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I am an Australian occupational therapist, educator and researcher. I have worked as an OT in mental health, vocational rehabilitation and a private surgical hospital. I am passionate using online technology to enhance the knowledge and growth of the occupational therapy profession. In my PhD research I am looking at the role of online technologies in information management and knowledge transfer in occupational therapy. Views expressed and stories shared on this blog are my opinion and do not represent views of my employer or professional registration body.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Technology features in the Northern Territory!

Tonight I found out from Brock via Twitter that the Northern Territory Division of OT Australia has decided that the theme for their State conference in August 2014 will be TechnOT!  That is FANTASTIC news!!!

After about 10 years chipping away at the edges of digital literacy in occupational therapy - along with so many virtual friends - it's fantastic to finally see this theme front & centre at a State conference, well done NT!

I am sitting here thinking about which aspect of my PhD or other work completed with colleagues and students should I propose in an abstract??

I'm also wondering which of my virtual OT colleagues might like to come to Australia in August and present with me?  So many of us have collaborated over the past decade - we are a virtual team who have shared this journey at so many points it would be so fun to share this conference together!  Contact me if you're keen!!

Here's my list of possible topics:
  • The IM-KT framework
  • A portrait of digital literacy in occupational therapy
  • Digital Literacy in Occupational Therapy - A way forward
  • The emergence of ePortfolios in OT education and practice
  • The use of Facebook with vulnerable populations
  • Using digital curation to overcome information overload
  • OT24Vx - the only OT conference you can attend in your PJs
  • How to run an "Online Journal Club"

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tablet Ultrasound System

Mobisante launches tablet ultrasound

Summary of article by Michael Bassett 24 April 2013 

I know this does not relate to occupational therapy, however this intrigued me as a health consumer and got me excited about how quickly technology is developing.  
Here is a summary of the article sent to my by Nikki Esplin.

Mobisante has launched a tablet-based version of its portable ultrasound system, MobiUS, complementing the smartphone version launched two years ago.
  • The tablet-based system is called the MobiUS TC1
  • Uses more powerful ultrasound probes
  • Uses a larger screen to review high-resolution ultrasound images
  • Can be used without immediate access to electrical power
  • Tablet’s battery life can provide up to 4.5 hours of continuous scanning

Applications listed by the original author include:
  • Trauma e.g. the ability to diagnose and treat hemorrhage and pneumothorax or screen for cardiac tamponade.
  • Routine screening, e.g. bladder volume, carotid intimal thickness, deep vein thrombosis or abdominal aortic aneurysm.
  • Musculoskeletal ultrasound e.g.ultrasound-guided joint directions or aspirations, and injury assessments.
  • Abdominal or pelvic pain
  • Obstetrics and gynecology e.g. including the assessment of the foetal lie and viability or monitoring of the uterus and ovaries during infertility treatements.
  • Ultrasound guided procedures such as anesthesia, intravenous placement, biopsies, drainag of abscesses, localization and removal of foreign bodies. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

MakerBot Industries - Making hands in a 3D printer!

We all love a good news story, well this one came to me via an student of mine here at the University of the Sunshine Coast (thanks Joanne), I had to share it via my blog as soon as I knew about it.

MakerBot Industries is the brain child of Richard Van As from Johannesburg in South Africa.

Richard had an accident in the workshop and his fingers were cut off but when he asked for help with creating a new hand that would help return to being a tradesman he was told it was not possible.

Richard didn't take no for an answer and was determined to use his hands fully so he started his own research and connected with very helpful people (such as Ivan Owen, who has a background in mechanical special effects).  Richard and Ivan started the design process from across the globe, and each had a 3D printer to create the prosthesis, critiquing it and tweaking it along the way.

The result was a hand that suited Richard's lifestyle and an idea that could help thousands of others - thus the Robohand was born!  Watch this video for the full story and see stories about several children who have also been helped by MakerBot Industries and the Robohand. 

This is a brilliant new way to make prostheics using 3D printing technology!

