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The use of blogging as a reflective tool in physiotherapy ethics

SAAHE conference, 2009

Context
The use of social software in higher education facilitates collaborative learning practices and mirrors the social
constructivist principles of education by encouraging deeper engagement with both content and individuals.
Reflection promotes higher order cognitive skills that promote critical thinking, and together with ethical
reasoning has been shown to contribute to professional development and clinical practice. A blog is a service
that allows a user to post ideas online, as well as to solicit feedback from others that serve to contribute to an
ongoing discussion. This allows for a rich, diverse stream of ideas that provide further input into the reflective
process.

Aims
The aim of this study is to evaluate the use of blogging as a tool for enhancing physiotherapy students' reflective
practice during an ethics module. By participating in an online, networked conversation on human rights in
healthcare, students will discuss some of the problems inherent in the South African healthcare system, as well
as recognise and acknowledge the different viewpoints of others.

What was done


A blogging environment was created to allow only students and the lecturer access to post, read and comment
on reflections. Articles relevant to the ethics module were provided for students to read and to inform their
reflections. They were required to read and comment on the reflections of their peers, facilitating an ongoing
conversation around the topic. On completion of the assignment, students will be asked to evaluate the process.

Impact
With the move towards a more networked society and the increasing use of online tools in education and
practice, educators must take cognizance of new approaches to teaching and learning. The use of blogging as a
tool for reflective practice has shown positive results in other disciplines but has not been evaluated in
physiotherapy education.

Take home message


Blogging as a tool for reflection brings advantages to the process of professional development that are not easily
leveraged with any other medium. The characteristics of the platform allow for collaborative discussion,
immediate feedback and encourages deeper engagement with the content, all of which facilitate more
meaningful interactions and stimulate professional development.