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Reducing the Autogenic Inhibition Reflex: Making Weak Muscles Strong
The autogenic inhibition (AI) reflex is a sudden relaxation of a muscle in response to excess tension.
We Get Letters & Email
A House Divided? (May 1 issue) provoked significant response from readers. Here are several of the surprisingly similar comments we received.
First Do No Harm?
There's no questioning the frightening nature of breast cancer, which strikes one in eight women in the U.S. – eclipsed only by skin cancer in terms of prevalence.
The Modern Acupuncturist
You studied ancient Chinese medicine, but I'll bet you don't practice it! Contrary to popular belief, our medicine has evolved A LOT over the years. Let's take a brief walk through history and discover the differences between ancient and modern acupuncturists.
Green Tea Improves Cognitive Function in Elderly Subjects
Publishing their results in the journal Nutrients in May 2014, researchers showed that drinking the equivalent of 2-4 cups of brewed green tea (or bottled tea) daily improved cognitive function or reduced the progression of cognitive dysfunction in elderly subjects.
Professional Credentialing and Board Certification: An Ethical Faux Pas
Because of the Affordable Care Act, health care systems are coordinating care through accountable care organizations (ACOs) in order to reduce the cost of care and improve quality of care.
What Does Success Mean to You?
Recently, I was asked to speak to young, budding businesswomen about running a successful business — and at first I thought, "Me? You want me to speak to others about success?!"
Acupuncture in the U.K. Today: A Personal View
When asked to write a short piece on the current state of the U.K. acupuncture profession, my first response was to say it has all been relatively quiet.
Spieth Thanks His Chiropractor After Historic Masters Win
Jordan Spieth didn't just capture the hearts of golf enthusiasts worldwide with his record-setting, wire-to-wire victory at the 79th Masters Tournament.
Calculating Billable Units
I recently learned of an office that was audited based on the number of acupuncture sessions performed in one day. Is there a maximum number of sessions that can be performed in one day?
Giving Vets the Care They Deserve
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) administers the largest integrated health care system in the United States.
Breath: The Movement of Oxygen and Energy
I remember with surprising clarity the first time a patient started crying during an acupuncture treatment I was giving. This is now quite a long time ago, back in 1999, when I was a student.
Rethinking Musculoskeletal Pain – A Public Health Perspective
The American Public Health Association (APHA) is the world's oldest and largest association of its kind, founded more than 140 years ago and boasting over 25,000 members.
How One Little Symbol (#) Gets You More Patients
Are you struggling to get more fans or followers for your acupuncture practice? Or are looking for ways to simply connect with your patients? Or do you just want to know how to keep them engaged (comments, retweeting, liking and sharing)?
The Source-Luo Point Combination
The luo collaterals are part of the acupuncture channel system presented in the Su Wen and the Ling Shu (The Nei Jing). The function and clinical application of the luo mai are primarily presented in chapter 10 of the Ling Shu, however, they are also found in others chapters in the Su Wen and the Ling Shu.
ACA or ICA: Which Best Represents You?
Last June, I was honored to represent Texas ICA members as their representative assemblyman at the ICA Annual Meeting in Kansas City.
The Year to Make Things Happen
It is hard to believe that the Year of the Ram – 2015 is half over. Time seems to be moving especially fast. This is the year for things to happen for the acupuncture profession.
Acupuncture and the Pulse
In 1991, I attended a martial arts workshop hosted coincidentally by Sung Baek, a martial artist and the head of his lineage as a Korean trained acupuncturist. I was enamored by the details Sung could attain from the pulse, as told to me by some of his apprentices.
Green Tea Improves Cognitive Function in Elderly Subjects
Publishing their results in the journal Nutrients, in May 2014, researchers showed that drinking the equivalent of 2 to 4 cups of brewed green tea (or bottled tea) daily improved cognitive function or reduced the progression of cognitive dysfunction in elderly subjects.
The Nectar of Plants: Essential Oils and Chinese Medicine
Essential oils are a very hot topic these days, especially with the likes of the Ebola virus and the resurgence of measles lurking in our awareness, but when I first became interested in Chinese medicine, essential oils weren't on the radar screen for acupuncturists.
Leg-Length Inequality and Pelvic Fixation: A New Approach to the Negative Derifield (Part 2)
As we noted in our previous article, with a positive Derifield (+D), the doctor observes the reactive (shorter) leg in the prone position that becomes longer or "crosses over" in the flexed position.
A Poor Choice for Pain Relief
Acetaminophen is the most popular pain reliever in the U.S., accounting for an estimated 27 billion annual doses as of 2009. With 100,000-plus hospital visits a year by users, it's also the most likely to be taken inappropriately.
