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Pharmacology and pharmacy, 5.3 EDUCATIONAL SCIENCES
Students on work placement will have very different experiences from each other, however they are generally not connected to their peers, but working with professionals under the guidance of a college tutor. Therefore during placement they are not formally supported by peers and cannot learn from the diverse range of activities their peers will experience. An active learning community and a sense of connectedness to others are critical to real learning (LaPointe, 2008), while learning through participation in a community of practice involves sharing experiences and discovering how to improve by regularly interacting with peers (Wenger, 2002). The aim of this project was to introduce a blog assessment for pharmacy technician students to encourage reflection on performance and the development of a community of practice, which together are important steps towards lifelong learning. Benefits of embedding online discussion forums include engaging students in collaborative learning, encouraging deeper analysis and critical thinking (McNamara, 2009), and recently the use of blogs as reflective tools for students on placement has been utilised (Wolf, 2010).
This presentation describes the implementation of online work placement blogs to allow work placement experiences to be shared with the whole class. Feedback mechanisms are discussed, along with assessment strategies which actively promoted student interaction with their peers. This ensured that all students had the potential to learn: from each other’s experiences, from tutor feedback on peer blogs and from the process of peer review.
Pedagogical evaluation was through an anonymous multiple choice questionnaire (N=33) and results suggest a very positive response to blogs for learning generally, and particularly for learning through sharing diverse experiences.
Dunne, J.: Work placement blogs to harness diverse learning experiences and foster a community of practice. Proceedings of the 4th. Annual Learning Innovation Network Conference, Dublin, Ireland, 2011.