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!