Our Biggest Challenges to Compete in Wellness Care
In the first article in this four-article series [May 1 DC], I made the case that chiropractors should either embrace offering lifestyle wellness in their practices or face the possibility of losing their place in the wellness care marketplace.
TMF 2015 Scholarships
The Trudy McAlister Foundation (TMF), a nonprofit organization established to support students who are on track to make contributions either to clinical practice and/or to the understanding of the role of Traditional Oriental Medicine, has announced the 2015 scholarship recipients.
Use Technology to Gain New Patients and Improve Efficiency
From the smartphone in your pocket to your microwave oven, advancements in technology have made almost every aspect of our lives easier.
January, 2014, Vol. 14, Issue 01
The Myths and Realities of Online Education
By Whitney Lowe, LMT
Over the last 100 years, a number of technological innovations took place which forecasters predicted would radically shake up the education world. First it was radio, then television, then videotape recording.In each instance, a revolution of the education environment never materialized. Now, many of the same things are being said about online education and its potential to radically transform learning. But this time things are very different. We are witnessing the rapid emergence of what business visionary Clayton Christiansen refers to as a disruptive innovation, a change that fundamentally alters the way things have been done in the past.1
Online education doesn't merely have the potential to - it already is - fundamentally changing education. The massage therapy profession is experiencing the effects of this change, particularly in programs associated with higher education institutions. However, primary obstacles to greater integration of online education exist at both entry-level and in continuing education in the profession. These revolve around fundamental myths and misunderstandings about online education.
"I'm really more of a kinesthetic or hands-on learner, so online education is not for me." Current research shows the theoretical models of "dominant learning styles" such as the "visual," "auditory" or "kinesthetic" are unfounded. We, in fact, learn through each of these three channels, they are integrated. What is far more important is the quality and type of instructional design and whether it is appropriate for the learning activity being used.
Massage technique emphasizes physical skills; the individual is learning to use their hands as tools. Thus, performing the actual techniques with supervision of an instructor is paramount in entry-level education. However, instructor presence may not always be imperative. For example, in continuing education, when a professional has experience and a degree of skill, they can often learn a technique through a well-designed video clip. In fact, they might be able to see the instructor better in a video than in a workshop full of a large number of people. There are many instances when a person could learn technique-oriented content through a distance learning strategy.
This myth assumes that all massage education is about hands-on activity, or at least that is what is most important. Yet, there is a vast amount of knowledge about how, when, why and where to use these methods appropriately and effectively that does not involve manual, but cognitive learning. (The tool is only as good as the knowledge of the tool user.)
There is nothing uniquely kinesthetic about sitting in a chair and listening to someone lecture. Yet, this is common in classroom environments (and admittedly many online classes as well). The fact that you're in the physical presence of others does not necessarily improve the educational experience. If you are only learning a technique, then it can make sense to be there in person (if, in fact, you have a good view, the class is small enough and you are actually learning something).
Other course work can be very effectively delivered online with high-quality course construction. I have found that those who claim to prefer a "hands-on" type of experience often thrive in my online courses since the courses are interactive, visual in the sense that they are full of multimedia learning elements and they engage the student. A really good online course is designed so that it is dynamic, active, engaging and interactive.
"Online learning is impersonal and I prefer to work directly with an instructor." A few basic entry programs are experimenting with online elements for their courses. But it is a rare online course in massage continuing education in which the instructor is directly involved in the course. The knowledge of educational technology and multimedia course design are beyond the skill base for a lot of CE providers.
However, when an instructor is involved, the course can be more rewarding, interactive and personal even more than a classroom experience. Many of my students routinely say they feel more comfortable speaking out in online discussions or communicating directly with me or other students because they can take the time to properly formulate thoughts and responses. The shyest student in a workshop who might never pose a question in that setting has far more freedom to express themselves and ask questions in an online course.
In a quality online class, coursework can be designed to be student-centric, with the instructor playing the role of facilitator. When students have an instructor interacting with them, the class can be a far more enriching learning experience. An active-style-learning design allows for greater opportunity for communication and collaborative learning between students, as well as between the student and instructor.
Course work, though, must be designed appropriately. There is a big difference between the skills needed to be a classroom teacher and those needed to teach online. Seasoned online instructors know how to leverage greater communication and interactivity throughout their courses. The course designer is crucially important in online education, and the more the designer understands proper content and instructional strategies, the better the course she or he can build.
Clearly, for the classroom instructor having an online element that involves more interaction with the student can be more time consuming (however, this is usually made up by more focused and efficient classroom time). This is true for continuing education where traditional online courses require minimal, if any, involvement.
