Blogging for professional development – does it work?

 I set this blog up about 8 weeks ago and as my tag line says it was to explore blogging as a means of professional development in occupational therapy. Given professional development is all about learning – I thought it was time that I decided whether blogging was having any effect or not … so what have I experienced ? and has blogging had an effect on my professional development?

Well so far I have noted:

  • increased confidence with web 2
  • by looking at other bloggers sites a greater awareness of the things occupational therapists are doing, and on many of the sites the postings have made me think about an issue they have raised
  • and on still other blogs an awareness that occupational therapy students are stressed by assignments, hate boring classes and time wasting – and some gems about what works in education for students but would like to know more about what they enjoy and what works for them what lights them up about occupational therapy – see the value of the positive in my earlier problem solving/appreciative inquiry posting
  • I am just starting to to find that I am now thinking about some of the reading that I am doing and thinking – how might I express/summarise what I am thinking about or learning from this, such that others might be interested as well – the act of having to express it firms up my thinking.
  • It is also pushing me to get into a regular pattern of articulating my ongoing learning – I am therefore more often asking myself what am I learning from this experience (reading, meeting, inservice, happening) – and this reflection firms the learning.

So I think I can say yes blogging is having a positive effect on my on going professional development. However I am not yet sure it is a habit – will I keep getting enough from this to keep it going – watch this space.

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12 responses to “Blogging for professional development – does it work?

  1. occupationaltherapyotago

    Whoops it seems like unknowingly Merrolee (oteducation fame see blog roll)and I were on a similar theme tonight. She told me she had done a posting but didn’t realise that we were both thinking similar thoughts – must be the cold snowy night air here in Dunedin.

  2. Hi Jackie
    Yep we sure do seem to be on the same track…. your posting reflects your experiences over the last 8 – 9 weeks… while mine drew from a reading I had done… interesting that we ended up on the same theme! (If it had snowed to sea level where we are I would have added a photo of snow outside our house to my blog… but all we got was the rain and the cold …Brrrrr…… 😉

    I’m interested in your comment that the act of knowing that you may want to create a post from an experience you have (whether a reading, or a discussion, meeting or event) then means that you perhaps are more alert or more conscious of what you are thinking.. which provides for more in depth reflection. Would be interesting to know if the students who actively blog about their learning such as Patti or Karen find the same?

  3. Thinking of supervision – could you see the potential for a therapist coming into supervision sitting down at the PC with you opening his/her blog and starting supervision by starting at a point somewhere in the blog??? Wouldn’t that be interesting??

  4. occupationaltherapyotago

    Yes I think that it is having an affect of raising to consciousness the learning I am taking from a situation. As Moon (1999) would say I am ‘noticing’ more, and working on the ‘making meaning’of the experiences to reach a ‘greater understanding’ (I don’t have her work here so her stages of reflection are as I remember them, my apology to Moon if they are a little out!). I guess the one thing I haven’t yet been getting a lot of through blogging is the bringing in of other perspectives which I am hoping to get from other bloggers (this is me needing to create better links with other bloggers). I see the ‘other perspectives’ as an important aspect of depth to reflection. I believe that to really gain from the reflective process that I firstly need to toss around the experience/issue with what I already know (my past experience), my belief’s and values and what theory I can bring to it – but then to get the depth there is a need to bring in of other knowledge and perspectives which support or challenge or add to my thinking. Sometimes you can go seeking these, a supervisor or a network can help (I guess I am hoping that the blogging community becomes one more of my networks).
    Re supervision I think that blogging can help address a small part of what supervision is all about. Kadushin (1992) talks about three distinct functions of supervision as: administrative, supportive and educative. McMahon (2002) outlined three concepts underpinning supervision, supervision is a relationship, supervision is a developmental process, and supervision is a learning opportunity, where supervisors are encouraged to create an environment that challenges and supports the supervisee. Additionally, McMahon advised of the need to ensure the work done in, or facilitated by, supervision is integrated into practice. I think that blogging therefore has a place in fulfilling some but not all of these features. I think it provides some of the background and a range of perspectives that you can bring to an issue you talk about in supervision . It can help ensure that you can be well prepared for supervision (have thought clearly what the expereince/issue is you want to talk about in supervision). However I think that if you are in a good supervisory relationship that has a high element of trust that the relationship allows for even more depth to emerge from your reflection on an experience or issue than a blog. I guesss those things you don’t put out in the public domain.

