I’ve just finished a piece for the PNZ newsletter on some new ways of thinking in education and how they might affect physiotherapy education. If you fancy a read, I’d appreciate any feedback.
Digital media and the future of physiotherapy knowledge
In 1534, at the age of 51, Martin Luther translated the bible from Latin – a language that few outside the priesthood could understand – into a form that could be read by the common people. Thus began the Protestant Reformation and more than four centuries of schism between the Protestant and Catholic churches. None of this would have been possible had it not been for Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press, which made the wide distribution of knowledge possible on a scale never seen before. Today we sit on the cusp of a new technological revolution that is as radical as the invention of the printed book, and it will have a profound effect not only on how generations come to learn, but also what comes to constitute knowledge.
When the printed book was developed, it made it possible to present extended, linear arguments to people. Libraries were formed to house these treaties and universities were established where knowledge was debated, tested and verified. It became possible to imprint singular truths into the minds of people all over the world because books were portable, and this greatly solidified the sciences of geometry and medicine, law and theology which became ‘common knowledge.’
What today’s digital technologies do that is so profoundly different is that they make communication between people instantaneous. They make the near-immediate collaboration between people a possibility, and mass storage makes it possible to access a myriad competing viewpoints at the click of a mouse. Traditional forms of knowledge expression are too linear, too static, too dogmatic. New digital media are liquid, transient, and less dependent on the ossified wisdom of experts.
Children born after 1980 are comfortable with digital technology to a degree that could not have been imagined even 30 years ago. Facebook, Twitter, iPhones and iPads are ubiquitous, and to ‘Google’ something has added a new verb to our vocabulary. All of this has been made possible by the development of cheap, mass-produced digital technology. But how is this affecting physiotherapy?
At AUT, we have a new undergraduate curriculum and a large part of that curriculum has been developed to enable the students to anticipate what their practice may be like in 2020 and beyond. Clearly, much of their experience of health and illness will be influenced by technology – not only in the sense that students will likely use their mobile devices as an integral part of their patient care, but also because they will use the medium to facilitate new ways of learning, thinking and being.
Those of you who know of the work of people like George Siemens and Michael Wesch will know that notions of connectivism, blended learning, bring-your-own-device (BYOD) approaches, and ‘prosumers’ (students who are producers and consumers of learning), are becoming commonplace in higher education, and will significantly affect whether the things we taught yesterday are the things our students engage with tomorrow. There is a revolution going on in education, and it is coming to a school near you soon!