Based on their experience of creating and running MOOCs (massive open online courses) a team from Physiopedia will be delivering a course specifically directed at physiotherapy and physical therapy education at WCPT Congress in Singapore in May 2015.
The course titled ‘Creating And Running An Open, Online Course In Physiotherapy Education‘, run by Rachael Lowe, Tony Lowe and Michael Rowe, is aimed at clinical educators and clinicians who are responsible for teaching in some context, either students or staff development (clinicians). The aim of the course is to help participants learn why they might want to create an open, online course, and how to set one up so as to maximise the advantages of this approach, while also reducing the risks. It has three learning objectives, these being to:
- Explore relevant theoretical perspectives that inform the design of open, online courses.
- Set up a personal learning environment in preparation for participating in an open, online course.
- Participate in a short open, online course.
Over the past decade, the concept of a course has been challenged, with educators asking where the value of a course lies. Is it in content they contain, the engagement with others, or the social spaces they create (Cormier & Siemens, 2010)? As we see online social technologies increasingly being used in higher education, the concept of the course is being challenged even further, especially when the content is free and the engagement with others is happening in online social spaces. This disruptive innovation has the potential to significantly change how we think about traditional educational approaches (Yuan & Powell, 2013). Open online courses, including those involving very large numbers of participants (MOOCs) have been identified as a key mechanism by which access to high quality academic education can be expanded and new teaching pedagogies be supported. Formal research in this emerging field is relatively limited, with only 45 peer reviewed papers at the time of writing (Liyanagunawardena, Adams & Williams, 2012). This teaching approach is being explored by many universities around the world and appears set to grow even further (Gosper, & Ifenthaler, 2014). The benefits of open online courses include the development of skills that exist “outside” the formal curriculum, including lifelong learning in relation to open education, personal knowledge management and the effective use of web-based platforms and services (Fini, 2009). However, while open courses have a range of benefits when integrated with classroom-based learning, they also carry risks. There is evidence to suggest that simply providing access to content and the online learning environment is not enough to ensure deep learning, and that educators need to be careful of making assumptions about how “openness” influences learning (Knox, 2013).
Our own experiences suggest that running an open online course offers significant benefits for both local students and those participating at a distance. Through the broader social connections, opportunities for collaboration, and exposure to many different perspectives, the learning environment is significantly altered and made increasingly complex, which has been shown to enhance the potential for learning (Parker, Maor & Herrington, 2013). During this course participants will have an opportunity to experience an open, online course as a participant while also exploring the research basis that supports this approach to teaching. They will also be able to discuss the tips and advice gained from the experience of the facilitators and review an approach that can be used to evaluate the course. We believe that online education has an increasingly relevant role to play in a variety of contexts in the profession. In addition, as social media and other online technologies become increasingly embedded in higher education, health care professionals will need to be familiar with the context of learning in open, online spaces.
- Cormier, D. & Siemens, G., 2010. “Through the Open Door: Open Courses as Research, Learning, and Engagement.” Educause Review, pp.31-39.
- Fini, A., 2009. The Technological Dimension of a Massive Open Online Course: The Case of the CCK08 Course Tools. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 10(5).
- Gosper, M. & Ifenthaler, D., 2014. Curriculum Models for the 21st Century: Using Learning Technologies in Higher Education, Springer.
- Knox, J., 2013. The limitations of access alone: Moving towards open processes in education technology. Open Praxis, 5(1), pp.21-29.
- Liyanagunawardena, T.R., Adams, A.A. & Williams, S.A., 2012. MOOCs: A Systematic Study of the Published Literature 2008-2012. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning.
- Parker, J., Maor, D., & Herrington, J. (2013). Authentic online learning: Aligning learner needs, pedagogy and technology. Issues in Educational Research, 23(227), 227-241.
- Yuan, L. & Powell, S., 2013. MOOCs and Open Education: Implications for Higher Education. JISC Centre for Educational Technology and Interoperability Standard.