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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.

Monday, December 22, 2008


Ok, another virtual timewaster, and an opportunity to express your frustrations without really being direct... Here's Graph Jam (thanks to Sue Waters for pointing this one out too).

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Crappy graphs

If Sue Waters from Edublogger thinks that crappy graphs is a good tool, then I'm prepared to give it a go. Here's my creation:

TechnOT: UN launches e-learning collaborative effort

Synchronicity occurred today when I also came across this information from the wikieducator website where Archbishop Desmond Tutu talks about digital freedom for knowledge transfer in education. This links perfectly with the UN launched e-learning collaborative.

UN launches e-learning collaborative effort

UN launches e-learning collaborative effort
By Rebecca Wanjiku, Computerworld Kenya
16 Dec, 2008

Sixteen U.N. agencies have merged their efforts to establish UNeLearn, a technology-supported project to share information and expertise in 160 developing countries.

Technology-supported learning offers tremendous potential to address the capacity development needs of a wide range of beneficiaries in developing countries, said Achim Steiner, executive director of the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP).

"The work of the U.N. country teams will ultimately be strengthened through this collaboration, and member states will be better served," he added.

The project will allow the U.N. agencies to collaborate on the sustained deployment of e-learning, which has faced challenges in developing countries.

By agreeing to pool and share their collective training resources and shift towards technology-supported learning, UNeLearn is expected to help U.N. agencies eliminate duplicative activities, reduce costs and reach a wider client base.

"As a first step towards the implementation of the project, a comprehensive stock-taking exercise is planned to commence early in 2009 to identify and integrate quality-assured training resources from across the U.N. system," Steiner said.

The U.N. Staff College will host online content for training in areas such as agriculture, development, education, environment, food security, health and human rights.

The project will address issues of how universities, schools and training departments are teaching; the power of storytelling and other narrative approaches in the design of online learning; and the sustainability of open education resources.

Collaboration will also focus on communities' impact on learning facilitated by Web 2.0 applications and developments in games-based approaches and mobile technologies.

The initiative is inspired by the U.N.'s "Delivering as One" concept, which aims to maximize coherence among U.N. projects at the country-level to implement the Millennium Development Goals.

Some of the organizations taking part in UNeLearn are the Food and Agricultural Organization; The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; the U.N. Development Programme; UNEP; the U.N. High Commission for Refugees; the U.N. Secretariat; U.N. University; the World Food Program; and the World Trade Organization.

Louise Shaper in Perth WA passed this on, thanks Louise! :-)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The wonders of skype

I use Skype almost every day in my personal and professional life. It's free and easy to use and so personal! My sister and I cook together with our laptops on in our kitchens, chatting while doing our "chores". She's in Melbourne and I'm in Edmonton! My nieces and nephews play imaginary games with me through the computer screen, feeding me imaginary cake or giving me presents!

More and more we are integrating Skype into teaching in schools and higher education.

Rather than create my own set of "how to" instructions here, which is time-consuming, I will link to Blogs where others have already done the hard work. Here are two links to follow if you want to learn more about setting up Skype and want to link with others who are already successfully doing this.

The Edublogger has a "how to set up skype" guide, followed by discussions, this is based on higher education settings.
An online e-journey with generation Y tells us about their experiences using Skype in their schools

Podcasting & Web 2.0: Implications for Health Care Education

Check out this SlideShare Presentation:

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Is this a conference you would like to go to?

Web 2.0 expo

The Power of Less

"We do some of our best work when we’re constrained: by budgets, by headcount, by technology, by the economy. These are the times when bureaucracy and waste die by necessity. What’s left are ideas, and the muscle to make them real."

2009 will be a tough year in many ways, but now more than ever, the core concepts of Web 2.0 provide an advantage. Lightweight tools, user interfaces, and development models will help streamline productivity and focus resources; new business models will emerge out of the environment of change. Transparency and openness will help avoid disasters and extend our influence, as we learn to trust users as co-developers. Marketers can’t afford to ignore the value of social media, communities, and a new set of analytics. On an individual, team, company, and global level, this is the year we will choose to work on what matters.

So, where is healthcare going with this? Are we part of the big picture that big business has?

Barriers to Web 2.0 in OT education

I am passionate about linking occupational therapists in the online environment... however, right now my perceived barriers are these:
1. Health care practitioners are people-people, therefore a computer is seen as a barrier to their ultimate goal of working with people (even though Web 2.0 IS so interactive!!!).
2. The curriculum is so tight that it is almost impossible to embed new technologies without going over the allowed hours.
3. Students are competitive for grades and do not like to share their new knowledge (not all of them, but most of them) and this means that Web 2.0 is counter-intuitive to their ingrained learning modes.
4. Students are feeling pressured to "get through the curriculum" not taking time to think and problem solve, so taking time to work collaboratively is like pulling teeth.
5. Students have become more like "consumers" of an education product as opposed to creators of their own knowledge, therefore point 4 applies again.
6. Health care practice settings do not allow Internet access or time to build online networks, therefore it is all on your own time and from home.

HOWEVER... I believe that it is important to create opportunities for networked learning as it is the key to lifelong learning.

