WebCT in occupational therapy clinical education: Implementing and evaluating a tool for peer learning and interaction

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As occupational therapy expands into new practice arenas such as wellness, driver rehabilitation and ergonomics, educators are challenged to revise the curriculum as well as change educational technology. One of the changes in occupational therapy educational programmes is the utilization of on-line teaching. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the learning experiences of 42 occupational therapy students who were involved in a virtual learning environment during their six-week fieldwork placement. The results indicated that the majority of students enjoyed participating in this web-based learning environment (WebCT). A vast array of themes emerged from the on-line discussion and these themes reflected different levels of learning. Participation in WebCT during fieldwork appears to have a beneficial effect on student learning and achievement of stage 1 learning objectives by supporting students in peer learning. Other benefits include improving student autonomy during fieldwork, supporting self-directed learning and stimulating higher order thinking. Although the results of this study were positive there is still a need to further evaluate the effectiveness of web-based learning as an alternative to traditional educational methods during fieldwork education.

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