Background [Briefdetails of institution, typeof learners and learningenvironment in which theactivity/ies took place]The Department of Physiotherapy at the University of the Western Cape is a four year professional undergraduate degree programme. This study took place among the 2nd year students, in the Applied Physiotherapy module (PHT203). PHT203 covers common health-related conditions that patients present with, and which the students are expected to manage in their 3rd year while on clinical placements. There were 60 students in the class, from a range of socio-economic backgrounds, levels of technological literacy, and age groups.
The institution was in the process of implementing graduate attributes across all of their modules, which included developing positive attitudes towards lifelong learning, critical approaches to knowledge and the ability to engage with the world as individuals as well as in groups. In addition, the physiotherapy department was evaluating teaching and learning practices, and was interested in implementing case-based learning as a strategy. We wanted our students to engage more effectively with the content of the PHT203 module, aiming for deeper understanding, rather than simply memorising as much of it as possible. Finally, the departmental Teaching and Learning Implementation Plan, aligned with the Institutional Operational Plan, called for the development of educational spaces that integrated technology to enhance student learning.
Feedback from external examiners and clinical supervisors over the past few years suggested that our 3rd and 4th year students demonstrated a worrying lack of critical thinking while on their clinical rotations. Students also typically tried to memorise approaches to patient management, rather than attempting to solve problems based on the patient’s unique clinical presentation. We were also aware of low levels of technological literacy among our students, and wanted to integrate the development of digital literacy skills into the programme, rather than view it as another “subject” to be taught.
Previously, the content of the PHT203 module was split into four categories (Orthopaedics, Neurology, Paediatrics and Respiratory), with a different lecturer responsible for teaching each category. Students also went on clinical rotations within the contexts of these categories. Course readers with all of the relevant content were given to students at the beginning of the module, negating any reason for them to actively work with the content. The module was taught mainly using lectures, which were useful in terms of conveying large volumes of content to students, but poor at encouraging students to develop any of the attitudes and critical approaches to professional knowledge. We modified the module by breaking down the categories, which were inadequate representations of the real world (i.e. patients very rarely present with a single complaint), and combined commonly associated conditions into single cases. For example, students would work through a case of a patient with a neurological, orthopaedic and respiratory problem. No course readers were given to the students, who were responsible for developing their own notes.
We used the characteristics of authentic learning tasks to develop the cases, as well as the online and physical classroom learning spaces. Using Google Drive, students were able to collaboratively develop their own case notes as they worked through the cases. We changed the rules banning mobile devices in the classroom, going so far as to install another wireless router in the department to ensure that students had internet access anywhere they were working. Laptops, tablets and mobile phones were encouraged in the classroom, so that students could conduct research as they worked to answer questions that they generated themselves. Facilitators (we moved from having one “lecturer”, to eight “facilitators” present at any one time) moved between groups in the classroom, guiding students through the cases, as well as provided comments, suggestions and questions online in Google Drive. Students also summarised their weekly notes as case presentations, also in Google Drive, which were then shared with everyone in the class. Both students and facilitators could access the collective notes and summaries of all students, from anywhere with an internet connection. We also used Google Drive to create shared “feedback” documents, where students could give us comments and suggestions on what was working and what could be improved. We would then report back to them at regular intervals, describing what had been changed and what would remain the same, giving reasons behind our decisions. Finally, we used the Forms component of Google Drive to survey the students more formally. While we did consider the use of Forms to create online assessment tasks, we were unable to book a computer lab that could take all 60 students at once.
In order to develop critical thinking skills, you must actually create learning tasks that require students to think criticallyThe most effective use of technology was in creating alternative spaces for enhanced communication among facilitators and studentsTechnology is also great for moving content out of the classroom, creating space for discussion and engagementDon’t make assumptions about students’ ability to use technology for learning - just because they’re on Facebook, doesn’t mean they know how to use online spaces as part of their learning practicesIntegrated case-based learning (online and physical spaces) is way more intensive and time consuming than lectures, requires more input and preparation, and Students (and colleagues) will initially resist the change, but will change their point of view as the benefits of the approach become apparentBy giving the students more control over their own learning, facilitators must also be open to being challenged, and should be confident enough to encourage this from the students
Integrating online and physical spaces is a powerful way to encourage students to think of learning as something that happens anywhere, and at any time. When incorporated with a case-based approach to learning, we found that communication between students and staff members, changed, with students taking more and more control over their learning. They developed critical attitudes towards themselves and their role in their own learning, as well as towards authority figures.
Google Drive is an online collaborative working space for documents, spreadsheets, presentations, drawing and forms. It enables real-time collaboration, as well as document versioning, highlighting and annotation, offline access and enhanced editing features. While Google Drive (indeed, any collaborative editing platform) is not new, we believe that we have used it in an innovative way that challenges current thinking around teaching and learning practices that aim to develop critical thinking in healthcare students.
1. A case study of Google Drive Michael Rowe Vivienne Bozalek University of the Western Cape
2. Background• UWC Physio Dept• Second year Applied Physio module – health related conditions• 60 diverse students
3. Intended outcomes• Graduate attributes – lifelong learning, critical approaches to knowledge• Collaborative learning• TEL
4. Challenge• lack of critical thinking – externals and supervisor reports• Memorising• Low digital literacy
5. Established practice• Orthopaedics, Neurology, Paediatrics and Respiratory previously• Different lecturers giving lectures• Course reader• Inadequate representations of real world• Changed this to a case, collaborative learning and no course readers
6. Impact/Affordances of ETs• Authentic learning task• Online and physical spaces• Google Drive collaborative case notes• Installed wireless router• Bring your own device (BYOD)• Facilitators• Students summarised notes and shared• Access from anywhere• Feedback on what was working• Google forms for evaluation
7. Key points for effective practice• Create tasks for critical thinking• TEL – collaborative and alternative geographically dispersed spaces• Don’t assume about digital literacy for learning
8. Conclusions and recommendations• Online and physical allows anytime anywhere• Communication changed• Students took more and more responsibility for learning• Developed critical attitudes
9. Description of tool• Google Drive good for collaboration no docs, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings and forms• Real time and asynchronous collaboration• Highlighting, commenting and editing
10. Additional information• If you would like to know more about this project, please contact the author at email@example.com