This week, I had the pleasure of viewing several presentations provided by the MALAT Virtual Symposium. As I began to watch the presentations, I quickly learned that technology can be integrated into multiple sectors to enhance and improve learning outcomes. In addition, it became evident that technology is not without its shortcomings, causing me to take a reflective pause and examine the purpose and use of technology as a learning tool.  

     David Cormier’s presentation “Intentional Messiness of Online Communication” (2017) piqued my interest as he discussed the value of open education resources and open content as it contributes to learning. Today’s growth in technology and access to information allows the use of open content to widen one’s learning in a self-directed approach. In an interesting comparison of open learning to the growth of a weed, Cormier (2017) explains that access to open content can lead to rhizomatic learning, “a method of reproduction capable of spreading and growing on its own, bounded by the limits of its habitat.” (Cormier, 2017, 44:50). If open content has the potential to elicit drastic growth in one’s learning, what implications would this have on the learner if the quality of information was created by a non-credible source? 

   This led me to take a closer look at the concept of open learning through the lens of a Registered Kinesiologist. Today, we can access the internet and search for health-related information in place of seeking advice from a health care professional. The challenge that exists is how can one determine whether the content is credible and supported by evidence-based research? The web provides access to a wide variety of information containing peer-reviewed content delivered by qualified professionals, however, it also contains unverified and unfounded claims and testimonials based on one’s personal experiences. While sharing experiences can be an informative platform for learning, it can also be risky and problematic as one’s personal experiences may not necessarily be the same for all. So how can one determine whether information found on the internet is credible content?

   YouTube, is a popular forum that provides a wide range of online information and is often sought for health-related topics such as exercise, weight loss and nutrition. Over the years, I have worked with clients who follow the latest exercise trends and weight loss fads produced by popular social media influencers and have witnessed the effects of low-quality, unsafe content on one’s health. A study completed by Bopp et al. (2019) examined the quality of fitness videos found on YouTube and confirmed that many content creators lack references and professional qualifications. The researchers also advise that “developers and uploaders of YouTube videos…should source their information and be more transparent with their credentials via disclaimers espousing the adherence to the HONcode. (Bopp et al. 2019, pg. 10). 

As a Kinesiologist who has seen the effects of unfounded health-promoting content in the digital world, I support Bopp et al (2019) recommendation to seek content that is supported by evidence-based research and/or presented by accredited industry professionals.  Select content that includes the creator’s professional qualifications, as well as references as this, will assist in selecting credible, safe and health-promoting content. 

 

Bopp, T., Vadeboncoeur, J. D., Stellefson, M., & Weinsz, M. (2019). Moving beyond the gym: a content analysis of youtube as an information resource for physical literacy.International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health,16(18). https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16183335 

Cormier, D. (2017, April 18). Intentional messiness of online communities. [Webinar]. Royal Roads University MALAT Virtual Symposium.  https://malat-coursesite.royalroads.ca/lrnt521/dave-cormier-virtual-symposium-presentation/