My experience tells me to:
1. Start small first (small technology tasks that don't have huge grades attached)
2. Run parallel education sessions about Web 2.0 technology for health care practitioners in the field, so that there is a willing audience waiting for our graduates
3. Reduce components of the curriculum if possible to create space for learning about online technologies (wikis, blogs, podcasts, and SL)
4. Network with others who are having success and ask them for help!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Networked Student

I followed a link from a blog called Wishful Thinking in Medical Education (a great blog!) to this YouTube clip featured on a blog called TechTicker. An excellent discussion follows below the YouTube clip and Mike Bogle discusses his post further in a video clip of his own! How Cool!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Occupational therapy groups on facebook

There is a rapidly growing number of OT groups on Facebook, that are both serious and social. Over the next few days I'm going to find them and list them here.

This is a snapshot of what's happening in this corner of the Web 2.0 world for our profession.

I'll list if it is an open or closed group, I'll also highlight student groups too. The bottom list is those groups that I believe are unprofessional.

Professional Networking Groups

American Occupational Therapy Association: open group
Collaborating and sharing ideas with other occupational therapists: open group
Darwin OT: open to Australian networks
Bored Of Fluffy Occupational Therapy: open group
Facebook Occupational Therapy Association: open group
Health, Physical Educators, Exercise Science, PT, OT, and Nurses: open interdisciplinary student networking group
Hong Kong Occupational Therapy: closed group
I'm an occupational therapist/OT student and I have something to say!: open group
I'm tired of having to explain what occupational therapy is: open group
Is OT Worthwhile?: open group
I've worked at St Thomas'/Guys as an OT!!!: open group
Los Angeles OT Leadership Forum: open group
Occupational Therapists (OTs) for Refugees: open group
Occupational Therapists Having External Reproductive Systems: open group
Occupational Therapy at the University of Salford: open group
Occupational Therapy: What's in it for you?: open group
OTs are hot: open group
OT AUSTRALIA National: open group
OT AUSTRALIA QLD: open group
OT from ACTT: open group
OT Hand Party - An Occupational Perspective: open group
OT Jobs Help: open group
OT Malaysia: closed group
OT meeting space: closed group
Princess Margaret Hospital OT: open group
St.Theresa's hospital OT: closed group
The OT Principles: open group
Top 10 Reasons to Stay Up Late with an Occupational Therapist: open group
Union Hospital OT: open group
What YOU need to know about occupational therapy: open group
Yes, I am a Occupational Therapist and no we don't wipe bums!!: open group

Student groups:
AUT OT '08: open group
Christ Church OT class of 2008: open group
Cumbo students OT graduating 2011: open group
Curtin OT Students: open group
Curtin students '09: open group
Dalhousie MSc(OT) 2010: closed group
Dalhousie BSc Alumni: open group
Deakin OT Alumni: closed group
Deakin OT graduates 2007: closed
Deakin OT Grads of '09 open group
Derby OT Students - Class of 2008: open group
Derby Uni OT students-Class of 2009: open group
Downstate OT 2010: open group
ECU OT UE Rehab Club open group
Entering Physiotherapy or OT at McMaster University in Sep. 2008? open group
First year O.T '08: open group
1st year Wits OT 2008: open group
Future Physical/Occupational Therapist: open group
GCU OT Society: open group
LLTC 'B' 2008 OT!: open group
LOOKING FOR A MAJOR? NOT SURE WHAT TO DO? O.T. is the way to go!!: open group
MCG OT 2010: closed group
McGill 2008-2012 PT-OT: closed group
McGill PT & OT 2007-2011: closed group
McMaster MSc. OT Grad Class of 2009: open group
Monash OT: open group
My OT professor wants me to do what?: open group
Occupational Performance HELP!!!: open group
Occupational Therapy-OT
OT at Stockton: open group
OT CSU class of 2008: closed group
OT Class of 97: open group
OT class of 2009: open group
OT Class of 2010: open group
OT Group: open to Australian networks
OT@ECU It Started With Us!: open to Australian networks
OT@TUKS: open group
OT at LaTrobe: open
OT Students: open group
OT students in Bethlehem university closed group
OT students 2nd Year 2008: open group
O.T sTuDeNts r SpEcIaL tOO!!!!! :): open group
OT Vs PT 3 - The Last Stand: open group
OT Masters Class of 2009 open group
Philly OT Event: open group
PT/OT Frosh 2008: closed group
Poly U OT: open group
Queens University OT class of '09: open group
Sargent College OT Alumni Group: closed group
Touro OT: closed group
UCT-OT: open group
Uni of Derby OT Student and proud to be: open group
UQ graduates of 2008: open group
UEA Occupational Therapy: open group
University of Utah OT class of 2010 open group
UWO OT class of 2005: open group

Other groups related to or created by OTs
Six Degrees Of Healthcare/Medical Separation: open group
Web 2.0 for healthcare: closed group

Negative side of facebook groups that have OT in their title
OT Blokes Who Love Hitting The Piss and Not Working Much: open group
OT Booze Cruise '08: closed group
Yeah Bitch, I'm OT: open group

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Another good e-health blog

I've just added a link to eHealth, a blog devoted to eHealth and Health IT. There are some excellent posts and also some excellent links.

The volume of activity happening in the USA since Barack Obama was elected has been unbelievable. We're hopefully going to see rapid development of excellent online healthcare resources as a result of this. See this post on Cup of Buzz Blog for an example of what's happening!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Online Healthcare Gets Personal

Health 2.0 and the Healing Power of Supportive Communities

As we know, social networks are gaining widespread acceptance, and people of all ages are accessing the internet not just to get information but also to find, give and receive emotional support.

In a recent report from CarePages, they discuss that scientific studies provide evidence that such support has significant health benefits.

