Wikipedia and EBP in academia and speech and language therapy/pathology

When you tell your students that they should not be citing Wikipedia in their essays, or even just using Wikipedia as a search tool, are the reasons you give evidence based?

Wikipedia = Reliable?After completing my first week of teaching at my new University I was led to do some research into ‘accuracy of Wikipedia’ after it has become clear that the students here seem to make use of technology within classes to a greater extent that I had previously experienced back in the UK. In one particular session where the students were working in groups it was not long before I heard reference made to Wikipedia as a source of information and then not long after this I saw another student actively scrolling through some information on the web-based “anyone can edit” encyclopaedia. Now, students (the vast majority anyway) so appear to be aware that their lecturers don’t like them to be citing Wikipedia in essays and such – I have explicitly dissuaded students from doing so myself. The reason I, and I’m sure many others give is generally along the lines of ‘you can’t trust the information to be reliable as it’s not written by ‘experts’ – anyone who wishes to do so can write anything about anything and so how can it be accurate to the level required at University?’

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My thoughts on: Reading TherAppy from Tactus Therapy

Key details (taken from http://www.tactustherapy.com/reading.html)

Reading TherAppy – Phrase and Sentence-Level Reading Comprehension

From Tactus Therapy Solutions (website includes a video demonstration)

Cost:£10.49 / $14.99 (at time of writing) at the iTunes App store

Goal areas

Targets reading comprehension, attention, problem solving

For who?

Aphasia, Alexia, Alzheimer’s Disease, Dementia, Cognitive-Communication Impairment, Brain Injury, Early Language Learners, Language Learning Disability, Autism, English as a Second Language Learners

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Review

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Appraising apps in SLT/P (1) – Outcome measures and building the evidence base

I’ve resisted the cliché of calling this post “App”raisal / APPraisal / app-raisal

Well I’d probably over-estimated myself at the end of my last blog post when I suggested I’d present a structured approach to appraising apps. The more I thought about it, the more there seemed to be to think about and naturally there would always be things that I’d miss out on. So in the interests of getting a post up and making the topic of appraising apps more manageable and not restricting it to just a single blog post, I’m now proposing to present questions and things to think about, more or less as they occur to me. I’ll probably aim to introduce one or two into any one blog post. This means that I can always add to my list of thoughts later, and it also gives people the opportunity to comment and make suggestions (if they are so inclined).

Results are much easier to digest in graphsSo without any further excuses and delays I’ll go directly into some of my considerations on the issue. These will not necessarily be in any particular order as I’ll aim to make things more structured (i.e. so they could fit on a couple of sides of A4) as my list becomes more well-rounded and refined.

1) How can outcomes be measured?

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Get with the times – Speech and Language Therapists need to be informed about apps!

Apps are here whether we like it or not. SLTs can't keep their head in the sandConsidering my previous post highlighting some of my thoughts on the availability of apps in SLT I thought I’d attempt to follow this up relatively quickly with some of my thoughts on the SLT’s responsibility in being aware of and appraising apps. Both of the comments on the previous post (at the time of writing this) alluded to the same point in one way or another: as SLTs we have to accept that parents/clients/family will not be passive when it comes to speech and language impairment. It is only natural to want to help when your child or partner has difficulties with communication. Therefore, in the current climate, an app may make for an obvious choice as a possible way to help. This may be especially the case when SLTs’ caseloads are growing and it may be a considerable amount of time before the client has the chance to receive ‘professional’ intervention.

Therefore, to ally my apprehensions, I do propose that it is the SLTs responsibility to:

1) accept that apps are going to be increasingly relevant in the field of SLT. Even if apps are not an individual SLT’s preferred method of delivering intervention, we still have a responsibility to have an awareness of apps because there will more than likely be a time when a new client says something along the lines of “I’m thinking about buying this app because it says it can help with X”.

When faced with such a statement, we are the expert so we should be able to offer an opinion, or at least we should know how we can find out more information.

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Some positives and possible warnings about ‘apps’ in speech and language therapy

It appears as though apps are the future of speech and language therapy.In theory I do not have a problem with this as it does make sense to keep up with technology and exploit it wherever there is the potential for it to make our (speech and language therapists’) lives easier, and more importantly, to make a positive contribution to our clients’ development/recovery/rehabilitation.As an illustration of the increasing popularity of ‘apps’, I arrived home today to find the latest edition of the RCSLT’s Bulletin through my door and inside there was an article giving an overview of some of the apps that are currently available for adults with speech and/or language and/or swallowing needs.

Therapy AppsFrom the SLT’s perspective, apps, or more generally tablet computers, would appear to be a sensible investment: they are small yet can store a huge number of different files and applications (i.e. therapy materials); they are touch screen, hence making it an interactive tool which is presumably engaging for clients; they are customisable; if clients see them as being useful, they may then purchase their own hardware and continue therapy independently (which may therefore give the SLT more time to see other clients/patients). Although the hardware itself may be a bit pricey, hard copies of published therapy materials aren’t exactly cheap, so in terms of budgeting, it may be a case or re-directing the flow of cash from buying expensive hard copies of materials which take up valuable shelf space to buying an expensive piece of hardware plus relatively cheap electronic materials which altogether would take up the same amount of space as a single book on a shelf (and a thin book at that). Read more of this post