Bodell, S., et al. (2009). “Creating a learning community in today’s world: how blogging can facilitate continuing professional development and international learning.” The British Journal of Occupational Therapy 72(6): 279-281.
Unfortunately I do not have the full text of this opinion piece to share which I had to get hold of via the Warwick University library. It is a shame as I have two by the same author both exploring how social media can assist with education. The other one I will eventually appraise (it is about professional Face booking) but I will start with this article from June 2009. One thing I have learnt in critically appraising a generic educational subject is that the first thing I look at – relevance – is less important. I am a primary care physician; the author of this article is an occupational therapist. Yet the principles of SNS and healthcare education are still the same.
A blog (web log) is an example of a Web 2.0 use. I was always under the assumption Web 2.0 was a type of HTML or application. Actually Web 2.0 is a term used to describe second generation Internet capability. It is not specific. The benefits of Web 2.0 (and specifically blogging) in healthcare education are not widely known. Indeed one of the future considerations for research is to look at Web 2.0 and its educational impact in postgraduate education.
The author describes 3 areas where a blog may be helpful.
As a Tool for Reflection. Blogging is a useful way of reflecting both as an individual physician as well as in group reflection. The latter is my aim with writing a blog linked to the Salisbury Plain PBSGL.
As a Tool for Peer Discussion. This follows on from using blogging as group reflection. Indeed these two are probably part of the same entity. Certainly receiving my POEMs or reading my journals, my intent is to write my own take on the articles (with a critical hat on) to try & promote discussion. Related to this is dissemination of guidelines and best practice amongst a Network of Practitioners. This sounds great in theory but with two cautions. Firstly it is time consuming. I am trying to work full time, trying to complete my assignment as well as have a home life. The limitations of a blog are it is author orientated so the onus is on me. This can be mitigated by engaging some of my fellow PBSGL members for which I will canvass support at the next meeting. The second area of concern is confidentiality. This I think will limit clinicians engaging and sharing experiences in a public forum.
As a Tool for extending knowledge. The reverse chronological order of a blog is cited as a way of developing knowledge. I personally cannot see this as a decent search engine will find posts. It can however run alongside the traditional ways of acquiring knowledge to augment it and the author cites a couple of studies reinforcing this. Since starting my blog, and through microblogging (Twitter), I have viewed other blogs and sites and now have numerous tools at my disposal to answer questions that arise from my day to day practice. My most recent literature search involved registering with www.researchgate.net and I have also become reacquainted with CHAIN again ( http://chain.ulcc.ac.uk/chain/index.html ). Indeed if the term ‘tool for extending knowledge’ is defined loosely, through NoPs, informal learning, Web 2.0 applications etc, this is probably the most powerful effect of blogging.
In summary, this opinion piece summarises nicely the potential of blogging in healthcare education. I am concurrently reading a research article which is attempting to put some meat on the bones; some objective evidence of improved outcomes using microblogging. However I have run out of time and have clinic so I will save that for another time…