This is far from my first effort at blogging. There was a blog about classical music concerts in Dublin which may still exist out there. There has been a now defunct blog on the University of Warwick site entitled “Philosophy as a Way of Life.” There was a blog called “Taytoman Agonistes” which still exists – it was basically a commonplace book. There has been Scarface Project, , which I tried to get people interested in There has been Alarm Logos of Dublin, which I also have tried to get people interested in
And there was Psychiatry and Society , which was linked with a series of lectures of the same name I organised for UCD undergraduate medical students. The blog was the subject of academic research as you can read here. To quote that abstract in full:
Blogs have achieved immense popularity in recent years. The interactive nature of blogs and other web-based tools seem consonant with contemporary pedagogical theories regarding student engagement, learner-centred teaching and deep learning. The literature on the use of blogs in education and in particular medical education has focused largely on their potential use rather than the practical experience of medical educators.
We designed a series of teaching sessions designed to explore the interface between psychiatry, mental health, and wider social issues. To complement this course, a blog specifically designed to provide extra information on the material covered was produced, and to act as a forum for discussion. A widely available, free-to-access web based tool was used to create and design the blog. One of the course tutors was the administrator, and invited the other tutors and lecturers from the course to write on the blog. The blog was publicised at the students’ lectures, at which all the students were present, and via the students’ eLearning platform.
To fully assess the effectiveness of the blog in helping students achieve the learning objectives, quantitative measurements are required. A focus group of students was formed to explore medical students’ use of blogs for educational purposes in general, and the use of this blog in particular. These findings, and reflections on the use of the blog from the lecturer’s point of view, are presented
And that’s more or less what we did. The main “reflection” that has stuck with me in the years since was a comment from a participant that she preferred books as they were more interactive than online resources; you can simply underline, highlight and generally write on a book. This has stayed with me as an example of the paradox that “interactive” technology is “interactive” in very specific, designed ways.
The blog is still there in all its Blogspot glory. There isn’t all that much evidence of student interactivity, except here, predictably enough in a post about faith and delusion. I didn’t realise that there have been comments left in more recent years. I am not sure if any make all that much sense, even the ones which aren’t spam (and which are written in the patented Mr Angry YOU ARE JUST WRONG style so common in internet discourse)
Looking through the blog overall, I don’t find much that deserves to survive the inevitable disappearance of blogspot in a few years. I did come across this amusing story again which reminds me of something else entirely I will (probably) post here. Looking back ,there is a tension between the blog as a sort of electronic notice board (ie lecture A will be on date B) and my attempts to post contact that would evoke comment. This never really panned out. I deliberately kept a lid on prolixity and looked for topics that I thought would be interesting for a diverse group of medical students. Of course, in retrospect, it would have been best to enlist a group of medical students to actually blog themselves. Those days have come and gone, and Web 2.0 is rather old hat now, but it was an interesting experiment.