  5. Thanks for visiting my blog, Jackie! Merrolee has pointed out your blog to me a few times and I had been meaning to add you to my sidebar, which I finally did. In fact I kind of wrote a post, not necessarily a very good one, based on something you said that Merrolee pointed out to me.

    I’m really impressed with what you all are doing with Web 2.0. It seems to me that in OT blogging history, we might one day have a flourishing OT blog community and there will be a chapter on New Zealanders (sp), Otago, and Web 2.0!

  6. PS: Do you Otago educators share your blogs with your students? And why or why not?

  7. occupationaltherapyotago

    Hi Karen
    Its been really interesting to see how people are using their blogs and the things you learn from each one. You ask a really good question re whether we share our blogs with students. I say interesting because I would say yes we do! – but then I have to say we haven’t told them! So i should say yes we intend to. There has been an interesting debate within the school about what goes in the private and public domain. For example our stage 2 students (2nd year) all learn to do a Blog as part of one of the courses – they do these privately for the duration of the course after that they make the decision whether to go public – this is the first time we have done the course and they are just getting to assessment time so it will be interesting to see what they do. Some staff are more comfortable about things being in the publicdomain than others.
    Our own blogs have been slowly growing in content and worthwhileness and it is probably time that we alerted students to their presence, because it would be great to have their feedback/ideas/thoughts – I keep meaning to put my blog address under my address on my emails and there are other things we could do(its the initial linking to people and linking people in that takes time).
    We show students how to set up del.icio.us in stage 1 (the social bookmarking site) and to link to our libraries to get them started, these are then resources they can continue to tap into. The potential dilemma some raise is will students communicate for different things via the right mode of communication? – I think most are savy enough to know not to tell me they want an extension for their assignment on my blog when coming to see me is the right thing to do. I also think that they are budding professionals and that they know about professionalism, appropriateness, constructive feedback etc.
    I was doing a smile when I was adding some references to my del.icio.us library on student attendence and wondered whether they would think – umm Jackie’s concerned about attendance rates.. is that me she’s thinking about… however having a blog discussion about it might be very useful …maybe thats a blog coming up.
    My del.icio.us site is linked into my front page of the blog (I don’t know how to put a hyperlink into the comments – I’ve still got lots to learn).

  8. Thanks for your thoughtful response. It’s nice that you all are setting your students up to use this technology, especially since it has the potential to thereby help others. I hope you share your blogs with your students soon. I think its easy to view educators as not being fully dimensional (from a student perspective at least) and I think sharing your written words/thoughts with students is a somewhat intimate thing that allows them greater respect because you become a little bit more human. That is of course, assuming that you write appropriate things (like on your professional blog, not just a personal random blog!!) I guess that’s a whole other story…

    Anyway, I’m writing this tonight because A) I can’t sleep, but more importantly, B) my mom just e-mailed me and said “have you seen the pictures on Otago’s site, I want to go there”.

    So random!

  9. Jeez J, This seems to have been a long held secret! I had no idea you were blogging. And that’s probably what makes your blog so good! Look at all the comments you’ve scored! 🙂 You’re the first HOD I know of in Otago who is blogging. Thanks for giving it an honest go.

  10. Hi Jackie,
    Many thanks for visiting our blog (http://frederickroad.blogspot.com), and for commenting too. I have enjoyed reading your posts, it’s interesting how we are all finding our way with this technology. I can honestly say though, that in thinking about the blog, and preparing to post, I have come to have many ideas about how our profession can develop and grow as a global community via web 2.0. and how I can be a small part of that process.

    In the UK, OT’s often feel part of a very small group, but now I am beginning to feel part of a community of OT’s from around the world. Harnessing collective ideas and creativity has left me feeling really enthused about the profession, the nature of OT, and the people who provide it.
    Oh, and it’s fine to call us guys in the UK, it’s a unisex thing for us too! I’ll add you to our blogroll.

  11. occupationaltherapyotago

    Hi Sarah
    Thought it was time I got back blogging – my marking is over for the year and suddenly there is a bit of evening time.

    I was interested to find that I was looking forward to seeing what everyone was doing or thinking in my absence – so yes I agree we are slowly creating a community that has solved the problems of time and distance to let us share ideas. It’s great hearing/reading others issues and thoughts and extending and enhancing my opportunity for professional debate.

  12. Pingback: on the OTher hand » Blogs, blogs, blogs, who’s to say which one is the best?

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