Friday, May 29, 2009

eMentoring workshops

Here is the plan for delivering information about eMentoring as part of the eMentoring project I am coordinating for Aged Care Queensland, which is funded by the Dept. of Health and Aging.

Online (via Elluminate)

Session One (One hour) What is mentoring?
1. How to use various functions in Elluminate.
2. Introductions.
3. What is mentoring? - brain storm on white board
4. How can mentoring be achieved in online environment
5. What do you want to achieve in the eMentoring program?

Session Two (One hour) How to be a mentor or mentee.
1. How to use various functions in Elluminate.
2. Introductions.
3. What makes an effective mentor? - brainstorm and discussion approach
4. How you can work well with your mentor/mentee in online environment.
5. Phases of the mentoring relationship - presentation and discussion.
  • How to deal with conflict.
  • How to end the relationship.
Brisbane 28th May What is mentoring? One and a half hours.
1. Introductions.
2. What is mentoring? - brainstorm and discussion
3. Tello stories of experiences of mentoring in the past - what lessons did you learn that you can take into this eMentoring project.
4. How can mentoring be achieved in online environment
5. What do you want to achieve in the eMentoring program?

Longreach 2nd June What is mentoring? Three hours

1. Introductions.
2. What is mentoring? - brainstorm and discussion.
3. Tell stories of experiences of mentoring in the past - what lessons did you learn that you can take into this eMentoring project.
4. How can mentoring be achieved in online environment
5. What do you want to achieve in the eMentoring program?
6. What makes an effective mentor? - brainstorm and discussion approach
7. How you can work well with your mentor/mentee in online environment.
8. Phases of the mentoring relationship - presentation and discussion.
  • How to deal with conflict.
  • How to end the relationship.
I would like to acknowledge how helpful Anne Rolfe has been by providing so much useful information about mentoring on her website: Mentoring Works

Image: 'Lua and Ling' _Xti_

Thursday, May 28, 2009

eMentoring computer skills workshop

Image: 'underneath a star' jaeWALK

This is the program for the computer skills workshops which aims to prepare people for eMentoring.

Aim of the workshop
To introduce people to various social media tools and resources that can used for communicating with their mentor or mentee.
  • Think how you are going to monitor all your different online accounts.
  • Think about your online profile, how you want to brand yourself or appear online.
Image: 'blue daisy' *L*u*z*a* return to nature

Synchronous communication

Skype - free calls to anyone in the world who has Skype connection. Can also be used to make free calls to landlines. Can use instant message, voice and video communication.
  • Sign up for Skype account.
  • Add workshop participants to your contacts list.
  • Search for a friend or colleague and add to contact list.
  • Send a text message to a contact.
  • Call someone on your contact list.
Elluminate - free Vroom for up to three people.
  • Sign up for free Vroom.
  • Invite a workshop participant to join you in your room.
  • Send a text message to the other person.
  • Use the audio function and talk to the other person.
  • Write a message on the whiteboard for the other person.
Image: 'Life lessons' lepiaf.geo

Collaboration tools

Google Documents - collaborate and work on a document, presentation or spreadsheet.
  • Make a Google account.
  • Make a new document.
  • Share it with other workshop participants.
  • Edit your document.
  • Publish as web page.
Doodle - schedule meetings and quick surveys.
  • Schedule your next meeting with your mentee or mentor.

Image: 'Christmas #1' kevindooley

Finding and sharing information

YouTube - web site for sharing videos
  • Look for a video on how to use Skype, Elluminate or Google Documents.
  • Look for a video about topics of interest to you.
  • Look for a video related to provision of aged or community care services.
  • Look for a video about mentoring.
Slideshare - web site for sharing PowerPoint presentation.
  • Look for a presentation about topics of interest to you.
  • Look for a presentation related to provision of aged or community care services.
  • Look for a presentation about mentoring.
Flickr - website for photo sharing.