An excerpt from their full report:
"For people facing a health crisis or a chronic, debilitating condition, Health 2.0 is not just about innovative technology – although technical advances such as the expansion of broadband have made Internet applications easier to access and use. Technology, however, is only an enabling tool to help these Health 2.0 individuals get what they really want – the opportunity to connect with others who will help them feel better physically, emotionally, mentally and/or spiritually."

This report links with three of my other posts. The first one where I talked about the incredible support my father received from an online support group, after he was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer, the post I made about "doing being and becoming a blogger, to belong in a virtual world" and one linked to that... about the blogging project we are planning with Edmonton Brain Injury Relearning Society... to facilitate safe blogging with people who have an acquired brain injury.

Monday, December 1, 2008

TechnOT: Why OT's need to be online

TechnOT: Why OT's need to be online
This earlier post on "Why OTs need to be online" links with today's post on "Web searches feed health fears" this article claims that we are becoming cyberchondriacs!

If health professionals have a larger presence in the online world would this make this problem better or worse I wonder?

The future of online learning 10 years on

Stephen Downes, an educator and researcher in New Brunswick Canada reflects on his essay entitled The Future of Online Learning. In a recent post on his blog he has reviewed and updated this essay, finding that many of his predictions made ten years ago were quite accurate. Visit this link to read the essay in Stephen's blog or download a word version from the blog site.

Web searches feed health fears

BBC News Monday, 1 December 2008

Health information online is breeding a generation of cyberchondriacs - people who needlessly fear the worst diagnosis after surfing the net, say researchers.

A team at Microsoft studied health-related Web searches on popular search engines and surveyed 515 employees about their health-related searching.

Web searches had the potential to escalate fears - like a headache was caused by a brain tumour, for example.

Experts said people concerned about their health should see a doctor.

Self-diagnosis by search engine

Microsoft conducted the study to improve its own search engine.

Roughly 2% of all the Web queries were health-related, and about 250,000 users, or a quarter of the sample, engaged in a least one medical search during the study.

The Web can be a useful tool to find out more information about conditions, but it should not replace talking to an expert
A spokeswoman from NHS Direct

The researchers found Web searches for common symptoms such as headache and chest pain were just as likely or more likely to lead people to pages describing serious conditions as benign ones, even though the serious illnesses are much more rare.

Searching for "chest pain" or "muscle twitches" returned terrifying results with the same frequency as less serious ailments, even though the chances of having a heart attack or a fatal neurodegenerative condition is far lower than having simpleindigestion or muscle strain, for example.

About a third of the 515 Microsoft employees who answered a survey on their medical search habits "escalated" their follow-up searches to explore serious, rarer illnesses.

Although the work does not give firm proof that searching the web increases health fears - users may simply be curious about a condition - the researchers say it is likely in some circumstances.

"Our results show that Web search engines have the potential to escalate medical concerns," said Eric Horvitz, an artificial intelligence researcher for Microsoft.

Trusted sources

A spokeswoman from NHS Direct said health information on the Web was no substitute for expert advice.

"It is always a good idea to talk to a clinician who can point you in the right direction if you are concerned about your health.

"The Web can be a useful tool to find out more information about conditions, but it should not replace talking to an expert."

Henry Scowcroft, of Cancer Research UK, said trusted patient information websites could be useful resources.

"Paradoxically, the problem in the UK is that many people are still unaware of the symptoms of cancer, and delay in seeing a doctor is one of the key reasons why this country's cancer survival figures lag behind the best in Europe.

"It's important to study this area further, but we must also remember that many people still have no access to the wealth of information online, and that health inequalities - including inequality of information access - are widening, not narrowing."

Did you know: Shift happens... 2008 version

The Future of Education

Future of Education
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: knowledge informl)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

What's next on the web

Web Technology Trends for 2008 and Beyond, May 2008 Update

From: ricmac,
6 months ago

An overview of emerging web technology trends, as covered on top tech blog ReadWriteWeb; such as Websites becoming web services, Semantic Apps, Open Data, Mobile Web, Recommendation Engines. This presentation was given by ReadWriteWeb Founder and Editor Richard MacManus at XMediaLab, Wellington, May 2008.

SlideShare Link

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Want a laugh?

This awesome animation by Alan Becker has us enthralled! It's not just clever computer animation but an incisive depiction of frustration by the "victim".

Click here to go to the link: sit back and watch.

Thanks for sharing this Trish :-)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Shazam! A Projector Is Shrunk

Thanks Susan Burwash for this link...
The New York Times
Published: November 5, 2008

Optoma Pico really shines.

The Walkman put a stereo system in your pocket and changed the game forever. A modern digital watch has the computing power of a roomful of 1950s computer gear. And people are watching TV shows these days on iPods about the size of a business card.

Enormous feats of shrinkage like that don’t come along very often, though. So when they do, you sit up and take notice — as you will the first time you see the Optoma Pico Projector ($430 list price). It’s a long-awaited, much-rumored projector about the size of a cellphone: 2 by 4.1 by 0.7 inches, weighing 4.2 ounces.

A pocket projector? Are you kidding? This isn’t just a new product — it’s a whole new product category. To read the whole article click on this link

Monday, November 3, 2008

Wikiflash is happening

For those of you who love all things web2.0 and want OT to really get a move on in this area, then wikiflash needs you! Go to the wikipedia occupational therapy article then sign in and become a contributor. The University of Salford is taking the lead here, and they need players! Once you've made a contribution go to OT Wikiflash to enroll and get credit for your contribution! It's so easy.

