Facilitating Practioner Networks
Do weblogs have a role in promoting collaborative learnining in HIA?
Ben Harris-Roxas, Pa...
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Facilitating Practioner Networks: Do weblogs have a role in promoting collaborative learnining in HIA?

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Poster for the IAIA conference in Stavanger in 2006. The information seems dated now, but blogs were still a relatively new platform back then.

The blog is still going strong:
http://healthimpactassessment.blogspot.com

Published in: Health & Medicine
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Facilitating Practioner Networks: Do weblogs have a role in promoting collaborative learnining in HIA?

  1. 1. Facilitating Practioner Networks Do weblogs have a role in promoting collaborative learnining in HIA? Ben Harris-Roxas, Patrick Harris, Lynn Kemp, Elizabeth Harris Sample Post 1 Reporting Research, Promoting Discussion Sample Post 2 Canvassing Practical Concerns CENTRE FOR HEALTH EQUITY TRAINING, RESEARCH & EVALUTION HIA Connect Blog http://chetre.med.unsw.edu.au/hia Glossary blogs Blogs, or weblogs, are regularly updated websites, displaying the newest information at the top. A blog usually combines text, images and links to other websites related to its topic. posts Posts are the articles that make up blogs. They typ- ically use a conversational style. commenting Blogs allow users to comment on posts, meaning that visitors can share their opinions and debate issues raised. feeds Feeds allow blog users to stay up to date with blog content without having to visit the blog. Software known as feed or news aggregators automatically download the RSS or Atom files that make up the feed. multiple authors Blogs can have multiple authors, with each author offering differing persepctives and areas of expertise. IntroductionThe New South Wales Health Impact Assessment Project (CHETRE 2006) seeks to buid capacity across government to undertake health impact assessment (HIA). Though a HIA website and e-newsletter were developed early in the project, a need was identified for an additional mechanism to enable commun- ication and discussion between the growing body of HIA practitioners in New South Wales, Australia and internationally. Other Ireland Denmark Spain United Kingdom Canada USA Australia References Bachnik W, Szymczyk S, Leszcznksi P, Podsiadlo R et al. Quantitive and sociological analysis of blog networks, Acta Physica Polonica B 36(10): 3179-3191, 2005. th-www.if.uj.edu.pl/acta/vol36/pdf/v36p3179.pdf CHETRE. NSW Health Impact Assessment Project, Centre for Health Equity Training, Research and Evaluation, accessed 17 March 2006. chetre.med.unsw.edu.au/hia/nsw_hia_project.htm Kahn R, Kellner D. New Media and Internet Activism: From the 'Battle of Seattle' to blogging, New Media & Society 6(1): 87-95, 2004. Nardi B, Schiano D, Gumbrecht M, Swartz L. Why We Blog, Communications of the ACM 47(12): 41-46, 2004. Null C. No Longer Safe for Work: Blogs, Wired News 24 October 2005, accessed 17 march 2006. www.wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,69298,00.html Schwartz J. If You Want to Lead, Blog, Harvard Business Review 83(11): 30, 2005. Authors’ Affiliation Centre for Health Equity Training, Research & Evaluation, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia LMB 7103, Liverpool BC NSW 1871, AUSTRALIA web: www.chetre.med.unsw.edu.au/hia email: b.harris-roxas@unsw.edu.au What We DidWe established a weblog, or blog, to facilitate dialog between HIA practitioners. Blogs are distinct from traditional websites in that they facilitate regular updating, allowing any reader to comment on posts and can accommodate a large number of contrib- uting authors. What We FoundWe identified a number of ways in which blogs could be used for HIA-related purposes: 1. Individuals using blogs to document and share their personal experience of undertaking HIA, for cathartic or reflective purposes (Kahn & Kellner 2004); 2. Organisations using blogs to share information within organisations, comment on topical or tech- nical issues and to showcase their HIA experience to a wider audience (Schwartz 2005); and 3. Practitioner networks using blogs to share practical tips, information and tacit knowledge, as is the case with the HIA Connect Blog (Nardi et al 2004). Readership by Country Challenges changing the way people use the net The process of commenting on posts represents a considerable departure from the traditional, passive model of web use. Despite having a number of regular visitors we have experienced difficulty in encouraging users to comment on the issues raised. If blogs are to genuinely operate as a tool for practitioner networks rather than simply being sources of information it is crucial that this hurdle be overcome. This problem doesn't have a clear-cut solution. Attitudes to blog use may change incrementally and generationally, however it is also important to write posts that encourage comments and to take the time to acknowledge and respond to comments that are made. digital divide issues Effective blog use requires internet access and a higher than average level of comfort using the web, assumptions that may exclude many people within the HIA field and the community at large. It is important to recognise this as a major drawback of using blogs; they should only be utilised as an adjunct to, rather than a substitute for, other network-promoting activities. from readers to authors If a blog is to maintain a reasonably constant rate of updating it requires a number of contributing authors. To date we have had difficulty finding other HIA practitioners with an interest in becoming authors, though this remains a major goal and reflects our desire to build capacity and leadership around HIA. censorship To further complicate issues involved in using blogs an increas- ing number of servers are blocking access to them (Null 2005). This is primarily being done to limit the amount of what is seen as workplace procrastination, though a number of organisations have stated that they are blocking access in an effort to prevent sensitive information being posted on the web by employees. So What?Blogs are not a panacea. They are more redimentary in design than newsletters, more labour intensive than email listservs and less engaging than conferences. Blogs do however represent a useful addition to these approaches for promoting interaction between groups or networks. Blogs have the capacity to operate as network hubs (Bachnik et al 2005), linking a number of activities. This has obvious relevance beyond HIA to other impact assessment and professional networks, allowing disparate and potentially far- flung practitioner networks to exchange ideas and experience. Sample Post 3 Raising Issues

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