Professional Education and the World Wide Web In Nursing Education

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World Wide Web In Nursing Education and  Professional Education

Professional Education and the World Wide Web In Nursing Education

Professional Education and the World Wide Web,Social Media or Web 2.0 In Nursing Education,Blogs and Nursing Education,Wikis and Nursing Education.

Professional Education and the World Wide Web

    The World Wide Web provides unlimited resources for nurses to use in practice and in professional education and development. Websites provide access to bibliographic databases, continuing education, online journals, and resources for patient teaching and professional practice. Sites established by nursing organizations and publishing companies serve as resource centers where nurses can find a wide range of information and services addressing any number of educational needs.

    Many of the informational sites on the World Wide Web provide both consumer and professional education. Some websites include links on the home page directing users to either consumer or healthcare professional resources. Other sites do not attempt to discriminate and allow users to decide whether consumer material or professional literature is more appropriate to their needs.

    It is impossible to list all the educational opportunities for professionals found on the World Wide Web. The Web is constantly changing, with new sites being added and others being removed daily.  

Social Media or Web 2.0 In Nursing Education

    Web 2.0, also known as social networking, has made available a wide array of communication formats for people with similar interests to come together to exchange ideas and share information. These forums are collectively referred to as social media, which is defined as “Internet sites and applications that allow users to create, share, edit and interact with online content” (Gagnon & Sabus, 2015, p. 407). 

    Owing to their quick communication and engaging formats, social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn have experienced dramatic growth in their use and popularity in recent years. In 2005, only about 7% of Americans participated in social media. In 2015, that number grew to 65% or two thirds of adults living in the United States (Perrin, 2015). 

    Social media has proven to be a powerful force to educate and empower people, to quickly send messages to a worldwide audience, to gather information about public perceptions of health issues, and, in some cases, to collaborate with other users in real time (Norton & Strauss, 2013; Thackery, Neiger, Smith, & Van Wagenen, 2012; Ventola, 2014). Social media in combination with the growth of mobile technology has changed the way people seek and find health-related information. 

    Consider the following: Prior to social media, a woman requiring a hysterectomy relied on her healthcare provider for health teaching and a referral to a surgeon. She most likely talked with a small group of friends about their experiences with the procedure. 

With social media, a woman can find online reviews of area surgeons and area hospitals, go to YouTube to watch the procedure being suggested, and go to a social media site like for information and support for everything from diagnosis and treatment to recovery . You can access this information anywhere, anytime using your phone, tablet, or laptop.

    This example illustrates the growth and power of social media in health care. A recent study found that in the United States alone, over 1,600 hospitals were actively managing over 6,500 social media sites such as Facebook and YouTube (Mayo Clinic, 2017a). The Mayo Clinic has taken a leadership role in supporting the use of social media by healthcare professionals and organizations. 

    In 2010, the Mayo Clinic established the Center for social media to improve health care through the use of this medium. Since that time, the center's website has grown to include blogs, webinars, and discussions where healthcare professionals explore issues and best practices in the use of social media. Most recently, the center has created a certification course in the use of social media for health care (Mayo Clinic, 2017b).

    Social media provides an effective set of tools that can be used by the nurse to educate healthcare consumers, nursing staff, and nursing students. Social media also provides a means for networking and professional development among nurses and other healthcare professionals (K. Anderson, 2012; PF Anderson, 2012). Several of the more common forms of social media are addressed in this section.

Blogs and Nursing Education

    First developed in the late 1990s, blogs (Web logs) are an increasingly popular mechanism for individuals to share information and experiences related to a given topic. Although sometimes referred to as web diaries, blogs are much more than that; for example, they may include images, media objects, and links that allow for public responses (Knapp, 2017; Maag, 2005). 

    Blog topics tend to follow mainstream news and a review of active blogs revealed that in any given week, approximately 2% focused on health care (Pew Research Center, 2011). Blog entries are typically viewed in reverse chronological order (most recent first) and are easy to follow. Other common features include archives, a blogroll (list of recommended blogs), and a reader comment section (Miller & Pole, 2010).

