Earlier this week I received my regular newsletter from Educause Learning Initiative (ELI) and I made the time to check some of the ELI Papers. The one on why students might use blogs caught my eye.

There are some nice reflections by Carie Windham in this paper.. I highlighted some sentences..

“Each time I wrote, I took a moment to process what had happened that day and reflect on the people I had met or the sights I had seen.” (p2)

This sentence says to me that Carie used her blog to make sense of an event in her day. She actively reflected – her writing started not with, we did or I did, then she said, then he did – rather she talks about thinking about what was said or did, and thinking about the actions behind those actions – particularly her own. Another part of the article ‘having a blog makes you more aware, it helps to process what happens in a day… you think about what happens – you process your interactions’. I know that my colleague Bronwyn Hegarty talks about the need for people to learn how to reflect and that blogs can be the mechanism for this – it seems like this is what Carie learnt as she started using blogging.

A recent Pew Survey stated that 54% bloggers are aged between 18 and 29… but only 10 percent reported that they used blogs in an academic setting. I wondered what the statistics would be for the occupational therapy profession – I know that most of the OT Blogs I’ve fond so far are written by younger people… how many use blogs for their professional development – hmmmm!!! Not sure – but starts to feel like a good place to consider some kind of survey or analysis of blogs..?

Carie goes on to look at why students blog? Some do just because….they can! Do any OT’s blog just because they can?

Then others use blogs as a communciation tool – for example an Honours Students Association stopped using email and instead had a “central blog to read announcements, respond to requests for information, and vote on items such as a club motto or a logo” (p3). This could work for our association but then therapists would need to know remember to check out the blog… its a habit that needs to be developed.. unless the postings also turn up in your email. Jackie and I are just trying that tonight but we can’t quite make wordpress do it!

Then others have become ‘citizen journalists’… in other words they become confident in describing or writing about what they are seeing in their everyday lives. Some will create for a college newsletter or keep track of a tournament as it is happening. I think this is a big leap for our professions – we are so used to seeing the writing of our colleagues only in journals (oh and our newsletter)… have we been socialised into believing that only certain members of our profession can write in the ‘academic’ way? ….. that there is an academic journalist but not a citizen journalist? Would that feeling stop therapists from writing about their day to day experiences? Hmm…

She finishes that section by saying that for those who blog because they can…. they do so as blogging provides “a forum for interaction with other students, an outlet for creative expression, and a way to reach beyond their formal network or their usual audience” (p. 4). For our profession then blogging could provide a forum for interaction with other students, an outlet for expression about our practice, and away to reach beyond our formal networks or audience (ie our immediate colleagues, team mates, friends etc…..). In this way we expose ourselves to multiple viewpoints.. which is a healthy process – yes?

Carie finishes her article on page 10…. “Blogs are definitely an opportunity to open the windows of communication” Could blogs for our profession open the windows of communication in the national and international community? Could blogs open the windows between the professionals and the people we provide a service for?

So a good article for helping me to move along in my thinking of the use of Web 2.0 tools as a mechanism for learning (ie professional development).