Over 8 weeks in September and October 2016 Physiopedia, in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross, delivered it’s fifth Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on the topic of Cerebral Palsy (CP). 14,010 participants formally registered for the Managing Children with Cerebral Palsy course, this represented 179 countries and 84% were physiotherapists.
The course was delivered in the new online learning platform Physiopedia Plus that has been specifically developed to deliver online education and professional development to Physiotherapists and Physical Therapists worldwide. The platform provides a personalised learning environment for the student that records all learning activities and achievements in an innovative learning dashboard. The learning activities including the books, quizzes, discussions and certificates are provided securely once a user has logged into the system. Every user also has the opportunity to record a reflective note on each learning activity, particularly important for countries where evidence of professional development is output based such as the UK.
To complete the course, participants had to complete 62 learning activities including 6 case study related activities, 6 quizzes and 12 contributions to the discussion forum. Over the 8 weeks of the course nearly 124,000 learning activities were logged by the system. To pass the course and receive a certificate of completion the participants were required to pass the final quiz with an 80% pass rate and submit an assignment that demonstrated their learning from the course. At the date of this report over 700 people had completed the course and downloaded their certificate.
As is usual with our courses, the feedback was overwhelmingly positive with participants enjoying the course and happy to recommend it to their colleagues. There is never strong agreement that the course was the right length or that the amount of work we set each week is about right. We warn participants before the courses that they are challenging, we’re not in this game to give certificates away easily, people have to participate, do the reading and prove that they have done the learning!
For the first time we asked about preferences towards the types of learning activity that we presented. The one thing we have evidenced is that people have different learning styles and in any online course you must include a variety of activities. As expected, in this day and age of media hunger, the images and videos were popular. People also enjoyed the Physiopedia pages which could be described as media rich evidence based summaries of a topic. Book chapters, journal articles and quizzes are appreciated and as we have seen before people don’t see as much value in the discussion forums. Discussion forums are a challenge, especially with thousands of people taking part and when some make an effort others don’t. However we still believe that the value in these global discussions is unprecedented, physiotherapists and Physical Therapists from all over the world talking about the same topic in one place all at the same time.
The big question is, what was the impact on clinical practice? With limited resources it’s difficult for us to measure impact on clinical practice following these courses (if anyone would like to do some research with the wealth of data we have please do get in touch!!), the evaluation forms that participants complete at the end of the course provide the best insight into this:
This course changed the entire approach towards CP, not only for me but with the application in clinical setting, also for my colleagues. I got to learn not about the treatment through material but with videos and practical approaches in different countries. Especially the discussion forum really helped where different physiotherapists from all around the world shared their experiences.
The course has helped me to feel more confident in my assessment and treatment of young adults with CP. Prior to completing this course, I always felt a bit out of my depth as the parents and the young people had spent a lot of time with physios over many many years and I felt inexperienced however this course has taught me to trust my abilities.
I learned how to apply my knowledge in broader settings and learnt more about other disciplines involved with management of CP which makes me a better equipped and more well rounded therapist.
I feel this course has opened my eyes to how I can do physiotherapy treatment that is meaningful and fits in with the daily activities and expectations of the family and child.