The aim of this article is to provide readers with a snapshot look at the world of weblogs and how they can be used to support student nurses in preregistration education while on an international clinical placement.
A blog is shorthand for a frequently updated weblog and is an online, chronological collection of personal commentary and links called posts. Blogs are useful educational tools because they facilitate social interaction in teaching and learning and enable learners to collaboratively develop their knowledge through reflection, analysis, and feedback from others.
The University of Salford’s School of Nursing and Midwifery blog was developed to allow preregistration students on an international placement the opportunity to connect with staff and students and the course material while away from home. The rationale for its introduction was based on exploring mechanisms other than e-mail and telephone for supporting students facing personal challenges such as being alone, language barriers, and lack of confidence to manage difficult situations while away (Lee, 2004).
By using a blog, it was hoped that we could capture the students’ thoughts and comments about their learning abroad as it happened. The students’ peers could also read about the bloggers’ life experiences on an international placement, allowing them to relate to the encounters, offer support, and post ideas and suggestions.
Evaluation comprised a focus group that included two lecturers and eight students. Thematic analysis of the narratives of the participants arose and included:
Blogging within the School of Nursing and Midwifery at the University of Salford is now an integral part of academic, clinical, social, and psychological support for students who are fortunate enough to go on an international placement. However, before a blog is set up, it is useful to consider the recommendations above to aid a smooth transition into the world of blogs.
Melanie Stephens, MA, BSC, PGCert, RGN
Dawn Hennefer, MA, PGCert, BSc(Hons),
Helen Keegan, BA(Hons), PGCert
University of Salford