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Table 3 Main aspects of the studies (n = 14) investigating perceptions of students/users on technology in physiotherapy learning and teaching

From: Online technology use in physiotherapy teaching and learning: a systematic review of effectiveness and users’ perceptions

Study credentials Country Design Participants Intervention technology used, Theme/course, Length of the intervention Outcome measures (tool/method) Key findings Quality
Arroyo-Morales, 2012 [23] Spain RCT 46 (28f) UG, 2nd Website; ‘Fundamentals of Physiotherapy’; 3 weeks Perceptions on the quality of the educational environment (1–5 Likert) Exp group scored higher on 3/10 items: ‘classes were entertaining’ , ‘I was able to learn a lot’ , ‘I was able to apply what I learned’; Con group scored higher on willingness to learn another anatomical region. Exp group reported high levels of satisfaction with the website. 83
Cantarero-Villanueva, 2012 [24] Spain RCT 50 (29f) UG Website; ' Fundamentals of Physiotherapy': palpation and ultrasound; 2 modules Students perceptions of quality of educational method (5-point Likert survey) No differences between groups in participants’ evaluation of the quality of learning. 83
Hayward, 2004 [41] USA CS 57 PG,5th Virtual learning environment: chat, discussion board; ‘Research for Physical Therapists’; 12-week course Experiences and perceived learning (discussion board and chat room transcripts, reflective papers) Discussion boards were deepening thinking and ability to critically examine a topic, also gave participants multiple perspectives. Technology was perceived as beneficial for improving self-directed learning strategies. Barriers included problems with access to the internet or computer, and preference for face-to-face contact. 100
Jones, 2010 [26] Canada, Hong Kong RCT, TG Canada: 35, Hong, Kong:37 Video link, web-based tutorials; Two topics: oxygen transport, manual hyperinflation (cardiovascular and cardiopulmonary physiotherapy); 3 weeks Students evaluation of learning experience Video link group valued learning from international peers. 67
Ladyshew-sky, 2008 [42] Australia CS 32 UG, 4th Blogging; Clinical placements; 15 weeks Perceptions of learning experience and support for reflective practice Students liked simplicity, non-threatening environment, informality, accessibility and convenience of blogging; they enjoyed learning from each other. Blogging required reflection, processing of thoughts and structuring them; let for building the trust in the group. Perceived barriers included: technical issues, too small groups, lack of example blogs. 67
Low, 2008 [30] USA CT 81 PG Virtual learning environment (VLE): chat, threaded discussion, bulletin board, e-diary; clinical internship; 6 or 12 weeks Communication with classmates and perceived effectiveness of program (survey) VLE: let for communication, was easy to use; e-diary: beneficial source of reflection. Technology was supportive for students while off campus. 100
Maloney, 2013 [38] Australia CS 18 UG, 4th Digital repository; placements; semester Attitudes (focus groups) Online resources convenient and useable; could support physiotherapy practice in workplace; may be an effective tool for life-long learning. 85
Moore, 2012 [37] USA RCT 33 DPT, 1st Video podcasts; Basic clinical skills course: transfer and 3 weeks Perceptions of use of both learning methods (survey with 1–5 Likert scales) Podcasting appeared to be a reasonable alternative to in-class demonstrations for teaching basic transfer and gait training skills. 67
Peacock, 2007 [39] UK CS, TG 49 UG, 10 PG Digital repository, discussion board; psychology (UG), paediatric (PG);1 semester Perceptions, expectations, views (students, tutors focus groups and interviews) Discussions provided peer-support and encouraged engagement with learning materials. Issues such as access, induction, IT skills need, and time requirement, have to be addressed before e-learning will offer ‘another dimension’ to lifelong learning. 100
Pittenger, 2012 [35] USA CS 50 DPT,2nd Collaborative wikis; 'Rehabilitation Pharmacotherapy'; 1 semester Previous experience with online learning (survey), Wikis were successful in learning pharmacotherapy. Writing was helpful and difficult, complexity of the course form allowed for pharmacotherapy application in physiotherapy context. 77
perceived effectiveness and feasibility of the course form (survey, focus groups);
professional identity development (reflection assignment, focus groups)
Preston, 2012 [27] Australia CT Exp: online teaching additional to usual teaching, Con: usual teaching; 59 UG,2nd Digital repository; Neurological physiotherapy; 5-weeks + revision session Perceived usefulness of the resource (survey with VAS + comments) Resource useful, handy, great visual tool and reminder of what was learnt in class. 100
Salbach, 2011 [43] Canada CS 23 PR Personal digital assistant; Neurophysiotherapy; one off Preferences for strategies to increase access to, implementation and application of research findings into clinical practice (in depth telephone interviews) Advantages of PDA: quick and timely access to information, integration of information, sharing. Concerns: PDA may not be available in workplace, requirement to wear it, patient perception on technology use during a visit, high cost, training how to use it required. 83
Thomas, 2011 [40] USA CS 25 + 30 DPT,2st Website; ‘Human gross anatomy’; 10 weeks Perceptions (pre-, post-questionnaire Likert scale 1–5) Students benefited from multimodal approach to learning. 83
Wait, 2009 [44] USA CS 28 DPT,1st Audience response system (ARS); ‘Anatomy for Physical Therapists’; 16 weeks Perceptions (Likert 1–5 + open ended questions) ARS permitted for self-assessment and comparison of the performance with others; the immediacy of ARS feedback enhanced students' confidence to actively participate in subsequent small group discussions. 77
  1. RCT randomised controlled trial, CT clinical trial, CS case study, TG two group design, UG undergraduate programme, DPT doctor of physical therapy programme, PG postgraduate programme, PR physiotherapy professionals, f female, 2nd second year students, 3rd third year students, 4th fourth year students, 5th fifth year students, VLE virtual learning environment, PDA personal digital assistant, ARS audio response system