For more information check out their:
Facebook page:

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Do you want to be inspired? The Incredible Power of a Single Pair Of Glasses

This story is directly from Huff Post TED Weekends

It all started with Date Night.

My wife and I received advice long ago that Date Night was the key to a successful marriage.

We had plans, but a friend came by and asked if we wanted to go to an art show instead.

That was the night I was introduced to Tempt.

When we got to the show there were posters and signs everywhere saying "TemptOne Benefit." There was a palpable buzz about the place. I kept hearing people talking about this Tempt. Even the art on the walls by incredibly famous artists had his name worked into them. After being there a while and hearing about this Tempt, I finally asked "So where is this guy anyway?" The answer was shocking. "He lives in a hospital. On life support. He's completely paralyzed. He has ALS."

Tempt in his hospital bed. Photo credit: Mick Ebeling via Huffington Post
Since that night, my life has never really been the same.

The EyeWriter has been a journey, and due to the nature of ALS it's a never-ending one. It started in 2008, and it continues on today.

I am often asked, "Why did you do it?" The first time I heard this question, I was caught off guard. I had never really thought about "why" I did it. I was always just focused on the "how" to get it done.
I boiled the HOW down to 3 things:

1. Singularity of focus.
We weren't trying to create the next big thing. We didn't have visions of revolutionizing the medical device industry. We wanted to help Tempt. One person. I think that had we gone in with visions of sugarplums and tried to help all people with ALS, we would have missed the mark of creating something that helped Tempt because we would have been so distracted. Singularity of focus kept us and keeps us on track.

2. Give it away.
Giving something away is a powerful thing, but I had no idea how powerful it really is. When we first created the EyeWriter in the living room of our house, it was decided that if we were going to make this thing to help Tempt draw again, then it had to be open source. Understanding the practice of open source within the software world did not prepare me for what this philosophy was capable of when applied outside of the world of programming. I can say, without a doubt, that the act of giving the EyeWriter away was one of the most important and powerful components of the project. We made a documentary about the EyeWriter journey called "Getting Up: The Tempt One Story." (We want this story shared so we are giving it away at
The open-source design of the EyeWriter. Photo credit: Mick Ebeling via Huffington Post

3. Beautiful, limitless naivety.
After our documentary premiered in Park City, a group of computer programmers approached us to tell us how much they enjoyed the film. They told us that since seeing our film they had been discussing amongst themselves why they thought we had succeeded. Their consensus? "If you had any f***ing idea how hard it was to do what you did, there was no way you would have done it in the first place." They had discussed this idea amongst themselves and concluded that they should become more like us. "Clueless?" I asked. "Sort of... more like naive," they replied. Turns out, our naivety was the key to us tackling the EyeWriter with brave abandon. We didn't know that we weren't supposed to be able to do it. We didn't know that kind of thing doesn't really happen in 2.5 weeks. We didn't know what we didn't know. And because of that, the entire team just did it because no one ever contemplated or considered the concept of failure.

Now the WHY.
Since this project has been ongoing since 2008, I've had some time to think about the "why." Why I pushed so hard to make the EyeWriter for a person I didn't really know at first. Why it was so successful. Why it seems to touch people in such a powerful and meaningful way.

I did it for my brother. I did it for my dad. I did it for my sons. It's really that simple.

The day I met with Stephen and Ron, Tempt's brother and father, it was like looking in a mirror that somehow, luckily, had avoided me.

I am a father. I have sons. I have a brother. I could not imagine what it would be like to not be able to talk to them everyday and ask them what they were thinking or feeling. Basic communication was nearly impossible for Tempt. That struck me as wrong.

Why did I do it? Because I don't think anyone who has stared face to face with a reality like that can just walk away and say, "Good luck. I hope everything works out for you." You can't walk away from someone or something that hits that close to home. I had no idea how it was going to affect my life -- or more importantly -- how I was going to pull it off. But I knew I could not, in good conscience, just walk away. 

