Using RSS Feeds for Case Study Analysis in Bioethics
In our bioethics course we had been using static case studies to bring out the specific ethical reasoning applications during the course. Both the students and instructors felt that the case studies often seemed contrived and were not relevant to current technology or issues. To that end, we replaced the static case studies with an RSS feed link to a health news area of the Washington Post. The students are asked to review the RSS feed and select a current article/case that illustrates the application of the concept of the current unit. For instance, they may be asked to pick an article that illustrates the application of utilitarian reasoning in the case that is portrayed. They are to identify the article, provide a summary and an analysis on how ethical reasoning was used. This is posted to a discussion board where other students will read and respond.
The benefits of this change have been great - First, a case currently in the media cannot be considered irrelevant as easily. Second, since students have a choice, responses do not become repetitive as several articles/cases will be covered in the discussion area. The main learning objective is still being met as the students apply the ethical reasoning to the current case. And we provide a valuable resource for our students (mostly already working health care professionals) to current, trends, information and issues within their profession.