Can we effectively teach postgraduate physiotherapists online?
Can we effectively teach postgraduate physiotherapists online? Laakso L and Tuttle N, School of Physiotherapy and Exercise Science, Griffith University, Gold Coast In response to work-life imbalance, financial and demographic factors, modern education has seen the development of distance education tools including podcasts, vodcasts, web-conferencing and electronic access to the literature. For physiotherapists such advances coincide with increasing pressures in our living environment - blurring of professional lines; changes in the profession's structure and competitive environment; less public funding for tertiary education and health, and greater self-funding of all forms of education. In the light of these factors, what is our vision for postgraduate, discipline-specific education? Specifically, is it reasonable to expect our future specialists in fields such as sports or musculoskeletal physiotherapy either to be absent from the workforce for extended periods to study full time or possibly be obliged to live away from home to study part time? We will use an example of an Australian postgraduate physiotherapy program (combining both musculoskeletal and sports physiotherapy) utilising intensive on-campus blocks and flexible delivery modes to consider an alternative structure and present some early insights. In self-reflection questionnaires, we surveyed a range of indicators including perceptions of online education and competency development. We found that at the outset of the program whilst students agreed that electronic media can be useful tools for learning physiotherapy, students were not all agreed that an online course was an effective method for learning the principles of patient assessment and treatment. The results will demonstrate that this notion evolves with time and fluctuates with the multi-dimensional nature of not only postgraduate education but also flexible learning.
Achieving the Vision