Spinning a Northern Web: Women Using Information and Communication Technology to Network for Health and Wellness

By:
Christina McLennan,
Prof. Dawn E. Hemingway,
Dr. Gerard Bellefeuille
To add a paper, Login.

This paper presents on a recent case study which explored the innovative use of information and communication technology (ICT) to promote women’s health concerns in northern, rural and remote communities in British Columbia, Canada. The setting for the study was a web-based constructivist learning environment that sought to build community by strengthening connections amongst women across the North to collectively engage in information sharing, informal education, and joint social and health-related research and policy initiatives. This virtual community of women made use of ICT as a means to overcome geographic isolation through the utilization of an email news distribution list, a publicly accessible website and a password protected Online Gathering Space supported through WebCT – a distributive learning tool used to provide post-secondary off-campus education. Through their experience using the network’s online components, study participants offer an understanding of what is practical and meaningful for women using ICT and provide an account of what supports and prevents their access to and participation in the network. Findings suggest that through encountering supportive relationships which build on the dynamics of collaboration and community building leading to concrete action, women will become engaged in using ICT and sustaining the network and the virtual community. Findings also suggest that ICT can greatly enhance the ability of social workers and other health care professionals to reach out to diverse communities in influencing and developing social and health policy and service delivery in northern, rural and remote communities.


Keywords: Women, ICT, Networking, Health Policy, Northern/Rural and Remote, Virtual Community-Building
Stream: Technology in Community
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: Spinning a Northern Web


Christina McLennan

Assistant Professor, College of Arts, Social and Health Sciences
Social Work Program, University of Northern British Columbia

Canada

Christina McLennan is an Assistant Professor and Field Education Director with the Social Work Program at the University of Northern British Columbia. Christina’s teaching and research interests include the utilization of information and communication technology in social work education and social work policy and practice; disability issues and women’s equality. She is also involved in research and community development activities involving women’s health in northern, rural and remote communities. In addition, Christina coordinates the Women North Network, a primarily internet-based network of women from British Columbia, working to address the social determinants of women’s health and health and social policy in northern, rural and remote communities.

Prof. Dawn E. Hemingway

Assistant Professor, College of Arts, Social and Health Sciences
Social Work Program, University of Northern British Columbia

Canada

Dawn Hemingway is an Assistant Professor in the Social Work Program at the University of Northern British Columbia with teaching and research interests that include community organizing, capacity-building and research, social policy development and northern/remote health and quality of life. She has an extensive history and involvement with coalition and network building in northern communities. Recent publications include Living North of 65 years: A Community Process to Hear the Voices of the Northern Seniors and Informal Learning Across the North: Women Connecting to Build Healthy Northern Communities.

Dr. Gerard Bellefeuille

Assistant Professor, College of Arts, Social and Health Sciences
Social Work Program, University of Northern British Columbia

Canada

Gerard Bellefeuille is an Assistant Social Work Professor at the University of Northern British Columbia. Before arriving at UNBC in August of 2001, Gerard spent over twenty years working in the human services field advocating and facilitating a shift in ‘purpose’ towards community wellness and building a community-based learning governance approach in support of this new direction. He authored two books entitled, Breaking the Rules: Transforming Governance in Social Services and All Together Now: Creating a Social Capital Mosaic. Gerard has an extensive research background dealing with issues of community governance, social capital, organizational development, technology dependent children, and computer-mediated learning.

Ref: T06P0244