Image: 'Blue is my color' Edgar Barany

Some resources and sites of interest

Evaluation of workshop: Please complete this evaluation form.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Mentoring indigenous Australians

A couple of days ago I wrote about the feedback I have received about eMentoring and indigenous and Torres Strait people in Australia. I have been considering these issues for the eMentoring program I am running for Aged Care Queensland, and also for the Flexible Learning Course I am taking at the moment.

I have come across an excellent website called Mentoring employers and indigenous trainees to enhance retention. There's heaps of great information so I will not regurgitate it all here. But I was struck by two things.

Values and beliefs?
The first thing is a sentence about values and beliefs.

Awareness, tolerance, and respect for the values of others are essential to establishing a successful mentoring relationship.

Everyone comes to the mentor/Australian Apprentice relationship valuing certain behaviours and ideals. As individuals, we are aware of some but not all of our values. As a first step, mentors should, themselves, recognise the values that are most important to them.

In order for me to develop and design flexible mentoring or education programs for people who are culturally different from myself, I must have an understanding of who I am.

A POM down-under
The older I get the more I am aware of my culture, and I identify very strongly with the anglo-saxon English background and history. But it's the history of England I identify with, and the land. I come from many generations of English farmers and I am very proud to have my roots in the West Country.

At the same time, I am also a Kiwi, and that has become all the more evident to me since I moved to Brisbane for the last few months. I love to identify with the liberal, free-thinking attitudes that I think characterize New Zealand. And I believe I am a lot less judgmental and conservation in my attitudes since I left England. So I think I am a real mix of cultural differences - how I was born and what I have become.

How does that affect my work as an educator?
Hopefully, it helps to me see that everyone has very different backgrounds and roads that they have traveled to get to the point where they are at. In terms of education flexibility, being aware of the cultural influences on people underpins design so that education meets individual needs. This isn't just in terms of the content we provide, but also being mindful of the different ways people learn. So it is not fitting people to education courses and processes, but rather fitting the courses and processes to fit the people.

Supporting indgenous people in a mentoring program
The second aspect of the website that struck me was the practical advice that was given about running a mentoring program for indigenous people. Whilst this information is directed at mentoring programs, it is just as relevant for more formal education courses.

It is likely that Indigenous Australian Apprentices will require support in the:

Recruitment stage - they may not be adequately prepared for direct entry into a structured training programme.
Formal training stage - they may have difficulty with aspects of the learning.
Work-based stage - they may require help in adjusting to the requirements of regular attendance and establishing effective working relationships.
Transition from training to an ongoing working role - they may need to explore and revise their attitudes and values associated with work, careers and financial security.

The message to me continues to be that people need support, edication, mentoring, professional development, call it what you will, in an individualised way - which to me is at the heart of flexible learning.

Image: 'Beach Access' G a r r y

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Flexible learning, eMentoring, cultural differences and sustainability

Flexible learning has been a theme for me this week as I have been progressing with my eMentoring project and also thinking about the Flexible Learning Course I am taking at the moment. One aspect we have been asked to consider is cultural inclusiveness. How accessible is education to people of different cultures and how can educational services be improved?

eMentoring and indigenous and Torres Straits people
To cut a long story short, one of the remits of the eMentoring project I am managing for Aged Care Queensland (funded by the Dept. of Health and Aging) is to recruit indigenous and Torres Straits people as eMentors and eMentees. This is because they are identified as a group of people who require support in the workplace, but do not get it as much as they should. eMentoring is part of an ongoing strategy to recruit and retain more indigenous and Torres Strait people in the aged care workforce.

However as yet, I have been unable to recruit any one from that cultural group into the project.

Barriers to eMentoring
I went to Cairns this week and spoke to several people involved with providing education and employment services to indigenous and Torres Strait people and asked them why they thought the eMentoring project has not attracted participants from that cultural group. The main issues were lack of access to the Internet, especially in remote areas such as Thursday Isalnd. Internet coverage is very unreliable in rural/remote areas. Lack of computer skills was one of the other main issues.

