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Blended learning

Learners can create and co-create content, share content and collaborate much more easily through tools such as blogs, wikis, social bookmarking services, multimedia sharing services and social networking spaces (Anderson, 2007), see table 1. Tools such as Evernote and Google Docs can be used to facilitate collaborative note-taking. Concept or mind mapping tools (such as Mindmeister™) can also be used by learners as an alternative to text-based note-taking.


Table 1: Web 2.0 Services and Applications





An online personal journal or web log

Micro Blog

A service for sending short messages or multimedia content such as images or videos


A collaboratively authored website

Social Bookmarking

A system for storing bookmarks on a remote server and to share bookmarks with other users of the system

Video/Audio Sharing

Services that facilitate the storage and sharing of video and audio content

Image Sharing

Services that support the storage and distribution of photographs, images and other multimedia resources

Social Networking

Professional and social networking sites that facilitate meeting people, finding like minds and collaboration

Writing Tools

Create and share notes and documents

Chart and Diagram Tools

Create and share charts, mind maps and other visual diagrams

Presentation Tools

Create, store and share online presentations

Curation Tools

Tools which facilitate the selection, organisation and publication of resource repositories

Citation Tools

Tools to collect, organise and manage information resources

RSS Readers

Applications which aggregate syndicated web content such as blog posts, podcasts and news articles



A study by Mistry (2011) evaluated the use of Twitter to facilitate discussion on clinical scenarios. The learners were required to watch the clinical scenario videos either asynchronously (on a BSc Critical Care programme) or within the classroom (Pre-registration Nursing programme). The learners were required to tweet about the evolving patient condition, clinical decision points or to respond to questions. The learners reported that tweeting facilitated reflection and discussion which reinforced their learning.

We might assume that learners who have grown up in the digital age would be very confident and competent in engaging with e-learning activities. However ’not all learners are confident users of the wide range of learning technologies available, and there is an increasing literature that highlights the challenges for learners (many of which are similar to those identified by clinical teachers)’ (Morris and McKimm, 2009). Educators should not make assumptions about device ownership and internet access to prevent excluding learners. In addition, if learners are required to use third party tools they should be adequately informed of the terms when signing up for third party systems and how to protect their anonymity or content if required. Also, their responsibilities and expectations should be clarified regarding all online activity and online behaviour through an acceptable use policy. This is particularly important for health professionals and students to protect data and maintain patient confidentiality.

Thinking point

Which of the tools above do you need to learn more about in order to use these in your own teaching?

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