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Strong communities of occupational therapists to develop informal teaching and learning online

Zoe Parker, Education Manager for lifelong learning, talks about how to get the best from the digital age.

In an earlier blog post, Shelagh talked about social media being a bit like Marmite in that people have strong feelings about it one way or the other. I don’t happen to have strong feelings about Marmite – take it or leave it I say! It’s useful in small quantities to add flavour to a bland dish or spread very thinly to liven up toast made with uninteresting bread. I don’t have a particular axe to grind regarding social media either and I am certainly not about to become an addict. Nothing can replace the joy of meeting up face to face and having a real conversation.

However, I did reflect, before I used it myself, that the most vocal opponents of social media were those who stood to lose out to it: namely, print media. I think it’s a complex question because of course there’s the issue of online bullying and trolling and the fact that it’s often used as a commercial communication channel or to promote celebrity culture, rampant individualism bordering on narcissism or trivia. In the end social media is just another way of publishing and I do think people need to think of it like that and be careful to think before you react and check that what you want to say is appropriate and that you would wish to share widely. Even deleting doesn’t really work and once it’s out there it’s pretty much irretrievably out there.

I think it’s useful to focus on social media for social learning and to see it mainly as another way of communicating and even a way to build communities of practice – this would be my dream that strong communities of occupational therapists informally teaching and learning from each other continue to develop online just as they have face to face.

We have the OT4 groups on Facebook:  the original one was online technology for OT OT4OT now there are others based around specific areas of practice and they are lively places for international OT discussions.

If you didn’t manage to attend the ‘only conference you can attend in your pyjamas’  – the global virtual exchange which ran in November, you could still find the sessions archived and accessible for about six months.

This is one of the beauties of the digital age – there are so many wonderful open-access free to view resources out there to promote reflection and to provide a critical perspective different from your own viewpoint. You can use them to identify and challenge your assumptions about practice and the profession.

I hope that you will share your favourite links and ideas in the comments below and in our forthcoming tweetchat based on the theme: “OTs sharing and learning together online”.

Date of last Twitter chat: Thursday 4 December 2014 at noon.
Missed the chat? Don’t worry, you can follow it on storify.


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