Get going Web 2.0 OTs!!! (Webtwoots)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Disability is Natural Website

While preparing for a course with first year OT students I "Googled" the term "people first language". I stumbled across Kathy Snow's website called Disability is Natural and read her downloadable document about people first language.

I asked for Kathy's permission to use this in teaching and she was happy to help me spread this information to help inform future health care practitioners that person first language is NOT about political correctness, but about respect and dignity.

Another downloadable document puts forward Kathy's case against the term "Special Needs". This is also very clearly written.

This is yet another example of the power of the internet as a tool for education.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Adaptive Toys

We are working on a case study about an 18-month old boy who has hemiplegia and we are up to the part where the students present their plan to the "mom". Here are some links one our second year MScOT students shared with the class today. Brittany recommends Special Kids Zone and says "this site has the most amazing AT, toys, adapted everything, you name it, you can probably find it there!" and the next site is Cerebral Palsy toys and play aids, which has some really good information about CP and toys.

Thanks for sharing your new knowledge :-)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Salford University Occupational Therapy Education Blog: How do YOU engage in activity?

Salford University Occupational Therapy Education Blog: How do YOU engage in activity?

This post about students commenting on their leisure activities and how they achieve a sense of doing, being and becoming through these activities links very well with a post I also made about doing, being, becoming a blogger and belonging in a virtual community.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

TechnOT: Using a computer is an Activity of Daily Living (ADL)

It's refreshing to see that Verdonck and Ryan (2008) state that technology can be useful to improve both functional independence and occupational performance in every day OT practice by using mainstream technologies, including information and communication technologies such as the internet, computer software, portable devices and computer games, in their everyday interventions. This article ALSO used the CMOP to articulate how computer technology is impacting every aspect of our lives.
Another reason to get a copy of this article if you want a great glossary of terms for technology!

Verdonck, M. C., & Ryan, S. (2008). Mainstream technology as an occupational therapy tool: technophobe or technogeek? British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 71(6), 253-256.
TechnOT: Using a computer is an Activity of Daily Living (ADL)


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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Using a computer is an Activity of Daily Living (ADL)

Lane and Ziviani (1999) state that technology access become an increasingly important Activity of Daily Living however I am not certain that occupational therapists think terribly deeply about the significance of computer access in daily life. It's probably not even a standard question in an ADL assessment!

Using the Canadian Model of Occupational Performance and Engagement (CMOP-E) we can identify how pervasive the computer has become in our lives and see that assessing how, where, when and why our clients use computers is Core OT business!


How do computers impact affect? Well, we all know the frustration of a computer "crashing" or forgetting how or where you saved a precious document and so on, but we also know the joy of conquering a new program, making our first slide show, or maybe the sense of connectedness through emailing a friend or joining an online community.

Cognitive: Computer use varies in its complexity, depending on the task you are doing. Many people find computers easier to use with guidance and practice, demonstrating that accessing a computer regularly facilitates ease of use. (See "affect" above for impact of cognitive level and computer program level being mis-matched!)

Physical: The ergonomics industry (and many OTs and PTs... and optometrists) have worked out that the physical impact of the computer has seen a boom in business. Not being able to touch type, over-using a mouse and staring too long at a screen are three typical sources of over-use injuries brought about by computer use.

Occupation The CMOP delineates occupation into three main areas; Productivity, Self-care and Leisure. This Taxonomy is a guide in breaking down areas of occupation. This Taxonomy can also be a source of frustration when we think about what to put under each productivity, self-care and leisure (e.g.: is cooking productivity, self-care or leisure!? Answer: depends what you're cooking!)

For this discussion we'll keep it simple... Computers have changed the world! Computers enable people to participate in productivity, self-care and leisure occupations that didn't exist 20 years ago. Computers store information (e.g.: work documents, recipes at home, photos, etc), connect people (e.g.: friends, family, support groups, work, social networking etc), provide entertainment (e.g.: games, social networking, buy tickets to a concert!), connect with databases and directories and so on.

Environment The CMOP names aspects of the environment as physical, institutional, cultural and social. All have been impacted by computers.

Our physical environments (built and natural) have changed since the advent of the computer. Computers have changed how we design and use our homes, people seek a place for their computer (or computers) that enables them to be online when they want and in a space they can spend extended periods. Wireless computer access has also meant that we can look up recipes while cooking in the kitchen, then take the computer to another room for another purpose.

In institutional environments such as the workplace, computers are the core tool used in nearly every industry, in towns and cities governments are paying for public spaces to be "connected" so that people can access their computers from almost anywhere. Our mountains have mobile towers on them and being able to access the internet using a mobile phone is fast becoming an expectation, not a dream!

Computers connected to the world wide web also enable access to new virtual communities. Virtual communities such as those in Facebook or MySpace create another social dimension for people to engage, socialize and learn from each other. Second Life is a rapidly growing community in the virtual world where you can walk and talk in the computer using an avatar to talk with other people. You can connect with special interest groups, get information on a range of topics, or simply "hang out" in a night club.

I think as OTs we need to keep in mind how to create safeguards to ensure that vulnerable people are not taken advantage of in all online communities.

Spirituality How does computer use relate to spirituality? Computers directly impact the users experience of purpose and meaning in their lives. Meaning and purpose is so often derived by the important roles we play and how we experience relationships with other people. Computers play a significant role in both these areas. Computers can enable us to achieve our potential in work and personal life. This is seen through the fact that so many people use a computer to effectively complete work tasks, to maintain links with and be involved in the lives of friends and family (email, Skype, MSN etc), to store precious memories in online photo albums, or to expand social horizons through social networking spaces or to manage personal problems in online support communities.

