Xerte – Health Psychology 1 – Intro for Students

Digital Literacies in the Disciplines.

Newman University – Xerte in a Health Psychology module.


Back in the summer Terry McAndrew of the HEA organised a meeting for all nine institutions that had been successful in bidding for Digital Literacies in the Disciplines awards to share with each other their project plans. Unfortunately I was in France at the time and so couldn’t attend and I now realise I have never communicated to others in the project what we at Newman University are up to. So this post makes amends for that.

Newman University’s Xerte Online Toolkit.

Rather than host XOT ourselves we decided to pay Learning Apps Ltd to host it for us – at least for the first two years. This is Ron Mitchell’s company and people in the Xerte world will know Ron from his active involvement in the Xerte project. We get our students onto this remote XOT by having an empty Moodle installation on the same server which is used to authenticate users onto XOT, and networking that Moodle to Newman’s Moodle.

The Health Psychology Module.

The module summary reads as follows:

Health Psychology is an exciting field within psychology that has important contributions to make to our understanding of the causes, progression, and treatment of illnesses. The module explores the theoretical models, which attempt to explain and predict health behaviour and examines the practical application of these models in health promotion campaigns. It focuses upon the relationship between stress, health and illness, and the factors that mediate this relationship (e.g., individual differences). It considers the impact of living with a disability and/or a chronic illness from the biopsychosocial perspective, and considers the impact of illness cognitions on behaviour. The module will further consider the impact of being hospitalised on a patient’s health and well-being from a psychosocial perspective. Thus, the focus of this module is concerned with promotion and maintenance of health, prevention and management of illness, and the identification of biopsychosocial factors contributing to health and illness.

The following explains what the students have to do with Xerte and is taken from information supplied to the students.

What is required of you! You will be required to develop an interactive web-based programme on one of the set topics described below in Health Psychology. The set topics are in the form of a problem based learning [PBL] scenarios, where you will be required to develop an interactive package.

Set Topic One – Create an Online Training ‘Workshop’ for Counsellors. “You are a consultant health psychologist working for an independent Health Psychology Consultancy Agency (HPCA). Your agency has expertise in the field of Health Psychology and offers workshops, training and research services to the public and private healthcare sector.

The agency has been approached by a Director of a Charity Counselling Service who requires your knowledge and skills to conduct a ‘training workshop’ suitable for the counsellors at the organisation. They would like the training to be delivered at a distance, online and in an interactive style and ideally on mobile devices. The training ‘workshop’ is required to introduce the benefits of Health Psychology principles, practices and services.

Why is your knowledge and skills required? Because counsellors hear about many lifestyle problems from their clients that are either a cause or consequence of illness or disability.

Thus, the Director of the Counselling Organisation feels that the counsellors would benefit from integrating knowledge of Health Psychology and its applications to address the individual and contextual aspects of the client. Human beings are complex and it is unlikely that a single theoretical/discipline approach can provide a direct panacea for a client’s problems, so the organisation requires your expertise in Health Psychology to identify which aspects of your discipline would be useful to the counsellors.

Your line manager (i.e. Tutors on the PY631 module) has allocated you to a small team. As a team you are required to evaluate and select the most appropriate information/content suitable for the counsellors. Interactive resources are a must.

For this task we would like you to develop your interactive resources using the functions of Xerte Online Toolkit and you will be provided with training on this package.”

So you will need to think about the following areas in Health psychology to address this topic (e.g., the content): Biopsychological model, Theoretical models introduced within the module, what services are available in Health psychology.

Think about the interactive functions available on Xerte to display your content, how are you going to inform the counsellors of the content?, how are you going to get them to interact with the content? Will you use video’s, images, quizzes for example?.

Or you could choose to do Set topic two:

Set Topic Two – Create an Online Resource for Preventable Health Behaviours.

“You are health psychologists working for a local NHS Primary Care Trust (PCT). Clients are referred onto you from the GP. You have worked with many different clients using your knowledge of Health Psychology to promote general well-being and understand clients suffering from physical and mental illnesses to improve their health and quality of life. You are trained to help people deal with the challenges they might face as a result of ill health or trying to lead a healthier life.

The GP would like you to develop an interactive tool on one preventable health behaviour (inactivity OR alcohol consumption). The interactive tool, should enhance knowledge of the risk of the behaviour, the impact upon health and wellbeing, factors related to such behaviour, and interventions. The tool must be interactive to ensure engagement and enhanced knowledge and should ideally be capable of working on mobile devices.

You may want to think about quizzes, videos, games etc. The package that you will be asked to develop these resources on is Xerte Online Toolkit, and you will be provided with training on this package”.

So you will need to think about the following areas in Health psychology to address this topic (e.g., the content): Biopsychological model, Statistics of the behaviour (e.g., the prevalence), Consequences of the behaviour, Theoretical models (for changing the behaviour), and Interventions (that you have identified from empirical literature e.g. journal articles etc).

Think about the interactive functions available on Xerte to display your content, how are you going to inform the public of the content?, how are you going to get them to interact with the content? Will you use video’s, images, quizzes, case studies for example?.

You need to choose one of these topics for your web-based programme. You will be in groups of five max to develop this web-based programme. So one programme per group. You will submit the web-based programme individually, but the group will get the same mark for the web-based programme. You will also need to submit an individual (NOT GROUP) critical commentary report of 1500 words alongside this programme – this will be submitted as a word document. You will get a mark for each submission e.g., web-based programme and critical commentary, then the average mark will be taken for this assessment – component 1. Submitted on USB memory stick to the HUB at Newman University. The USB will have your web-based programme and your critical commentary, thus two files on the memory stick.

Learning Design.

Although the students have not studied Learning Design as such, they have completed a module in Educational Psychology.

Today’s first session.

This morning was the first session of the Health Psychology module in which we are incorporating the use of Xerte Online Toolkits. Students were introduced to the module by Dr Lorna Dodd and Anatoli Karypidou, the two academics who will teach the module. I was not able to attend but via a narrated PowerPoint I explained how this module and its use of XOT fits into the larger Changing the Learning Landscape initiative and I briefly outlined the other eight projects so that the students felt part of something bigger than just their module. If a common virtual meeting space for the students from all the institutions is set up, I’m sure our students would value the opportunity to network. Finally in this morning’s session Nazryn Mohammed, one of our e-learning technologists, showed the students the XOT interface and gave them hands-on instruction about how to use it. Next week Ron Mitchell will conduct a session in which he will talk not only about Xerte but about planning and storyboarding and about other technologies that can be used to create learning objects in conjunction with XOT. Thereafter Nazryn will attend scheduled teaching sessions to be on hand to give technical assistance.

This post will be one of a series documenting how the project progresses. All will be tagged ‘xerte’ in the blog’s category list.

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