2.8 Distance Learning

Date Effective:  February 25, 2013

Date Revised: May 8, 2014

Scope: This policy applies to all internationally-educated physiotherapists applying to CAPR’s credentialling process.

Principles: The nature of the profession of physiotherapy requires that physiotherapists gain both clinical and theoretical knowledge and the ability to apply practical skills in the treatment of the patient.

Purpose

Distributed education and distance learning are becoming more common with advancing technology.  This policy sets out the position of CAPR with respect to the use of these approaches in physiotherapy education programs.

Definitions

Distributed education is a broad concept that encapsulates all attempts to move education partway or completely away from the standard concept of a centralized campus. This includes methods such as virtual classrooms or setting up off-site classes.

Distance learning is a subset of distributed education that refers to information-technology assisted learning that occurs between professors and students who are separated by time or space.

Background

Distributed education can make education more accessible, and has been used successfully within Canadian physiotherapy training programs; Physiotherapy Education Accreditation Canada has released a set of standards and guidelines dealing with distributed and distance learning. The most important of these is the principle of substantive equivalency, which states that even though there are unavoidable differences between traditional and distributed (including distance) learning, tools must be developed to ensure that students are evaluated equally. While this is possible with theoretical material it would be very difficult for courses that teach clinical material through hands-on experience, and CAPR has not yet been presented with an example of it being done successfully.

As clinical material is vital to the training of a physiotherapist, CAPR has concluded that an acceptable entry-level physiotherapy program cannot be taught entirely by distance learning methods.

Policy

It is the position of CAPR that an entry-to-practice physiotherapy degree cannot be entirely taught by distance learning.  Courses in physiotherapy clinical practice must have onsite, in person laboratory components with the presence of an instructor.  Additionally, clinical supervised practice placements or practicums must be delivered onsite with direct supervision.

Where an applicant has a recognized entry-to-practice level degree/diploma in physiotherapy, upgrading courses such as bridging or degree completion courses may be accepted if delivered by distance learning where these courses are not clinical practice courses.

This policy is not meant to discourage physiotherapy training institutions from integrating distributed learning components into traditional physiotherapy programs, and should not be interpreted as a stance against distributed learning itself.