Engagement in the new text Enabling Occupation II (Townsend and Polatajko, 2007) 'E' was added to the model to depict 'engagement' in occupation.

Computers facilitate engagement in meaningful occupations in a range of environments. Therefore computer use is an important Activity of Daily Living and core OT business!

Lane, A., & Ziviani, J. (1999). Children's computer access: analysis of the visual-motor demands of software designed for children. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 62(1), 19-25.

Townsend, E. A., & Polatajko, H. J. (2007). Enabling occupation II : advancing an occupational therapy vision for health, well-being & justice through occupation /Elizabeth A. Townsend & Helene J. Polatajko, primary authors. Ottawa, Ontario: Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists.

Monday, October 13, 2008

TechnOT: Doing, being, becoming a blogger and belonging to a virtual community!

TechnOT: Doing, being, becoming a blogger and belonging to a virtual community!
I updated this blog entry tonight as I was reviewing the types of searches that got people to my blog. A vast number of the searches that landed people in my blog included words like: "what is doing being becoming". So I've added a bit more history on the model's development ahead of my story on doing, being becoming a blogger and belonging in a virtual world! I hope that this information is helpful!

New game gizmo uses mind control

Asher Moses, The Age Newspaper, Melbourne, Australia, May 7, 2008

An Australian company is gearing up to release a computer headset that allows people to control video games using only the power of their minds.

Emotiv Systems, founded by four Australian scientists in 2003, will release the $US299 ($315) EPOC headset on the US market this year.

Featuring 16 sensors that measure electrical impulses from the brain, the headset - which plugs into the PC's USB port - will enable games to register facial expressions, emotions and even cognitive thoughts, allowing players to perform in-game actions just by visualising them.

The headset works in a similar way to voice recognition, in that it must first be calibrated using Emotiv's software to recognise patterns in the user's electrical brain impulses, which are used to perform 30 preset actions.

What implications might this hardware and software have for people with communication disorders?

43 things... Is the COPM being challenged?

A website called 43 things asks you to name the things you'd like to do and asks others to tell how they did it!

Maybe OTs could use this site with clients to look at people's goals and discuss with their client how many people share this goal, read how others have achieved it and list their goal if it is not presently listed, to see what ideas they can get from people in this virtual community.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The future of knowledge transfer: Using Wikis in Physiotherapy education

OTBlogs Aggregator

There's a new OT Blog aggregator that pulls together all updates on OT Blogs so that you can keep tabs on them in just one site. I'd definitely recommend this as a site to have as an RSS feed to your own home page! This site was put together by Joan, a student at the U of A in Edmonton (she graduates in November 2009) . Well done Joan, this is great!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Gizmodo: A great place to review new gadgets

I was looking into video cameras for our OT department to use "in the field" and in prac exams with students. I found this excellent website Gizmodo where they review anything "techno", and really get into the nitty gritty of what each device can and cannot do. As it is a forum other reviewers post their opinions and comment back and forth, giving specifics about the assets and deficits of each gizmo! If you're looking at buying a new "toy" this is a great resource.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Why OT's need to be online

Most online health resources are not created by healthcare professionals (Potts, 2006). Resolving this requires understanding the value of and enhancing utility of Web2.0 tools by health professionals. Occupational therapists with these skills can lead teams in the implementation of online resources to disseminate quality health care information.
What are you doing to become Web2.0 literate and put quality healthcare information on the internet?
What are you doing to ensure the next generation of OT's is ready, willing and able to take the lead?

Click on this link to read the full report "E-patients With a Disability
or Chronic Disease" (Fox, 2007)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Doing, being, becoming a blogger and belonging to a virtual community!

Professor Ann Wilcock first coined the phrase "Doing, Being and Becoming" in her Sylvia Docker address at the OTAustralia National conference in Canberra in 1999. The address is available through this link to the Australian Occupational Therapy Journal

Since that address Professor Wilcock has added "Belonging" to her model as she states that without BELONGING we cannot truly BECOME our potential. This information was documented in the second edition of her text "An Occupational Perspective of Health"

I believe that by learning how to blog and becoming a blogger, enables us to belong to a new online community and move a step closer to one's potential.

Our role as OT's is to enable this transition!

Here's my example: I was teaching as a volunteer at Edmonton Brain Injury Re-learning Society (EBIRS) recently and when we finished our "basic computer course" I asked the participants where they would like to head next... they said they really wanted to access email and the internet. I asked what they would like to achieve on the internet and the answer was what I expected... to find things out!

I asked if anyone had blogged or heard of blogs. One person said "isn't that a place to meet people?" and I explained that it's more like an online journal or diary, you can have any type of content, it can be public or private and if it's public, people can leave comments on it. As we know, it can be a place to express feelings, a place to tell a story or as is the case with this blog, a place to delve deeper into topics around technology and OT.

One participant said, "I'd love to tell my story, about my stroke and my awful experiences in rehab". She started to cry, her sister sat beside her nodding, "yes she sure has a story to tell" her nods seemed to be saying. I said, "I think we need to get blogging!"

I mentioned this to the great people at EBIRS and their eyes lit up... "can you help us do this?" they asked. Well, of course I'd love to!