Cultural considerations

But things were a little more complex than the usual lack of access and skills. Other feedback I receieved was:
  • Indigenous people are very unlikely to engage with any form of electronic communication because they much prefer face-to-face communication;
  • Building a rapport and feeling of trust is vital when working with indigenous people -this would be very difficult with computer-mediated communication (CMC);
  • Literacy levels are very low in indigenous communities so text-based communication would be problematic;
  • Communication tools such as video and audio would not engage indigenous learners because of the complexity of the technology;
  • People would not want the shame of 'failing' if they could not get their heads around eMentoring;
  • Partners could put up barriers because of jealousy, especially if the mentors/mentees were of the opposite sex;
  • The lack of privacy due to living in a close community could prevent people using community computers.
Need for mentoring
Having said all that, the people I spoke to emphasized the great need for mentoring, especially for indigenous people entering the workforce or moving to a new job. It was felt that face-to-face mentoring was by far the most desirable mode of delivery. And there would need to be intensive work done to build rapport and trust (5-6 meetings are required before trust begins to form), especially when the indigenous person begins a new job or education program.

Making assumptions
I am not altogether sold on the idea that indigenous people would not engage with video or audio technology. If it was provided and made very easy to use, people may find it a much more user-friendly mode of communication, especially as their culture is of oral communication.

Somehow I feel very uncomfortable with the feedback I received. It felt to me as if indigenous people are being prevented from having the opportunities to engage with technology because a number of assumptions have been made. Sure, we need to pay considerable attention to the feedback I have discussed, and make sure people get the face-to-face support and education they need. Yet at the same time, I also think we should do all we can to provide opportunities for online learning and networking for those who are interested. If we do not provide alternative modes for learning, how can people say whether they like them or not?

I have become more and more convinced that small rural communities need to work together to provide access to computers and Internet, as well as training. As educators, we need to think about how we can hook into local libraries, schools and learning networks and collaborate to provide education opportunities to the wider community. So, for example, if I go to Chinchilla to provide a blogging workshop to staff in aged care I should make sure it is open to the whole community. This increases flexibility of learning, and it also goes some way to address the issue of sustainability.

This may mean that we have to do things for 'free'
which could prove to be a stumbling block for administrators and accountants. But I truly believe that thinking about the 'greater good' is one way of dealing with flexibility and sustainability in education.

I would love to hear from anyone involved in providing education to indigenous communities. What would be your advice to me about how I can engage indigenous people in my eMentoring project?

My experiences of flexible learning

I attended an online discussion about flexible learning last week as part of the Flexible Learning Course I am taking. And it came to me that it would be useful for me to reflect on my own experiences of flexible learning as a student before I jumped in with deciding what other people want or should have.

Choosing my own project

My first experience of flexible learning was when I was studying for my undergraduate honors degree in health studies back in the late 1990s. I was able to choose to write up a project that I had carried out, as opposed to taking a set paper/course.

The advantage of this was that I was able to incorporate work that I was already doing into my course, which I believe is a vital strategy for flexible learning. It saved me time, and allowed me to think about work that meant something to me, as opposed to inflecting assessment on me that had no value to me.

Support and criteria
But I didn't do very well for the assessment ie in the writing up of the project. The project itself was extremely successful, but I didn't score a very high grade when I wrote it up because I did not properly address the criteria of the assessment.

I have always thought since that experience, that it is all well and good giving students choice, and 'allowing' them to do their own thing or make up their up assessment. But educators must support students when they take that approach to assessment, ensuring the students properly understand what outcomes they need to achieve and how the outcomes relate to their own particular project.

If you do not do that, I believe you set students up for failure.

Giving students freedom
I had a similar experience of flexible learning last year when I did the Design and Construction Course. Again, I did not quite follow the prescripted pathway of the course, but was encouraged to do my own exploration, and complete assessments that suited my own learning context.

This time, my experience was very positive. I was very well supported by the course outline, with lots of guidance and help with how I could do what I wanted to do yet meet the course outcomes. The result was that I learned a lot, passed the course and found the whole experience to be an extremely positive and constructive one. The assessments met my own personal needs as opposed to being there for the sake of it, causing me grief and making me do something that has absolutely no relevance to my learning.

