Undergraduate Physiotherapy Students' Choice and Use of Technology in Undertaking Collaborative Presentations

Thornton, Heather Amanda (2009). Undergraduate Physiotherapy Students' Choice and Use of Technology in Undertaking Collaborative Presentations. EdD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000ed2b


This case study explored students' preferences and use of technology for collaborative learning. The participants were third year physiotherapy undergraduate students working in small groups to produce a weekly seminar presentation (n=86). The main study was carried out in 2007/8. The groups were organised based on students' expressed preference for using technology. Data collection tools were interviews, questionnaires, observation and analysis of online natural trails. Ethical approval was granted by HPMEC in 2006. Students' choice of technology related to past experience, efficiency, quality of interaction, inclusivity and they used the technology online provided by the university rather than open source. They highly valued the specialised collaborative classroom that included computers and data projectors that enabled a group to visualise their output and connect to their online group sites. They used the online environment (the University's MLE) largely as a repository, 'offloading' some of the organisational components of collaboration and for knowledge acquisition, using the face-to-face meetings for interaction and co-construction. They used asynchronous discussion facilities for basic administration. Students wanted their education and social technologies e.g. Facebook kept separate. What differed in the groups was the level of face-to-face interaction to undertake the task collaboratively, as opposed to sub-dividing the task and working more cooperatively. The students were committed to collaborative working, but were focussed on face-to-face for co-construction of knowledge, which may relate to the professional culture and programme design. This study has implications for the introduction of technologies into health courses. Students need formative experience in other online technologies so that graduates can participate effectively in continuing professional activities. This needs to be introduced in an authentic situation such as when students are on placement and unable to meet face-to-face. Further research into what technologies may support collaborative learning for health students.

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