Andalusian School of Public Health (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN09 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Pages: 5494-5495
ISBN: 978-84-612-9801-3
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 1st International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2009
Location: Barcelona ,Spain
The blog has become an essential communication and information-sharing Internet-based tool in certain segments of our society. Within education, it is becoming much more widely used and will continue to expand rapidly as institutions and teachers learn about its adaptability for the classroom.
Concerning health education, some recent studies strongly recommend the need for effective research in determining best practices and finding novel ways of combining Web 2.0 technologies in courses design (Boulos et al. 2006).
In this context, we would like to present a case study of our experience with the on going development of an educational blogging assignment in a Health Management course for a Public Health Master's degree.

An action research plan has been adopted to carry out this study. Action research is considered as a collaborative activity for finding ways to improve teaching and increase student achievement (Kemmis et al, 1988).

Because of the pilot nature of the project we decided to utilise the free blog hosting service Wordpress (http://www.wordpress. com), since it is free, fast, reliable, and well-known (Bryant 2006). A two hours workshop on Blogging and Web 2.0 tools was conducted with the whole student cohort to examine the Wordpress system and to outline the overall objectives and expected learner outcomes of the assignment.

Two evaluation methods have been used to examine the learning effects and outcomes of this blogging project. The first phase of evaluation was to conduct a content analysis of blogs followed by a feedback survey at the end of course, to get insight of students’ experience with the blogging activity and to highlight its strengths and weaknesses.

Four blogs were created and maintained by students for 12 weeks. Entries on the blogs showed that all students participated in blogging activity by a sizeable contribution, with a total of 108 posts and more than 130 comments.

A total of 24 responses to feedback survey were received from 28 students (85% response rate). All the students access Internet every day. The majority of the students were not regular blog creators but they used to read personal and professional blogs. Moreover, many take part on social networking sites such as MySpace or FaceBook.
Majority of students agreed that blogging assignment activities improved their ability to learn and improving their writing style. All respondents recommended the implementation of such blogging assignments in other public health courses.
The overall satisfaction of students with this blogging activity was 86.6%.

Blogging educational activities offers a considerable advancement over previous online learning environments (OLEs). The personal expressive dynamics of blogging help restore a vital sense of individual empowerment and valorisation, lost in many other OLEs such as discussion boards and wikis where the focus is often on the abstract shared communication space rather than the individual (Farmer, 2006).

This paper contributes to illustrate how blogging assignments could help in reinforcing quality of public health education. Schools of Public Health need to incorporate different forms of learning spaces using an imaginative expansion of available collaborative Internet tools. Students are moving towards active critical analysis and professional writing competences through blogging.