Technology provides creative outlets for OTA students
When Teri Gergen searched for a doctoral program, she wanted one that would apply directly to the classroom.
She chose Nova Southeastern University’s instructional technology and distance education program, and the result of that decision is one great experience after another for her students.
“Instructional technology fascinated me,” she said. “I love creating things. I think students enjoy creating, and I think they learn better when they have to create.”
The projects created by Gergen’s occupational therapy assistant students are fascinating. They film videos explaining occupational therapy. They use Glogster to develop visually attractive treatments plans. They search the Apple App Store to find apps that could be used in therapy for children. They create their own websites using Weebly.
Gergen tries any technology tool she assigns to her students to make sure she can answer students’ questions and troubleshoot any setbacks. Still, a new technology sometimes frustrates students. Gergen uses frustration as a teachable moment by reminding students that the anxiety they feel is the same frustration a therapy patient feels when learning a new way of completing everyday tasks.
“My philosophy is that any experience can be an experience that we can learn from,” Gergen said.
While Gergen’s students create plenty of cool projects — you can see examples here — each assignment has specific learning objectives.
“Whatever I do, I want it to meet the learning objectives for the students,” Gergen said. “It’s not about the coolness of the technology. It’s about does the technology support the learning outcomes? When people hear the world technology, they think digital. But technology is low-tech too. Technology is any tool that is used to support learning.”
Gergen recommends that educators “begin with the end in mind” when thinking about how to incorporate technology into their classrooms.
“Don’t look at a tool and say ‘I want to use this tool,’” Gergen said. “Think about what you want to accomplish and then find the tool that fits.”