight
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Pain
  • Shortness of Breath

Providing Care

  • Caring for Yourself
  • Help with Medications
  • Help with Eating
  • Care of the Mouth
  • Caring for Hair and Face
  • Help with Bathing
  • Help with Toileting
  • Positioning a Person in Bed / Preventing Bed Sores


  • Tips for Visiting
  • What Do I Say?


  • Health Care Decisions
  • Considerations for a Home Death
  • Advance Care Planning
  • Wills
  • Planning a Funeral
  • Financial Assistance
  • Patient Benefits
  • Caregiver and Survivor Benefits

Final Days

  • When Death Is Near
  • The Moments after a Death

The Support Section allows users to register and join specific discussions with professionals working in palliative care. The professionals involved in the service are listed on the page “Meet the Team” There is a section called “Your Stories” which is an area for people to tell their brief story about grief, death, dying or to thank the professionals involved in their care, One other section is called: “Asked and Answered” which is the FAQ section.

The For Professionals Section allows users to link to ongoing professional development and research links.
I am impressed by the content and layout of this site. It is easy to navigate, they use lay language and I particularly applaud their use of online technology to provide best practice information for professionals, service users and families in a timely way!

Facebook fatigue

This week my facebook status reads “Anita is a bit tired of thinking like a FB status update… I want to think properly again”. I decided to call this Facebook Fatigue.

I love the fact that I can constantly stay up to date with the day to day “doings” of friends and family around the globe, and even feel like I was actually there with my sisters when their kids said the funniest things… but who am I kidding? I am living vicariously and virtually, in their lives… soon a question started to gnaw inside me… am I living my own life?

After almost 2 years of using Facebook it became part of my daily routine, and a way to feel connected with others. However, it gradually started to change the way I behaved. I would check Facebook before email, and even before I ate breakfast, I would use facebook as a place to connect with a wide range of people, but not at any meaningful level, and it became a place where I could easily lose an hour at a time through my day! Many evenings it became my main activity. On weekends I would be on FB talking to people in another country, me having a glass of wine on my computer, them also at a computer… it replaced real socializing!

I don’t want to say I was addicted, but maybe I was!

The thing that started to really irritate me was the feeling that having a “conversation” on facebook had become one big public forum and it wasn’t simply with people I wanted to converse with… but people who were friends of friends (ie: strangers). It started to feel like a public conversation, like traveling on a train and speaking with your friend and the people traveling on the train who were around you continually adding to the conversation without invitation.

I am an outgoing person, an extrovert! So having conversations with complete strangers does not bother me at all (hey… I blog!) but what started to happen was people from very different walks of life started to become part of my daily conversations inside facebook, through my friends or family’s pages… now this shouldn’t bother me as opening myself up to having conversations with people with different viewpoints is wonderful! However, these weren’t conversations, these were somtimes personal attacks disguised as conversation. People critiquing my choices and comparing them with theirs.

I started to wonder what was happening and realized that maybe it is the anonymity of the online world that creates a sense of safety and loosens people’s “manners”. Maybe they wouldn’t comment on your choices if you were meeting in person, but in the online forum there really are no consequences, so they just voice their true opinion.

The other aspect is there is no voice intonation or body language when you communicate online (yes, all the netiquette rules say CAPITAL LETTERS = SHOUTING!) but between speaking normally and SHOUTING and emoticons 😉 there is little way of knowing how a person is actually speaking. Text simply lacks nuance.

So, none of this is new really, it just simply came to a head for me recently, and my breaking point was… I was thinking in updates! I would do something, for example: bake a loaf of bread, and then I would think about how to word that as an update! There is a positive angle to this, I am noticing the small things in my life and “amplifying them” and celebrating them… and the other way of looking at this is I am wasting my life navel gazing, telling people about the mundane and forgetting to get on with the bigger goals in my life!

As this is a blog about Technology and OT a little voice is telling me that I need to make this relevant to OT practice… EASY! If I was helping someone to connect with friends and family online (such as we did in the ABI & Blogging program) then I would be particularly careful to address the issue of what to post and what not to post, and how to avoid offending people online!

So, I am having a breather from FB and focusing more on my Blog, my work and my PhD… oh and my kids! How’s your online world treating you?

Advances in Online Care and Telehealth

This post by DAVID C. KIBBE on the Health Care Blog talks about a recent symposium on Online Care in Hawaii, where two Family Physicians and a primary care Internist participated in a panel in which they described their experiences with Online Care and Telehealth.

Visit this link to read the full article.

How are we going in occupational therapy in online consulting? Where is it happening and who is doing it? Or is this level of application of technology reserved purely for medicine?