As I need to focus on teaching at the University during term time I wondered if I could share the load a bit with some students who had taken my "Emerging Technology in OT practice" module. I called for volunteers and two wonderful students Janet and Lana replied that they wanted to participate! (Update: Lily has also joined this group!)

I could see that we might have a story to share from this, so now we are in the throws of preparing an ethics project with full support from EBIRS. We hope that this story will be ready to share next year at the CAOT conference in Ottawa (abstract also being prepared).

So, Lana and Janet will find their feet as volunteer teachers by firstly teaching the group how to make their own home page in iGoogle. Assisting them to create a home page with all their favourite links will hopefully overcome one of the tricky parts of learning computers post-ABI... remembering how to apply new knowledge and skills.

Once that course is finished the participants will start to learn how to blog. One really important factor will be online safety.

PLEASE SHARE your experiences, tips and ideas to help us get this right. If you have taught people with an acquired Brain Injury to access the internet and even how to blog, we'd love to learn from you :-) We want to create a blog for "Learner Bloggers"

I've found some excellent emerging literature on the topic and will pull that together to share.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

HealthWrights and PROJIMO

Here's a link to learn about HealthWrights a non-profit organization committed to advancing the health, basic rights, social equality, and self-determination of disadvantaged persons and groups. PROJIMO believes that health for all people is only possible in a global society where the guiding principles are sharing, mutual assistance, and respect for cultural and individual differences.

Nothing About Us, Without Us: Developing Innovative Technologies For, By and With Disabled Persons. By David Werner with the PROJIMO team and many friends.

This online book highlights work being done in Mexico with kids with disabilities and their parents and friends.

From the website: This is an "idea book" about problem solving - not a "cookbook" with precise instructions and measurements for making pre-designed aids and equipment. It is about thinking problems through rather than just following instructions. Nevertheless, you can use it as a reference book concerning different disabilities, assistive devices, and methods of problem solving. What a great resource! Click on this link to read the book.

Learn more about David Werner and PROJIMO: Click on this link to see a presentation given by David Werner at the 5th Anniversary Seminar of JANNET (can someone tell me what that stands for?). The presentation is looking at the work being done by PROJIMO with the people in Mexico assisting them to regain mobility and function so that they can participate in meaningful occupations. Some pictures and stories are quite graphic.
PROJIMO believes very much in what a disabled activist in Zimbabwe, Africa said:
"It is society that needs to be rehabilitated."

SCI Pilot

SCI PILOT contains the assistive technology experiences and insights of individuals who have had a spinal cord injury. Rather than a catalogue of products, you'll find advice and strategies from those who have first hand experience in getting and using assistive devices, and descriptions of practical, homemade inventions that solve real-world problems. Visit this link to learn more.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Virtual Doctors

Virtual doctors about to be wheeled in.

Nick Miller from The Age newspaper (May 2, 2008) reports that four hospitals in north-western Victoria, Australia, are about to use "virtual doctors" to help treat emergency and critical-care patients.

The $12 million project comes at a time when specialists are in short supply in the bush, leaving sometimes inexperienced or overworked local doctors trying to cope with life-threatening trauma cases.

In the past, the conservative approach has been to "stabilise and fly them to Melbourne" ... with the new system, "if (the local doctor) gets to the point they feel uncomfortable with their ability to deal with something, they can just click on a button" and a specialist from a major teaching hospital will be on call.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Life in a virtual world

Ever thought about living completely in a virtual world? This book My Tiny Life: Crime and Passion in a Virtual World was referred to me by my colleague Susan Burwash and is available as a downloadable pdf file or you can buy it online.

Julian Dibbell’s My Tiny Life remains, to this day, the best book written about what it is like to live immersed in a virtual world. The fact that the world in question in text-based, and the events described happened over a decade ago, is completely irrelevant. You cannot call yourself knowledgeable about virtual worlds unless you have read this book.

OK... I'll download it and read it!More on this later then.

SEARCH: Swift Efficient Application of Research in Community Health

SEARCH stands for: Swift, Efficient Applicaiton of Research in Community Health. This independent not-for-profit corporation was initially launched by AHFMR in 1996. You can find background information about SEARCH Canada by visiting the website

One funded initiative is a desktop application for service providers (including support personnel) to search for evidence on topics related to long-term care. Although the evidence identified is not critically reviewed, they are rated by level of evidence and includes qualitative as well as quantitative data.

RSS Really Simple Syndication: How does it work?

Most people who visit Blogs regularly know about RSS, Really Simple Syndication. If you want to know how RSS works take a look at this clip on YouTube to learn about it. You can RSS this Blog if you like! :-)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Social Networking Dilemmas

Last month I reluctantly agreed to join Facebook to keep up with certain people who "meet" there... (yep, I'm still an old fashioned email user) and what struck me as worrying was the availability of people's information in that environment. Through the people that I knew I could see many others, their photos and their "fun". Some photos I really didn't want to see!

Because people upload your photo and then 'tag' it you immediately become trace-able. There doesn't seem to be any privacy at all. Some students told me a story about a friend of theirs who missed out on a place at University as the final step was interview and the interviewers had been into Facebook and downloaded photos of this person drunk at a party... I've heard other stories about employers doing similar things. So, although we all do silly things, Facebook and MySpace have made it public and accessible.

I've added a YouTube link on the Blog today, it's from a show here in Canada called This hour has 22 Minutes. It portrays the risks in being on Facebook, MySpace and so on...
So even though I am PRO using technology as OT practitioners and in Higher Education, I believe that it is also up to us to stay very aware of the risks and only recommend using Social Networks like these when there are sufficient guards in place to protect the individual.

