Oh, how COVID has changed and interrupted the way we work, yet has opened new opportunities to teach globally...
Last week, I conducted five workshops to a group of UniSA Occupational Therapy students via Zoom. It wasn’t the first workshop I had conducted over a teleconferencing platform this year. The other was with Speech Therapy Masters students.
For the past decade, I have been working with UniSA providing AAC workshops to OT students. This has traditionally involved a week of four to six classroom-based workshops and a component of a skill demonstration exam, which included the students needing to demonstrate they could use the communication strategies they learned in communicating with me. The exam demonstration element was cut several years ago, probably because it was deemed too stressful for the students. The workshop also has changed over the years, as a result of continually reviewing the content.
COVID has also forced change to the workshop, requiring it to be conducted via teleconferencing. My co-lecturer and I had to quickly redesign the content to match the online delivery method. The new format had the students viewing, prior to the online session, a 40-minute video I produced, introducing them to the basics of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). The 90-minute sessions provided the students an opportunity to respond to the video via questions and a discussion, provided the participants key tips for communication with someone who has a communication disability and then students were encouraged to take part in an exercise allowing them to practice these skills.
After the success of these online sessions, I am planning to further develop the workshop, making it available to other training providers and universities across Australia and globally.