A facilitated (instructor led) online course allows students to communicate with the instructor throughout the duration of the course. As students integrate the work and materials into their practice, important inquiries often arise. Having the instructor available at that point can be highly beneficial.
"Online learning seems too passive. I like a more engaged learning experience."
People attain this perception because the majority of what is called online learning in the massage profession is, in fact, passive. A recent article on online learning in massage referred to three styles - the webinar, text-based and video - as the three options available for online courses. That may have been what the author offered, but this hardly constitutes the bulk of online learning outside the massage profession.
Text, webinars or video can be all there is to an online course, with some kind of test at the end for the participant to receive CEs for answering. But more engaged courses use these as components and use educational design platforms that allow more active learning activities. Simply reading text, listening to a webinar or watching a video are passive learning experiences. The massage profession is burgeoning with these courses. But these courses represent the more remedial end of online learning course design.
Online education presents unique opportunities to produce activities that engage the student in applied, dynamic learning. There is a wealth of research on the advantages of engaged or active learning vs. passive learning. One of the biggest advantages of advanced online course design is the ability to move beyond the antiquated "text and test" model. Applied learning does not ask the student to recall or remember material; it requires the student apply that material in innovative, well-designed activities that cement the information into the student's repertoire of function.
Simulations, scenarios and problem-based learning strategies are just a few of the options that can be used in online education to produce a highly individualized learning path that closely mimics the way an individual uses their knowledge and skills every day. This type of design produces rich and interactive learning experiences that are not possible in a traditional classroom (or passive learning options).
These learning experiences are complex and challenging to build and require a good understanding of multimedia technology and learning theory to be truly effective. But when designed correctly, they produce better learning outcomes and a far more interesting and interactive learning experience for the student. Rather than asking if the style of learning is visual or kinesthetic, students exploring online learning options should evaluate if the course is active or passive; what does the course have you doing?
"Massage is unique and online education does not work in our field." This is one of the more frustrating myths I encounter. It is perpetuated by state licensing boards and other regulating agencies that refuse to acknowledge online education for entry-level training or for certain continuing education credits. The argument being, that there is something different about massage than every other healthcare field which has chosen to adopt online education strategies.
Most states have stringent limitations or outright prohibitions against any of the basic curriculum being delivered online. Yet, massage technique is only one portion of any curriculum or foundation of knowledge required for massage practice. Perhaps those in opposition should look at Stanford Medical School which has produced some of the most innovative online learning strategies available for medical students. Is it really true that anatomy and the sciences can be taught online at Stanford, but is not good enough for the massage therapy field?
Most states have limitations for how many continuing education hours can be earned through online education as well. The purpose of continuing education is to continue the professional development of the practitioner. This is the reason the National Certification Board allows online education now for their certification.
The University of British Columbia has a masters degree in rehabilitation science that is completely online. In many states, none of that coursework would qualify for continuing education credits for a massage therapist in the U.S. However, sitting in the back of the room in a workshop and texting would qualify me for more CE credits than one of their courses.
"Most online courses are not very good." There is some truth to this statement – in the massage profession. But, this statement is entirely dependent on the instructor, the course design and the content quality. Bad classroom courses can be found just as readily as bad online courses. Notably, you can have a bad course with a well-known instructor and a fabulous course with an unknown; a remarkable well-designed online course and a poor workshop experience with a star, etc.
It is so easy to throw a simple course up online that the massage profession is getting flooded with really low quality courses. Most online course creators do not either have the interest, time, design training or the investment in online course technology and platforms to produce high-quality courses. The fact is, moving beyond simply putting a test online to go with a webinar, video or PDF takes a serious time and financial investment from the instructor. And it requires either training for that course creator or a rather substantial investment to hire someone qualified to create this kind of learning experience for the student.
In online education, deciphering the good from the bad takes some investigation, just as it does with a workshop. Choosing the most beneficial and cost-effective course – either online or workshop – can be difficult. Wading through the marketing lingo to get at the truth of a course can be an investigative project. We all want to make the wisest investment into our professional development that we can.
Having taught in the classroom for 25 years and been involved in online education for more than a decade, I see tremendous potential for online learning. But I also see a lot of room to grow overall in our educational programs in massage. The discrimination against online education in the massage profession is akin to saying you must travel from point A to point B, but we will only recognize your arrival if you come in a Ford, not a Chevrolet.
The key is about the quality of instructional design and not the method of delivery itself. It's time to start focusing on developing high-quality learning experiences regardless of what vehicle we use to achieve our educational goals.
Click here for more information about Whitney Lowe, LMT.
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