The words spoken through text by Tempt - Screen capture via TED
 Mick finishes his talk with two questions:
  1. If not now then when?  
  2. If not you then who?
Link to the TED Talk by Mick Ebeling

Link to the Not Impossible Foundation website

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The pros and cons of being a virtual presenter at conference

Artist: Gillian Crossley
Today I had the honour of being a virtual presenter at the American Occupational Therapy Association's annual national conference.  I have presented live at AOTA twice before and have enjoyed it very much but I have never presented "virtually".

I have mixed feelings about presenting online (yes - even VirtualOT would prefer to be face to face) but now that I live back in Australia and the academic calendar is not in line with the Canadian/US academic calendar both distance and work commitments meant that I needed to find an option to presenting live or I would have to withdraw from presenting altogether.

Never one to back down from a challenge I proposed to my co-presenters that I could "beam in" from Australia, both teams responded enthusiastically and we started to plan to overcome the tyranny of distance. I was part of a panel presentation titled "What's new in digital and social media for occupational therapy" with Karen Dobyns (aka @funkist), Chris Alterio (aka @ChrisAlterio), Erik Johnson (aka @ArmyOTGuy) and Cheryl Morris (aka @otnotes), and I was  also part of Tech Day in a workshop titled "Digital Curation in Occupational Therapy" with Susan Burwash (aka @SuBu_OT).  Being part of groups meant that I had people on the ground at the conference, so with their assistance I was able to be beamed in.

So how did we pull this off?  Well, a lot more planning goes into preparation for a presentation that is delivered from a remote location.  For starters, we have to assume that technology will fail and we will need a backup plan, ie: the presentation needs to be pre-recorded and uploaded to YouTube or Vimeo to be played in lieu of a live presentation.  In order to be ready with a recording this meant that we needed to have broken down the panel topics and worked on our own sections well ahead of the date of the conference.  Both Cheryl and I were in this position, Cheryl's reason was that she was about to become a mum and her due date was during the time of the conference!

Digital technology played an important role in the planning and delivery of both presentations.  We met online using Blackboard Collaborate or Skype, we kept our meeting notes in Google Docs, we created our presentation collaboratively using PowerPoint, then Cheryl and I translated these via movie making programs to narrated videos that were then uploaded to YouTube.
Bill Wong records the session and tweets simultaneously
On the day the technology didn't all work and our plan B had to become the Plan A for the panel presentation.  I could see into the room via the webcam on Erik Johnson's laptop, but the sound quality was poor and there was a nasty feedback loop occurring on the laptop.  That was when we simply decided to play the YouTube clip rather than have me speak live.  The absolute winning tech hack of the day was Susan Burwash's suggestion to use Skype from her iPhone to me sitting on my computer.  It was perfect!  I could watch who was presenting via the webcam, hear what was being presented via Susan's phone and I was able to watch twitter and contribute throughout the whole 1.5 hours!  It was amazing!
Chris Alterio delivering his part of the presentation
Erik demonstrates how to use SoMe during a presentation

My view of Karen Dobyns as she presents

Michael Iwama talks about using digital technologies

Karen wrapped up the presentation and then asked the audience for questions, discussion points and so on.  There were some excellent points raised, another "shout out" about OT24Vx and then Michael Iwama (aka @Michael_Iwama) was asked to speak about his use of a broad range of digital media in relation to his development of the Kawa Model.  Michael talked about his use of dicussion forums, Facebook and now Twitter to connect with people about the Kawa Model and occupational therapy in general.

Susan Burwash and Gillian Crossley at Tech Day
In the Tech Day presentation additional social media tools such as Learnist, Storify, Scoopit, Pinterest and PaperLi were going to be featured, therefore Susan focused attention on building the presentation within these resources and created a beautiful and informative Learnist called Digital Curation in Occupational Therapy which captured the concept of digital curation beautifully. 

