Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

Pharmacotherapy in Psychiatry goes fully online


In order to meet the needs of busy pharmacists working in diverse locations and practice contexts around New Zealand the course Pharmacotherapy in Psychiatry required redesigning to become fully online.

Monica Zolezzi, Senior Lecturer, School of Pharmacy wanted to make changes that would provide:

  • Flexible access to course materials (time and space)
  • Engaging, authentic learning in mental health management and prescribing
  • A professional development and communication support structure for isolated pharmacists working in a specialized field

Monica worked with Adam Blake (LTU) using learning design principles to redesign the course in the following ways:

Monica and a range of expert contributors used Articulate Presenter to share their expertise with students via narrative voiceovers for audio-visual presentations.

Videotaped patient interviews provided a real-world basis for course discussions in theUniversity's CECIL learning management system.

Case ‘logbooks' (personal journals in CECIL) were set up for participants to record, reflect and gain feedback on their own practice experiences.

Authentic case scenarios, together with participant practice experiences, acted as a platform for development of care plans addressing the most prevalent mental health conditions that participants could employ directly in their professional practice.

Monica learned how to use CourseBuilder to develop the course, which meant she had the control to create and update course content without having to depend on technical staff.

Adam and Monica carried out usability trials to test and refine a prototype of the course website and at the end of the development they undertook an evaluation to determine how the new course design supported health professional participants in developing their mental health management and prescribing skills.

Because of the positive reception of the course changes by staff and students, it has subsequently provided a template for other postgraduate pharmacy courses to be redeveloped for online learning.

"Adam has brought great enthusiasm to the role. He has literally opened our eyes to the potential of learning technologies and has worked collaboratively with our staff to help them develop and refine newteaching and learning practices." Professor John Shaw, Head, School of Pharmacy