    The number of blogs available on the Web has increased dramatically in recent years. A decade ago, the Pew Internet and American Life Project (Lenhart & Fox, 2006) reported that approximately 12 million Americans had created a blog and another 57 million read blogs on the World Wide Web. In 2015, the number of Americans who updated a blog at least once per month in the United States reached 28.2 million, which is projected to rise to31.7 million by 2020 (Statista, 2017). 

    Specific to health care, in 2011 about 35% of Internet users in the United States reported reading someone else's commentary on a healthcare issue or a blog or similar application, and another 4% posted comments or questions on a blog (Fox, 2011). Users can search for blogs with a focused command, for example, “breast cancer blogs,” on a search engine such as Google. Blogs also can be found on blog-focused directories such as “” or “”

    Health focused blogs on the Web cover a wide range of topics. Many tell the story of the creator's experience with a given disease or treatment. For example, a Google search for blogs on breast cancer revealed several hundred individual breast cancer-related blogs. These blogs covered everything from the stories of cancer survivors and family experiences to information based blogs describing various breast cancer treatments. 

    Other blogs are written by healthcare professionals with stories and commentary on health-related issues (Lippincott Nursing Education, 2017; Nurse Journal, 2014). A review by Buis and Carpenter (2009) of 398 blog posts also found that commentary on external media-for example, health-related books and newspaper articles is another common topic in postings. 

    Given the growing popularity of blogs, it is reasonable to assume that healthcare consumers, particularly young people, might turn to blogs for health related information and support. As for demographics on blogging, 53.3% of bloggers are between the ages of 21 and 35 years, and the difference among the genders is balanced (50.9% women, 49.1% men) this suggests a gender neutral environment for Internet users ( Sysomos , 2010), and most use a pseudonym rather than their own name. 

    Other blogs, however, are written by health professionals and by consumers who have a story to tell (Buis & Carpenter, 2009). For this reason, clients who are getting information from blogs must be taught the importance of evaluating the credentials of the author as well as the content of the blog.

    Because of the ease of use and the popularity of this form of electronic communication, blogs remain an effective way to provide consumers with health-related information. As with other forms of communication, nurses who use blogs to teach must implement a plan for regular maintenance and updating of the site. Furthermore, given the time commitment required. nurses should regularly evaluate the use, readership, and impact of the blog (Adams, 2011; Knapp, 2017). 

Wikis and Nursing Education

    Another form of online communication is a wiki. The term wiki, which means quick in Hawaiian, is a website that allows multiple users to come together to collaboratively write and edit the content and structure of a collection of webpages ( LeBar , 2017). In comparison to blogs, wikis are more social in their construction. Such a collection is easily expanded, and all users can add to, edit, and remove content. Wikipedia ( is one of the best-known wikis.

    Wikis are asynchronous, meaning that they allow users to work in concert with one another but not necessarily simultaneously. Consequently, authors may contribute to the webpages at their individual convenience. 

    Wikis also have the capacity to hold multimedia content such as text, videos, audio, and photographs (Erardi & Hartmann, 2008), making them a potentially exciting and engaging source of information. Participants also can link to other content or to media by way of hyperlinks ( LeBar , 2017). 

    Health related wikis are promising tools for consumer education (Boulos, Maramba, & Wheeler, 2006; Boulos & Wheeler, 2007). For example, WikiMd ( is a free medical encyclopedia moderated by health professionals. Health consumers can go to WikiMD to find interesting and up-to-date information on health, weight loss, and wellness from a variety of perspectives. 

    So, wikis are effective tools for professional education. In the classroom, educators are using wikis to encourage group collaboration and sharing of ideas on a given topic ( Trocky & Buckley, 2016). 0/12Wikis can be either open to the public or accessible to only a select group. 

    In the open version of a wiki, anyone can access the information posted on the webpages. A closed wiki can be used for a specific community to develop a certain resource. For example, a nursing professor might set up a wiki for her online students to develop a resource manual related to building evidence based practice in a nurse run clinic.

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