I’m Blogging. Here’s Why You Should Too.

September 11, 2010 at 6:01 pm 8 comments

I attended a session at a conference last year where a young woman presented the lessons she learned over a year of developing a health promotion program for churches.  While listening to her presentation I had a distinct sense of déjà vu. I had already learned the same lessons over five years of working with churches. It occurred to me that if she had called me at the start of her program, I could have told her in 30 minutes everything it took her a year to learn. She could have then focused her research on unanswered questions that would advance our knowledge and improve our practice.

This has been bothering me for a while now. It seems that we are spending our limited resources to learn the same lessons over and over again. I certainly wasn’t hoarding the information. We published three articles on the program in scholarly journals and my colleagues and I presented frequently at all of the major conferences, including the year before at the very same conference!

The problem is that journal articles rarely focus on the practicalities of implementing programs and conference presentations are only effective at reaching the small group of people who can attend the conference and then choose to attend your session. Talk about narrow bandwidth.

Tin cans with string between them

But what if I had been blogging my experiences as I was implementing the program? Here is a medium that would have allowed us to capture the lessons learned in real time, and talk in-depth about topics not normally covered in scholarly journals. We would have also had the potential to reach more people in a timely and cost effective way. It might have also opened up the opportunity to connect with people in related fields who do not read our journals or attend our conferences, but have valuable insights to share. And it might have increased the likelihood that people working on the same problems could have found me and talked to me. Social media tools are not going to replace a solid lit review and environmental scan. And they won’t take the place of face-to-face networking.  They do, however, hold the opportunity to improve our collaboration and learning. It is worthwhile to give some thought to how we can take advantage of this medium to improve the way we work.

Here are three very good blogs I follow in the field of instructional design. They provide rich content with practical implications. They are also good examples of how blogs and other social networking tools can be used to facilitate dialogue and learning on current topics.

Diane Rees’ Instructional Design Fusions Blog explores instructional design and new technology in e-learning and training. She focuses a significant portion of the blog on applying principles of instructional design to developing healthcare materials. The posts are scholarly and very well written. Her commentary is grounded in instructional design theory and research, and relevant to practitioners. She also provides extremely useful links and references that enhance the depth of the information provided and she invites readers to contribute their knowledge and resources.

Jane Bozarth’s blog, the bozarthzone, focuses on the use of social media in training. What is nice about this blog is that is the author is firmly rooted in the fundamentals of training theory and practices. She does not promote the use of Web 2.0 tools for their own sake, but provides practical applications for their use.  I also appreciate her commentary on the role of different types of training and learning in organizations and her innovative tips for using social media tools to engage learners. She models the social learning techniques she describes by engaging readers in discussions on relevant topics in her blog and social networking sites.

The Usable Learning blog, written by Julie Dirksen, is focused on instructional design and e-learning. Julie’s intriguing posts cover a range of topics including the design of educational games, how learners construct and organize information, and professional issues in the instructional design field. This blog is rich with examples and analogies that present complex topics in interesting and thought provoking ways. It also makes excellent use of visual aides to support key concepts and there are many useful links.

So what’s your blog about?

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Thinking About Learning: Metacognition in Adults

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. sjdesigner  |  September 16, 2010 at 1:40 am

    Alexis,

    I like your blog. The writing is very smooth and starts off nicely. I added one of the links to my reader.

    Thanks,
    Sharon

    Reply
  • 3. Mary  |  September 16, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    Hi Alexis, I liked your BLOG! I enjoyed reading about Diane Rees’ article on how to apply principles of instructional design when developing healthcare materials. My goal is to go into Instructional Design within healthcare because I just recently obtained my undergraduate degree in healthcare studies. We studied Pubic Health and I loved the idea of going into Health Education. I also see you are a Certified Health Education Specialist.

    How did you get into this field?

    Thanks,

    Mary

    Reply
    • 4. Alexis Williams  |  September 17, 2010 at 10:49 pm

      Thanks Mary. I think we need more instructional designers in health education. Health Education programs have some instructional design courses, but if you are going to develop educational content and/or train people, it really helps to have more knowledge in the area.

      I got into the field because my mentor in college was Medical Sociologist. So I took a lot of courses related to the social aspects of health and illness. She also got me involved as a volunteer for the American Cancer Society. And I was also a peer counselor in college teaching safer sex classes. All of this got me interested in population level health issues as well as teaching health. That is why I decided to get an MPH in Health Education. I really enjoy the work and will talk to anybody about being a health educator. Let me know if you have any questions about the profession.

      Reply
  • 5. Mary  |  September 20, 2010 at 12:15 am

    Did you get your certification from the National Commission for Health Education (CHES)? During my undergraduate healthcare studies, I had a couple courses in Health Education. Plus I had several courses in Public Health and the social aspects of health and illness. I see a few jobs for Health Educators within my area but they want a nursing degree. So I wasn’t sure their was a job market for health educators without a nursing degree. Do most of the health educators job positions require a nursing background?

    -Mary

    Reply
    • 6. Alexis Williams  |  September 21, 2010 at 10:15 am

      Yes, my certification is from the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing. I would say, most CHES are not nurses. Health Education is not necessarily a part of nursing school. So for a nurse who wants to provide education in clinical setting, it is valuable to have a CHES. But if you don’t work in a clinical setting it is not necessary to have a nursing degree. You find CHES in community based organizations, worksites, local, state and federal government, schools, colleges and universities and private firms. So the field is wide open. Many employers don’t realize they need a CHES so the requirement is not always in the job description, however this is starting to change. Many worksite wellness programs require CHES and you often see it as a requirement for people in student health. Many of the agencies who develop health education and communication programs also look for CHES certification, and it is increasingly a requirement to coordinate health education activities in health departments. If you go to the NCHEC website and look at the job postings, you will see the diversity of jobs that look for CHES certification.

      Reply
      • 7. Mary  |  September 22, 2010 at 7:33 pm

        Thanks! I have been on the NCHEC website and will look more into the health educator certification.

  • 8. Welcome to My Blog « Take Home Messages  |  June 27, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    […] Welcome to my blog. I’m a health educator who has spent the last 15 years developing and disseminating programs to try to help people reduce their risk for chronic diseases by eating more healthfully and being more active. Since I’ve mostly worked on national programs, most of my time has been spent providing training and technical assistance to other health educators, community health workers, lay health ministers and just about anyone trying to make a difference in their community. I have discovered that my true passion is helping people who work in public health improve their ability to do their jobs. I’m currently taking courses in Instructional Design and Educational Technology because I think will help me be better at my job. I blog (when I get the chance) about how we might be better trainers, educators and communicators, and because maybe we’ll start learning from each other and stop reinventing wheels. […]

    Reply

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