Cell/Mobile Phone with larger buttons

I found a great new program on the BBC called >Click . In this week's show there was a small story about the emporia Life mobile/cell phone.

It's easier for older adults to use as it has:

  • Large Buttons and Display
  • Super Loud speaker and Ringing volume
  • Emergency Function
  • Orange Backlight for people with sight problems
See Communic8 for details on this phone.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Middle-Aged Users' Declining Web Performance

Middle-Aged Users' Declining Web Performance Jakob Nielsen's alert
  • Between the ages of 25 and 60, people's ability to use websites declines by 0.8% per year — mostly because they spend more time per page, but also because of navigation difficulties.
Mainstream Aging vs. Senior Citizens
  • A typical senior at 75 is 40 years older than a typical mainstream user at 35, so 0.8% per year should correspond to only a 32% slow-down for seniors however for people aged over 60 aging accelerates drastically, and especially after 70 years.
  • Curves of cognitive, perceptual, and motor-skill decline have a hockey-stick shape.
  • So, the 0.8%/year slow-down is valid only for the mainstream period of 25–60 years of age. For older users, performance declines faster. After 65 years of age or so, differences in user needs are so drastic that we require explicit steps to cater to them.
  • This is why there are separate usability guidelines for making websites usable for seniors.
Two actions suggested:

Monday, March 31, 2008

Wiki research grant success!

We have been successful in our application for a teaching and learning enhancement fund project (TLEF) collaborating between OT, PT and S&LP programmes here at the University of Alberta.

The project is looking at students perceptions of developing a Wiki as a groupwork assignment and is an extension of work we were doing at Deakin University in Australia.

"Students’ perceptions of collaborating to create a Wiki, and the relationship between approach to task and learning style."

The project will run over the next 18 months and will hopefully give us some idea of how students find collaborating in virtual teams on a group project.

Thanks to those of you who helped get this to this stage, now for ethics... then the project proper!!!

Web 2.0 and Chronic Illness: New Horizons, New Opportunities

Thanks Cary Brown from the U of A OT department who sent me this article: "Web 2.0 and Chronic Illness: New Horizons, New Opportunities." Here's the link to the article.

The really nice thing is that it goes back to basics and explains what each type of Web 2.0 technology is and does and shows how each type of software can be useful in health care practice. It's a great basic reference.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

More on Personal Learning Environments

I'm becoming a bit confused about which Personal/Online Learning Environment is better and why. So, of course I "Googled it" (yes that is now a verb: To Google)and found this Blog which looked at Moodle, Drupal and elgg. As this Blog post is now almost 2 years old (gosh I'm behind!) I wonder what's the latest in comparing these applications? What other similar applications are there?

Are you using a personal or online learning environment to organize your virtual world and connect your communities? Which one(s) and why?

Using YouTube as an education tool

I happened across this link today while surfing the net for other information... (as you do). This is another great example of how web 2.0 tools can be used to get new information out there and rapid interaction around the topic. It's much faster than waiting to be published in a peer-reviewed journal and much easier than appealing to the mass media to run with a story.

Youtube is really changing what stories are being told and are also changing people's tv viewing habits! Many reports are showing that people are watching YouTube instead of the TV... this is happening in my house... the other night we sat for over an hour with our two kids and watched YouTube clips... we found out all about what's going on in their lives, what they think is important and worrying. With TV we don't even get "hello" tv is just a one way street! YouTube is changing its services in response to this demand, see this link for details.

YouTube could tell our OT story better... who is doing it now and who wants to get involved???

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

RJ Cooper and Associates Software and Hardware for Persons with Special Needs

Most OT's working in the area of AT have links to specialists like RJ Cooper and Associates, so this new link won't be news to them. It's interesting though that people who know me through other circles (like Technology specialists) seem to find these links too and send them to me! So thanks Michael Hotrum for this link and here's hoping that others find it beneficial too!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

AT+ICT+sharing knowledge=Enhanced OT

The link between Assistive Technology (ie: technology that enables the person to have a better fit with their environment) and ICT (information computer technology) means that OT (occupational therapy) can offer more options to people wanting increased independence, funtion or "connectivity" with the world. In this area OTs are overlapping with IT people, engineers, technolgy designers and so on... this is a growth area of specialty.

There are many students coming through OT education programs with highly developed skills and knowledge in ICT and can enhance OT's knowledge in this area. Joan G. one of our first year Masters in OT students at the UofA has skills and experience in this area and sent me these links today:
Assistive Technology Wiki

Assitive Technology Blog

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Why email is so old fashioned

Interesting to read about South Korea's move away from email... where are our students heading?

Copied from The Age Melbourne Australia
Michael Fitzpatrick, Guardian
February 28, 2008

Mobile texting is now outstripping the use of email among the young. Michael Fitzpatrick reports. The art of correspondence faces another rude shove towards oblivion: even email is under fire for being "too formal".
Outside of work, SMS and instant messaging are fast becoming the writing tools of choice. Indeed, South Korea - that crystal ball of all our digital future - has even seen a report that many teenagers have stopped using email altogether.

"It's for old people," they say.

A poll of more than 2000 middle, high school and college students, taken recently in Seoul, revealed that more than two-thirds rarely or never use email.
Korea's digital generation is way ahead of even the Japanese. Fifty per cent of South Koreans are signed up to their version of Facebook, called Cyworld, which took off almost a decade before other social networking sites around the world.

