Physiotalk: Connectedness and constructive change – An explanatory theory
Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is mandatory for UK physiotherapists and valued internationally. In an increasingly digital age social media may provide a source of up–to-date knowledge and professional development. This study aims to explore impacts of taking part in Physiotalk tweetchats on CPD and professional practice, from participants’ perspectives.
Stage 1 involved an online semi-structured focus group through a #physiotalk tweetchat. Questions addressed meaning and use of Physiotalk, influences on participation, and impacts on CPD and practice. Stage 2 enabled people to respond more fully through email or direct messages. Thematic analysis of tweets was undertaken.
683 tweets were sent during 75 minutes of discussion between 73 tweeting participants. The tweet analysis resulted in themes that described a tweetchat as enabling social media skill development and engagement, facilitating ring-fenced time and structured interactions. Participants felt that chats focused on topics relevant to practice and generated a supportive, non-hierarchical international community. Participants reported that this virtual environment enabled constructive change at an individual level, such as increased confidence, broadening views and engagement with research and evidence.
The results of this Twitter focus group demonstrate that where people feel facilitated and welcomed in an online discussion forum, there is great potential for constructive change at many levels. This is, but also goes beyond, CPD for participants. Tweetchats can be promoted as a valid and freely available form of CPD, enabling international viewpoints to be shared. Networks and collaborations formed through these chats can lead to wider constructive change in practice and within the profession.
SummaryThe benefits of tweetchats as a professional development tool should be explored by more individuals and organisations seeking skills development, as well as those trying to overcome barriers to social media engagement by students and qualified professionals
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