Here’s a convenient way to do some studying and add to my CPD, I thought: an online course, which only requires a commitment to 3 hours study per week, runs for 6 weeks over the summer when my regular evening commitments are on hold
for the holiday season. I can study each topic at a time to suit me, and presumably write some sort of summary/essay at the end – all well within my comfort zone.
Only after I’d signed up for the course did I realise that this course was truly interactive and I would have to write a blog.
Now, to put this in context, I do of course use a computer both at work and home, but I have never used any Social Media, and I must admit that at the outset I found the whole technical side of it daunting. My son, who lectures in Computer Science, was highly amused when he realised “my mum is going to learn to blog!”.
My first challenge then was learning to use WordPress and construct a blog; fortunately, the course was structured in such a way that there were some extremely clear and concise instructions on how to set up a blog, and also how to follow the other course participants, as an integral part of the learning process was to read other people’s blogs and make comments on them. This process turned out to be rather easier than I’d imagined (no, I didn’t have to call on my son for help, the instructions were sufficient) and in fact I quickly came to enjoy the extra dimensions of a blog which we were encouraged to use, such as illustrations, links to other blogs, embedded media (I feel a little bit proud that now I actually know what that means!).
Each week we had a different topic, and once we’d read/watched/listened to the course material – and how refreshing to have such varied items, with TED talks and videos as well as more conventional written documents – we then had to write a blog post about the topic. This was an interesting process, and I learnt a lot from both the course material and from writing my blog post, bringing together my professional and personal experiences with the theoretical content of each topic.
However, the aspect of the course which I found to be most engaging was the interaction with the other participants, reading their blog posts and making comments on them. The course was devised by Michael Rowe, lecturer at University of Western Cape, South Africa, so the greater part of the cohort were hisundergraduate students of physiotherapy, approximately 50 in number, and then there were also 36 qualified therapists from various countries including India, UK, USA, Estonia and Canada, and we all joined through the Physiopedia website. Reading all the different views and opinions on the topics was fascinating, and by making comments and replying to the comments of others I tried to defend my personal perspective. The remarkable thing was that through engaging with all these varying perspectives, my own analysis on the topics was sometimes profoundly challenged and I did find myself having to modify my own standpoint. I became rather addicted to reading the other blogs, and as the course progressed it certainly occupied far more than 3 hours per week, but as I could be entirely flexible in fitting the work into my life this didn’t cause any problems; apart possibly from a little lack of sleep as on many occasions I found myself reading blog posts and engaging in vigorous debate into the early hours of the morning when the rest of my household were asleep.
Now that the course has finished I am keen to do more online studying; of course it cannot replace the practical learning that is such a large part of our profession, but as far as academic, theoretical content is concerned, surely this is the future…