In the lead up to the conference Susan and I discussed having more support on the ground and as our virtual friend Gillian Crossley was going to be at #aota13 Susan asked her to come and support her during the Tech Day presentation.  She provided excellent support and enthused those present to give SoMe a try!  In the background two more virtual friends supported the presentation; Brock Cook (aka @keeper85) made himself available online to curate his MH4OT Learnist board during the presentation and Helen Rushton (aka HelenOTUK) prepared a blog post about using various tools for digital curation.  While Susan presented in San Diego with Gillian's support I created a new PaperLi called Highlights from #AOTA13 and Brock approved new content for his MH4OT Learnist.

So, after today's amazingly positive experience would I say there are any drawbacks to presenting virtually?  Absolutely!  For those of you with conference experience you will appreciate the contrast.  At conference I enjoy having the opportunity to see the audience, I can respond to the body language of those in the room and I'm not ashamed to say that I enjoy basking in the afterglow of a job (hopefully) well done.  Sometimes there are "high fives" and people give words of congratulations.  I always leave the room feeling more accomplished than when I went in.

In contrast, today, as a virtual presenter when I finished the presentation the computer program used to connect me to the presentation room was turned off.  I sat alone, with my computer, in silence.  Completely disconnected from the conference, the attendees, the atmosphere, the engagement.  It is like literally pulling the plug or turning off a switch; you're on then you're off! 

So is it worth it?  I would say yes.  It's better to have presented virtually than not at all, it's great to showcase the possibilities of digital technologies and I believe that this is an important component of conferences of the future.  Not only does it make it easier for me as a presenter, this is truly a more sustainable option for the world - I did not catch a plane to the USA for this conference!

In summary; what are the pros and cons of virtual presentations?

  1. Saves time and money (travel, accommodation, time off work etc)
  2. Ecologically more sustainable (no planes, hotels and eating out)
  3. People who might otherwise not be able to present can be given a virtual microphone (think - lower income)
  4. It exemplifies how digital media can be used in knowledge transfer activities in occupational therapy (if we demonstrate it they will see the potential)

  1. The feeling of isolation when the presentation is finished
  2. It is more work leading up to the conference as multiple levels of organisation are required
  3. You don't get to go to the pub with your friends afterwards
I can live with these cons! I've just debriefed here, so it's not all bad!

And don't let me forget to mention that Cheryl had a baby boy!  Congratulations Cheryl.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Embedding Twitter into teaching activities.

The new academic year has started and as usual I am embedding technology in my teaching.  This semester I am going to be more consciously using Twitter to post information to my current students rather than using Twitter to connect with my online colleagues.

I am doing this because it is time to start applying what I have been discovering through my PhD research, which is that many OTs are using online technologies but many do not yet use technology well for information management and knowledge transfer activities. 

I have added a new hashtag to my frequently used list. It is the course code #OCC311 of the course that I am teaching this semester at the University of the Sunshine Coast. This course is titled Enabling Occupation: The adult. The focus is on understanding and critically anaylsing occupational therapy approaches.

I would really appreciate input by the online OT community to demonstrate to students the power of social media in information management and knowledge transfer.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Let's Celebrate World OT Day

About a week ago I posted this on the OT4OT page in Facebook.  I have decided to use this as a launching place for my reflection for this year’s World OT Day blogging carnival being run by Linda Harrison in Winnipeg Manitoba.  Thanks for running this again Linda J.

Here’s what I wrote: Tonight I couldn't sleep because I had lots running through my mind. One of the various threads was this one:  About 5 years ago I was scared that our profession was about to miss the tidal wave of change that was about to occur with the advent of Web2.0. (interactive online technologies).  I hoped that OTs would learn to 'surf' the tide of change (I visualized us riding Malibu boards). 