Relevance of assessment
I'll be the first to admit that there are plenty of times that educators give students assessments that seem to have no relevance to the student at the time. What they actually doing is building a foundation for the student to go on with in the future. And there are other times when the student does not understand that the assessment has relevance for the future, not necessarily for the 'here and now' ie students lack the 'big picture' that the educators can see. So the student has to 'trust the process'- as I was always very fond of saying to my undergraduate midwifery students.

But as educators, I think it is vital that we look at our assessments and check out their appropriateness and relevance. Are we making student take assessments for the sake of it? What do the assessments add to the students' learning? How can the assessments be made 'flexible' to suit individual students' needs within the constraints of mandated course outcomes?

Can you think of an example of a course you took part in that was flexible and tailored to your individual learning needs? What aspect of the course did you like and what aspect did not work for you?

Image: 'zone5' SideLong

How to find party dresses in Second Life

There are many places in Second Life where you can go and find new clothes that are free. But finding these places can be difficult when you are a newbie. And even when you get to a store, it can be a little intimidating finding your way around and knowing how to change into the new clothes.

One place you can go is Performance Island which is affiliated to Coventry University. Once you get there, you will find a choice of some fabulous free party dresses which you can have. Unfortunately there are no dress suits for you chaps, but don't let that stop you having fun!

How to get there

1. Teleport to Performance Island:

2. Follow the sign to "Ladies Dance Wear"

Choose a dress

3. Click onto the dress you would like to try on.

4. Click onto "buy" (don't worry, although it says "buy", the dresses are free and you do not need any money). The dress will be saved in your inventory.

Putting on your dress

5. Go to your inventory on bottom right hand corner and click onto "recent items"

6. Click onto folder which will have title of dress eg "Blue Ruffles Gown". In the folder will be various items of clothing that will make up the whole outfit ie shirt, skirt and shoes.

7. Click on an item of clothing. Then right click and then click onto "wear".

8. Repeat this on each item of clothing until you are wearing the whole outfit.

Now you are ready to go and "party on down!"

Do you know of any other places where you can get free clothes, for chaps as well as women?

Images: Petal Stransky (me) and Aastra Apfelbaum (Deborah Davis)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Using Second Life to teach students about clinical practice

The Faculty of Medicine at Imperial College London has developed a teaching/training resource in Second Life for their medical students. They simulate clinical scenarios for students to work through in the virtual environment.

We will be using a similar approach in the virtual birth unit as midwifery students work through simulations of birth scenarios -
this video will give you a great idea of the sorts of approaches we will be using.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Blogging in Chinchilla

This is my plan for the blogging workshop I am facilitating in Chinchilla on Saturday.

10am-12pm Objectives

  • Be able to describe what a blog is.
  • Be able to find blogs that interest you.
Here are some blogs that may interest you, or use to find blogs.

Reality Bites Writing Festival:
Dipping into the blogpond - Top 100 Australian blogs index:
  • Be able to use a RSS feed to monitor blogs that interest you.
  • Be able to describe the aim and purpose of your blog - why am I writing this, and who is my audience?
12pm-1pm Lunch

1pm-3pm Objectives
  • To set up blog with appropriate settings.
  • Be able to discuss why commenting on other people’s blogs is important and enable people to comment on your blog.
  • Be able to follow your comments on other people's blogs.
  • Be able to discuss how to control spam.
  • Be able to discuss why you would or would not moderate your blog.
  • Be able to use hyperlinks and upload images.
  • To write first post.
  • To set up profile.
  • To exchange blog addresses with other workshop participants.
Please complete feedback survey

Additional resources:

Sue Waters: Here's my first five top tips for writing better blog posts.
Create and maintain a basic weblog: Getting to the point.
Problogger: 31 Day Blog Challenge.

Image: 'Blogging Au Plein Air, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot' Mike Licht,

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The reality of flexible learning in the context of eMentoring

I am currently living the experience of flexible learning from a design and implementation perspective, and it is not an easy experience.

eMentoring project
I am currently implementing an eMentoring program. To start people off, I am asking them to attend education sessions which include information about eMentoring, computer workshops for people who do not know how to use communication tools like Skype, and one on one work with mentor/mentee to create mentoring agreement or contract.

eMentoring workshops
The workshops are being held in Brisbane, Cairns and Longreach in Queensland. It goes without saying that I want as many people to attend the workshops as possible. It is really important that people understand what mentoring is and how to do it effectively. So these education sessions provide a framework for the eMentoring program.

