Why I Ask Students to Blog in My Informatics Class

This semester will be the 4th year I am teaching HI 201: Health Informatics in the MS Health Informatics medical informatics track. Since the first year, I’ve asked my students to blog for my class. Here’s why –

blog

This slide is from my slide deck http://www.slideshare.net/isiptan/hi-201-health-informatics.  You can read the blog post by Jenny Luca here. Let me use Jenny’s framework as they apply to my class.

Positive digital footprints

Medical informatics is still an emerging field in the Philippines. Asking my students to blog about their course work helps them establish their personal branding, which can be useful for them later when looking for employment. It also trickles back to the masters program and hopefully (!) inspires more students to apply for the degree.

Communicating with digital tools

I ask my students to write their blog post and share it on Facebook and Twitter. They will learn new ways of communicating on these platforms.

From http://www.edutopia.org/discussion/social-media-stem-project-based-teams

Rather than avoiding social media interaction with students, which many people are doing, fearing negative publicity, you can actually teach social media in your team-based STEM project. This allows you to share your experiences, connections, and lessons learned, and also allows students to learn how to navigate the social media environment in a professional manner.

Transparency for parents and family

While Jenny was writing about her grade 7-12 students, this still applies to our students in the graduate course. Informatics is not yet a very established career track for health professionals in the Philippines. Sometimes family and friends are puzzled over our students’ choice of postgraduate studies. The students are challenged to blog in a way that can be understood by those who are not in the informatics field.

New ways of thinking about web tools

As part of their coursework, the students will be asked to create visual proof of their learning in an infographic or a concept/mind map. Their blog posts will not only reflect the end product but also the process, hence they will likely discuss web tools used. Through their blog posts, they invite others to comment and perhaps suggest other web tools too.

Effective digital citizenship

What is digital citizenship? From digitalcitizenship.net –

Digital citizenship is the norms of appropriate, responsible technology use.

The students in my course are either doctors, nurses or other paramedical personnel. Healthcare professionals are held to a higher standard online as they need to maintain public trust. I have young sons and see that digital citizenship is taught in their school, in a way that perhaps my current masters students didn’t experience. Managing a blog helps them become more responsible digital citizens.

 

 

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