For most South Koreans, email is fit only for addressing the elderly, or for business and formal missives. Even those in their 30s, such as Dr Youngmi Kim, a professor at Edinburgh University, says she doesn't use it much when she is communicating with fellow Koreans.

"I use my Cyworld mini homepage to communicate among Korean close friends," she says. "(Cyworld) is faster and it can be used both for private and public use."

It's a global trend but more pronounced in South Korea, says Tomi Ahonen, a communications consultant and the co-author of a new book, Digital Korea. "Korean young adults put it so well. Email is simply outdated and not used between friends and colleagues. The only people you would use mobile email with are the older generation at work. Email? It's so '90s."
According to the poll, mobile texting, instant messaging and the perception that email is "a lot of bother" are all contributing to the end of the email era. Other factors, say the report, are the difficulty of ascertaining if an email has arrived and the lack of immediate response. One young Korean said that texting felt like a ping-pong game and that email was more "like doing homework".

Similar bugbears are driving email use down globally under the twin gods of ease and instant gratification, Ahonen says. "This phenomenon is not limited to South Korea. We are even seeing the first signs of it in the US - a country that is a leader in email and wireless email, and the laggard in mobile. "It started with the young abandoning email in favour of texting and since then the youth preference has spread and is now hitting the mainstream age groups."

It's an eye pod ... wink, wink

Copied from: March 4, 2008 - 8:24AM The Age Newspapger Melbourne, Australia.

An invention by Osaka University researcher Kazuhiro Taniguchi's will allow people to operate devices like digital music players with eye movements alone.
Don't read to much into someone winking at you in Japan - a researcher says he has developed a system that will soon let people run their iPods with the flick of an eye.

The system, comprising a single-chip computer and a couple of infrared sensors, monitors movements of the temple and is so tiny that it can be built into the side of a pair of eyeglasses.
Closing both eyes for one second starts an iPod, while blinking again stops the machine. A wink with the right eye makes the machine skip to the next tune while with a wink of the left eye it goes back. As a person does not have to move either hand, the system can serve as "a third hand" for caregivers, rock-climbers, motorbike drivers and astronauts, as well as people with disabilities.

"You don't have to worry about the system moving incorrectly as the system picks up signals when you close your eyes firmly. You can use this when you're eating or chatting with someone," said the device's developer, Kazuhiro Taniguchi.

"Normally you blink in an energy-saving manner, very quickly and lightly, but you would close your eyes more firmly to operate a device," he told AFP. "There are some people who are incapable of winking on one eye. For those, we can programme the system to give a command when they blink twice in a fast sequence," he said.

The Kome Kami Switch is also capable of operating television sets, air conditioners, room lighting and other household electronics. Taniguchi hopes the system can eventually be adapted to run cellphones, wheelchairs and robots as "an ultimate remote control" used in everyday life. A previous system using blinking to run devices had an obstructive sensor just in front of the user's eye, Taniguchi said.

The research team want to launch a venture in two to three years to commercialise the switch.
The new switch is a variation of a system, which Taniguchi is still working on, that operates when wearers clench their teeth.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


I've been introduced to VoiceThread by Susan Burwash here at the University of Alberta. This is an online media album that can hold essentially any type of media (images, documents and videos) and allows people to make comments in 5 different ways - using voice (with a microphone or telephone), text, audio file, or video (with a webcam) - and share them with anyone they wish. A VoiceThread allows group conversations to be collected and shared in one place, from anywhere in the world.

You could use voicethread as a teacher in Higher Ed OR as an OT working with kids, teens or adults to tell their stories, improve digital literacy, find an alternative to typing or to enhance the classroom experience.

Personal Learning Environments

I went to a workshop this week looking at Personal Learning Environments. The presenter, Michael Hotrum (who has worked with online learning guru Terry Anderson at the University of Athabasca) gave a compelling presentation about the usefulness of elgg in higher education and really, just about anywhere where you want to network with others.

Elgg is an open source social platform based around choice, flexibility and openness, placing you, the user, firmly at the centre of your social networking activities! You can incorporate all of your favourite tools (blogs, wikis, e-portfolios, tagging etc) within one environment and then showcase content with as many or as few people as you choose! You can link with or create multiple communities.

Naomi Augur at Deakin tells me that they selected Drupal instead as it was more reliable at the time they were making their IT decision... she reports that elgg is more reliable now.

I'm thinking that for me a great way to use this will be to link with all my interest areas from one place... ok, so what are these areas you ask?
  1. IT & Higher Ed (in particluar: using social software such as Wikis, Blogs and e-portfolios)
  2. Effective adult-learning approaches to curriculum and assessment design in higher education (understanding the importance of Constructivism, Transformative learning, Reflective Practice, Emotional intelligence...)
  3. IT & OT (using technology in rehab such as the Nintendo Wii, advancement in assistive technology through IT, tele-rehab)
  4. Occupational role change and adjustment (not just disability-issue related, but adjustment to any major life event such as becoming a parent, caring for a family member who is ill, becoming a University Student)
  5. Work related issues for people with a disability (particularly mental illness)
  6. Palliative care options/ growth of the role of OT from a health promotion stance

I think I've just convinced myself that I need a space to pull these apparently unrelated links together so that I can reduce overlap and enahnce potential connections. I'm going to give it a go and see if it helps me feel more cyber-centered!

My slideshare uploads