Blogging to enhance reflective and collaborative learning
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This study explored the educational benefit and value of blogging by postgraduate nursing students registered for Masters in Nursing Education in order to become professional nurse educators. The researcher assumed that blogging could improve collaborative learning among postgraduate students and enhance reflective practice skills. Critical reflection on experiences is envisaged to allow lecturers and students to develop a deeper understanding of themselves. Salmon’s five-stage model of online learning was used as it can provide valuable insight into how blogs can be utilised in online learning. The whole class was trained to set up group blogs by colleagues from the Centre for Innovative Educational and Communication Technologies at the university. Within their blogs they engaged with issues relating to curriculum development, also giving own reflections on these issues. Students were assessed on how well they reflected and commented on specific topics, concepts and principles. The students were initially challenged by this activity and seemed frustrated by low levels of engagement with colleagues within their blogs. The facilitator noticed adequate engagement in two of the three group blogs, where the students exchanged thoughts and ideas and shared experiences. On reflection, they expressed very positive attitudes toward use of blogs as a platform to reflect on their learning and teaching. The blog of the third group of students was dormant, with very limited activity. It is important that facilitators carefully select appropriate technological tools or strategies for teaching and learning, and do not assume that students will be comfortable with the technology even after training and preparation.