In Beta is a virtual community of physiotherapy educators who experiment with different approaches to teaching and learning, make podcasts, publish a newsletter, share project ideas and arrange Unconferences. In Beta’s name reflects the fact that we are always in a testing phase with our teaching. Always looking for the problems in the old code and how to improve for the next iteration. The period of disruption resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic has been challenging and uncomfortable for physiotherapy programmes who have undertaken an unprecedented paradigm shift to online and distance delivery of education. But disruption also provides a unique opportunity for change. Going back to business as usual after Covid-19 might not be possible, and even if it is possible, does that mean it is desirable?
An Unconference is a perfect space to pause, to unpick, understand and share our learning and experiences in order to improve what we do next. It is a participant-led event, in which everyone learns from each other. There are no key note speakers or powerpoint slides. Instead everyone has a shared responsibility for creating an engaging learning environment. We are planning a range of activities that will get participants to think, reflect and discuss how physio education might continue to evolve and develop from the disruption of Covid-19. Part of the Unconference aim is to experiment with approaches that we could use in our own blended teaching. With this in mind, the different activity streams that we have planned have a mixture of online and offline activities based on the principle that everyone who joins the unconference is an active learner contributing to a shared process. We are really keen that participation is not a passive process of being sat in front of a screen all day and are planning activities which will take you away from the desk and outside whilst you think and reflect. Having a range of synchronous and asynchronous activities also means that you could choose to engage with lots of them across the two days, or to fit a smaller number of activities in around other commitments.
PT Lecturer University of Birmingham
Ben Ellis is the co-founder of In Beta. He likes to think and talk about physiotherapy education, which is lucky as his day job is a lecturer in physiotherapy at the University of Birmingham
The great strength of an Unconference is that topics are proposed and voted on by the participants and so we are confident that there will be activities and conversations of interest to everyone. Alongside the streams decided by participant vote, this year’s Unconference will feature a dedicated stream on environmental physiotherapy education, broadly opening for questions and ideas about teaching planetary health, sustainable healthcare and development, the Environmental Physiotherapy Agenda 2023 and other related themes. Given the socio-ecological root causes of our current pandemic, these topics are of the utmost importance to future physiotherapy education, so we hope for lots of ideas, inspiration, and collaboration to envision new ways forward.
The In Beta Unconference 2020 is free to attend and will run online over 2 days on 14th and 15th September. You can find more details about the Unconference and register your interest at: https://inbeta.uwc.ac.za/unconference/.
More information about the specific streams and activities and how to join each one will be released shortly. Academics, clinicians and students with an interest in any aspect of physiotherapy education are all welcome to join.