Part two of this special issue on physical therapist education continues the exclusive interview with four academic leaders. (Read Part one.) (Meet the participants.)
Education is always evolving. Has the pandemic altered the course of that evolution?
Mary Blackinton, PT, MS, EdD: The pandemic has definitely and significantly facilitated the evolution of physical therapist education. Prior to the pandemic, I'd say 90% of instruction was face to face in brick and mortar classrooms. There were a small number of programs using flipped classrooms or online face-to-face teaching — and that movement was growing.
COVID-19 forced a move from evolution to revolution. Faculty were quickly forced to move from synchronous in-person traditional learning into synchronous and asynchronous online learning. My mom always used to say "necessity is the mother of invention." The pandemic did that with PT education.
Faculty who only dabbled with online classrooms were forced to rapidly change the delivery — but without a lot of intentional planning for that delivery. So it provided an "a-ha" moment –"Oh we can do this differently" — but it didn't provide some of the structure that those of us who had selected hybrid or other environments were able to do. We know from best practices that just changing where you're delivering your lecture isn't transforming, so there's more work to be done in faculty development, looking at best practices and how to intentionally design online experiences.