MacDermott, S. and Spencer, A. (2013) USING A BLOG AS A TOOL FOR REFLECTIVE LEARNING IN NURSE EDUCATION. [Conference Proceedings]


With the recent rapid developments in technology and the web there has been a shift in the culture of education delivery. Modes of communication have radically changed over the last number of years and nurse educators need to understand who their learners are and how they prefer to communicate. The recent body of knowledge suggests that integrating Web 2.0 technologies into learning resources increases student retention (Abate et al 2011) and helps them become both lifelong and self-regulated learners (Zimmerman & Tsikalas 2005). These new teaching and learning developments have the potential to facilitate a social constructivist model of learning through a collaborative and student-created approach (Alexander 2006). Weblogs, (known as blogs) first adopted by John Barger in 1997, have evolved as a personal web space for various purposes including group weblogs. Blogs have become a new and captivating form of communication and personal expression for a growing proportion of the population with young adults and college students being among the highest users. In the US Lenhart & Madden (2005) found that as many as four million college students maintain a blog or disclose personal information on other blog sites. Kumar et al (2004) study of the profile of 1.3 million bloggers found that 75% were between the ages of 16 and 24 years which fits with the specific age range of the majority of student nurses. This paper describes how a blog was introduced as an educational tool to a module on an undergraduate nursing programme in the Republic of Ireland. The module was delivered to 4th year nursing students on interculturalism. The aim of introducing blogging into the module was twofold: to introduce students to an alternative learning resource and to motivate and encourage students to engage with the content of the module. Cameron and Anderson (2005) acknowledge the motivational value of personal ownership and customisation afforded by blogs. Students had ownership of the design of the personal space of the blog. A further aim of introducing this technology was that the taught content of the module would act as the launch pad towards the students' self-directed learning on interculturalism. Issues of concern included lack of student engagement with the blog. Therefore students were required to complete weekly individual blog entries, including comments on peers' blogs. The blogs were to reflect on issues in relation to interculturalism that arose throughout the module. In addition students were required to reflect on clinical practice in which they care for a child/family within the healthcare setting from a different culture to their own, within their blog. They were asked to identify the challenges that arose and discuss how they met these, with appropriate reference to the literature. This brief paper describes the experiences of undergraduate nurses using a blog to support their learning. Results of an evaluation tool completed by students following the module are presented.

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