I recently had a new visual, one of the biblical story of Noah's Ark, I realized that rather than riding Malibu boards we had in fact built a virtual Noah's ark and OTs from around the globe had built it together!!  I think this Ark has been an amazing Sanctuary for the early adopters of online technologies in our profession, and we continue to welcome others on board, the Ark grows as each occupant joins us! It's growth has been exponential.  This Ark has recently grown to the size that meant our professional associations have begun to recognize our knowledge and skills and are asking for our help so they can be part of the tide of change.
OT4OT, the various 4OT groups in FB, the #OTalk & #Occhat group in Twitter, the ATeam at AOTA conference, and of course OT24Vx have been game changers! I am so proud of everything we have achieved so far! Lets keep going!  Those on the Ark need to continue to grow, develop and stay abreast of the constant change. That way we keep the Ark growing and moving forwards. It's time for us to let our employers and our communities know that digital technology is part of everyday life, it's necessary for so many occupations. It is an essential tool for practice.
The response to my middle of the night musings was incredible.  My OT4OT colleagues joined in by reflecting on their individual and now shared journeys in the world of digital technology.
Merrolee wrote: “…being one of the first floaters who had to connect with the other OT4OT guys before we could really get the ark underway - my dream was that this was what social medial would be able to achieve for our profession. I watched how teachers of kids were using the tools for their professional development and kept thinking that this was the solution for our profession and for the professional isolation that many of us can feel! Whats stunning for us (if I can speak for my OT4OT buddies) is that the swell is here... we've reached critical mass and the spinoffs that are now occuring is amazing.. (in fact we are now having to paddle really fast to keep up ourselves!)... but I'm sure we have more advances/ideas in the wings... when we have time to catch our breath!
Susan wrote: “Merrolee - like you I'd been bobbing at sea for a while. I had been the "Web Goddess" in the early days of the web and had traveled far and wide to share what I knew then. Taking a break from OT I had (mostly) great experiences being a member of various online artisan communities of practice. It was us all coming together and building the ark that got me as excited about technology and OT as I had been in the Web 1.0 days. And all these fellow travelers in the armada - wow!!”
Others reflected on the changes they were experiencing now that they are connected to a group of occupational therapists via the online world.  It is clear that digital technology is having a profound impact on OTs, as it is helping OTs to feel connected with each other and with the profession - it helps us to belong. 
Rob wrote:Working as a sole practitioner in an emerging practice area, I have found being a part of the 4OT movement as has been one of the main ways I have stayed connected. My work didn't really fit into one or two 'traditional' CPD groups to learn and share. So, I really thank you for making knowledge learning and sharing accessible, relevant and cutting edge.”  (Can I mention here that Rob was the person who encouraged ME to go on Facebook and MySpace!)
Allison wrote: “MH4OT and OT4OT are really the only reasons why I still go on fb. Otalk and Occhat have become my favorite tools for ongoing professional dialogue and community. The camaraderie I have found in these forums has been incredibly inspiring after having struggled with profound professional isolation through two decades of practice. Anita, much as I am challenged by sea travel, with you and your amazing international team of visionaries at the helm, my bags are packed and I've book a one-way ticket on the great interconnected occupational narrative you have helped me construct to add depth and passion to my practice that I had not felt possible previously. Keep up the great work. You give us all something to cheer”.

and Allison then added in a further post:
“I embraced this vision in my teaching as well, creating a Facebook page for the student OT group at my school 3 years ago for the marketing unit in my management course, as well as a Twitter account. Students take turns promoting the program and OT through these venues and it provokes a lot of interest in an area of instruction that had formerly been a real snooze-fest. I have gone on to create twitter assignments for student participation in twitter # chats concerning an array of mental health topics, and see unlimited teaching potential in this medium. I appreciate the inspiration and leadership from the originators of the OT4OT and only hope to contribute what I can to move OT into the next centennial as the vibrant, innovative, holistic approach to healing that we all know it to be.”
To top it off Gillian Crossley created a caricature drawing of the OT4OT Ark!  I believe that being represented as a caricature is the ultimate compliment, so thank you Gillian for giving us that gift.
So, where have we come from and where are we heading as a digitally literate profession?  Well that is the topic of my PhD and I am about to complete my thesis and publish some papers about this very topic.  Let me just say that in the parts of the world that I surveyed, OT has embraced digital technology well and watching the rapid development of skills recently I can see that we are in good hands when it comes to leadership and teamwork in the digital world.  But we are not there yet and we need to be  persistent and strategic to move forwards. 
Happy World OT Day!

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