Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Activity 6: Planning: BLOG versus BIOGRAPHIES

Hi everyone,
Had an interesting discussion about ‘Blogs versus biographies’ as we begin to ‘nut out’ the details for the merging of  Social Anthropology and Concepts in Health papers - in Occupational Therapy.
We had a face to face meeting that involved me, Alexa (course coordinator for Concepts in Health), Karen – Bachelors coordinator and Merrolee – Academic Leader Postgraduate Programme. One area we discussed is the logistics of fitting these two papers together. Alexa pointed out that students in her course read a biography to gain an in-depth understanding of people living with disabilities and work on this throughout the semester. We are still unsure how this part of the course can work in the new merged course so we started to suggest some alternative ways to engage students in the area of disabilities. Merrolee later emailed us all about using blogs….

From: Merrolee Penman
Sent: Friday, 18 May 2012 10:19 a.m.
To: Alexa Andrew; Gina Huakau; Karen Blackwood
Subject: blogs versus biographies

Hi guys
I know that the biography was an important way of helping students to gain insights into people living with health issues.. I wondered whether it is also useful to start thinking about blogs… as these also give real insight into the daily issues of living with a disability…
Here is an example a Uni of Salford student had found for her first year viva..
If you want to check what she says on FB KB…  here is the link:
look at recent posts and Clare Murphy Jackson!

Merrolee Penman, MA(Educ), DipTeach(Tert), NZROT
Academic Leader Postgraduate Programmes
School of Occupational Therapy
Otago Polytechnic

From: Alexa Andrew
Sent: Monday, 21 May 2012 9:08 a.m.
To: Merrolee Penman; Gina Huakau; Karen Blackwood
Subject: RE: blogs versus biographies

Hi Merrolee,
Thanks for the thought but there are a couple of other reasons I don’t want to go the technology way – most people don’t read well on a computer screen but more importantly I think being forced to read a book is really good for the students – most of them enjoy the experience and the indepth insite they get from a book and it reminds them of an important leisure activity that most do not participate in. Alexa

RE: blogs versus biographies
Merrolee Penman
Sent:            Monday, 21 May 2012 9:10 a.m.
To:                Alexa Andrew; Gina Huakau; Karen Blackwood

True.. . but they can’t engage with the biographer.. whereas (and this would mean they would need to be checked too to ensure it was a blog with sufficient depth and perhaps history of postings).. they can with a blogger.. so they in theory could be asking the blogger to perhaps expand on an experience etc… 
 It was just a thought really as you have to look at the number of undirected supervised hours and the time it takes to read a biography 

It’s an interesting point as both the book and blogs have strengths and I wonder if we can look at a more flexible approach by offering different options for students to gain in-depth perspective/understanding of people living with disabilities?

Overall I think the ‘big’ picture is coming together for the merged courses, however we do need some time to sit down and work out details. Both Alexa and myself have recently re-written both of our courses- so now is the opportune time to re-visit and see what works and what doesn’t. We have been allocated some time in Semester 2 to do this, but realistically it probably won’t happen for another couple of months due to our teaching commitments during this time. I’m sure Karen will be keeping us on task!


  1. I like the idea of students' looking for blog biographies. It is more of an immediate and lived experience they will be accessing, and will be particularly valuable for their learning if they interact with the authors. All the students have to learn online anyway so why not enhance their digital information skills at the same time.

    If they also want to access an autobiography in a book to extend their knowledge they could do this as well. Some students may prefer to access an electronic book or Google books. And Youtube videos could also be helpful to assist their understanding.

    I believe they should be given a choice in the media they access. As I have said in another post, it is what they do with the information that is important - isn't analysis of information and synthesis of new knowledge where the learning begins - not just reading?

  2. Yes these are valid comments- and we'll work our way through these as we do the re-write. The book idea that Alexa is talking about is that each week people share what they are reading, so it'll be about how poeple can do this by using a blog, I'm sure there is a way but it's just coming up with a strategy that we're all happy with. Thanks Gina