I’ve always been on the fence about how I felt about social media in the fitness/health professional world. I know that it’s a great way to network and to get your name out there with practically no financial investments. However, there was always something stopping me though or pulling me back away from it. I suppose it might have had something to do with my introverted-tendencies or wanting to avoid other people’s judgements…but then I read this article a couple of weeks ago by a classmate of mine, Dan Ogborn, and I was pushed over the fence.
The article helped me view blogging in a different light, one that is much less intimidating. Dan describes it as a way to “publicize your learning process“. As he put it,
“But what if we stop thinking of blogs solely as a business opportunity, of driving passive income into your bank account, and start to take a sandbox approach where you develop a community that you can share and develop your ideas with? I think you’ll find that much of the fear and resistance to the idea will dissipate.”
Let me backtrack a bit now…
I just started my first year of Physiotherapy at McMaster University. One of the key features of the program is a problem-based learning environment. Essentially, the lectures are replaced with Problem Based Tutorials (PBTs) and a lot of learning on our own time.
Each PBT group consists of 6 – 7 students and a tutor who helps to facilitate the learning process. During a PBT, we are given a case study and from that case study, we have to develop learning objectives (LOs). For example, one LO my group came up with during our first PBT was, “What are some common elbow pathologies and their signs and symptoms?”. Before our next PBT, we are expected to research on our own and find answers to the LOs we came up with. At the start of the next PBT, we discuss each LO and what we each found. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to contribute to the group discussion. A major emphasis is made on keeping an open mind, thinking critically, and being respectful of our peers. Although it’s only been two weeks since I started, and I am still getting accustomed to problem-based learning, I am really enjoying this process so far!
So how does this relate to blogging?
The way I see it is, by starting a blog, it’s like I’m voicing my thoughts and what I’ve learned to my PBT group. Except in this case, my PBT group is with other people on the internet who share the same interests as me. Also, my LOs are just whatever I want to look up :). Just as with PBT at school, I shouldn’t be afraid to voice what I’ve learned because:
- If I’m wrong, or if there’s evidence that goes against what I’m saying, I would want to know that! It’s all part of the learning process. If my ideas change over time because of new evidence, so be it. Who says we’re not allowed to change our minds?
- I’m never going to be able to read every single journal article out there. If there are other people out there who have read up on the same topic, have different sources, and are willing to share their information, that’s great! It saves me time from having to read all the research myself and provides other perspectives. The same is true in reverse too; I could be helping other people by sharing my sources.
- it allows me to practice my communication skills
- it allows me to summarize my thoughts and solidify what I’ve learned
Another aspect of our PBTs I like are the group and individual evaluations at the end of each session. During this time, we discuss what we, as a group, did well and what we could improve. As well, we make constructive self and peer evaluations. It’s a little uncomfortable at first, especially when you have to constructively criticize the person next to you. However, I think this is a very important aspect of PBT. It’s a great way to hone in on your weaknesses, as well as to help your peers work on their weaknesses. I hope that by publicizing my learning process via this blog, I can get constructive feedback about things I need to work on (and maybe some things that I do well too :p).