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ADVANCE Perspective: Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine

CSM 2012: Guide On The Side

Published February 13, 2012 9:12 AM by Danielle Bullen

Each year, one of the highlights of the Combined Sections Meeting is the Pauline Cerasoli lecture. Named in honor of longtime APTA member Cerasoli, who was brutally attacked at a past CSM, and funded by her family, the lecture is given by a speaker who distinguishes him or herself as an articulate, sensitive and caring individual. This year, that honor went to Christine Baker, PT, EdD, physical therapy faculty at the University of Texas Medical Branch. In his remarks introducing Dr. Baker, the president of the APTA Scott Ward said, "Dr. Christine Baker exemplifies the qualities required for the Cerasoli lectureship.

In a talk called "Googling, Texting and Browsing, Oh My!" Dr. Baker traced the evolution of technology as a teaching tool, highlighting the benefits and the challenges presented by technology in educational environments. She had the audience laughing as she reminisced about her early years teaching. "I wrote assessments by hand; I communicated through desk phone; I showed VHS tapes in the classroom."

The challenge for today's physical therapy instructors is that their students are digital natives, never having known a world without certain kinds of technology.  Professors, like Dr. Baker, are digital immigrants, self-taught, and must learn to adapt to ever-changing technology.  Dr. Baker went through some of the contemporary ways technology can be incorporated into the physical therapy classrooms, such as distance courses, web-based interactive tutorials, blogs, audience response trackers (clickers), computerized exams, and podcasts. "There is no doubt these creative uses of technology are exciting to students."

This new technology changes the role of the physical therapy instructor. As Dr. Baker explained, "We're no longer the sage on the stage. We are the guide on the side." Today's students must be more self-motivated, have better time-management and of course, be more comfortable with all these new modes of learning, than their counterparts 20 years ago. In studies, students perceived that they learned more when they interacted in online course discussions. While chat boards are a good way to get students who would not speak up in class to share their thoughts, there's no evidence to back up that claim.

But it's obvious that technology in the PT classroom is not going anywhere. That goes for both students and professors. Today, Dr. Baker posts grades online. She screens YouTube clips in class. She monitors discussion boards while at a conference. "As we reflect on all the changes in our profession so far," noted Dr. Baker, "it's mind-boggling to think of what lies ahead."

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