The computer skills aspect of the workshops is also very important because many of the mentees and mentors have only very basic computer skills.

But suffice to say, the same old barriers prevent people attending the workshops including lack of time, lack of financial support to pay for flights and accommodation, huge geographical distances between home and the workshops.

Alternative approaches to face-to-face workshops
There are a number of people who are unable to come to the workshops so I have had to come up with ideas about alternative ways of delivering information and encouraging the project participants to engage with each other. I have developed a handbook and CD Rom (funded by the Gaming Community Benefit Fund) as an asynchronous learning resource, and will be offering online seminars. If I had more time within this project, I would look at designing some supporting learning materials such as videos and podcasts.

Learning needs of mentees
But the need for flexibility extends beyond the actual workshops - I have also had to be very flexible in the way I have facilitated the mentees' thinking about their learning needs and how those needs can be met by the mentors.

I started the project with very fixed ideas about the project, what I expected people to achieve, and time frames. But what I have found is that I have had to talk to people individually in a lot more depth to tease out their issues and learning needs, and take time to make suggestions and guide their decision-making about their goals and objectives. I have also had to come up with completely alternative approaches and tailored packages to suit specific needs and populations.

For example, I am having to make myself available for one-on-one support and tuition, especially with working with indigenous staff in very rural and remote areas. I am also realising that I have to be a lot more flexible with time frames (which is very difficult to do as I am working with a set time frame). Everyone works to their own clock, which begs the question about how we manage the issue of time within formal education programs.

Implications for design of flexible learning
So what have I learned about flexible learning in the last couple of weeks?
  1. Learners are not all square pegs that fit neatly into the square holes we design for them -sometimes they come to us as round pegs, so we need to work with them to manage the fitting of their learning needs with education packages, and/or visa versa.
  2. It is worth investing the time to fully explore learner's needs and how they can be met.
  3. If you want people to engage with your education programs, you have to be prepared to be challenged, which can be quite uncomfortable at times - you may need to very carefully examine your own pre-conceived ideas about education and turn them on their head.
Logistics of flexible learning for educators
My concern about all this 'flexibility' is how much of a time commitment it is for the educator compared to cost - in other words, how cost effective is this 'one to one' work that I have been doing. It has had to be done because of the type of project I am involved with - but would this level of interaction be sustainable in a more lengthy education program?

I would not be able to sustain the sort of one-to-one computer support that I am currently committing myself to. And it just would not be feasible to run around all areas of Queensland running small computer workshops. So I would need to think about how I can utilize community networks and resources to support people in their local environment, especially people in very rural and remote areas.

If you are an educator, what is your experience of designing flexible education programs? How much is it 'nice to do' but in reality is impossible to achieve and sustain? If you are a learner either in a formal education program or undertaking professional development at work, what does 'flexibility' mean to you?

Image: 'Flexibility' Bob.Fornal

Count down to Reality Bites

I am thrilled to have been invited to talk at a non-fiction writers' festival on June 6th called "Reality Bites" at the Sunshine coast.

In the morning I am joining Matthew Cashmore, Rhonda Hetzel and Annette Hughes on a panel to discuss blogging. And in the afternoon I have an hour to run a blogging workshop.

An hour isn't very long, as I think all I'll be able to manage is:
  • Identify goals and objectives for keeping a blog, including name and 'brand'
  • Set up blog with appropriate settings
  • Consider privacy, security and comment policy
  • Set up profile
  • Learn how to upload images
  • Write first post.
What do you think I should concentrate on in that hour?

Image: 'Oh no, here come the Bloggers' Brett L.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

International Day of the Midwife 2009: reflections and plans for next year

This week Deborah Davis and I hosted the virtual 24 hour International Day of the Midwife event. We asked midwives all over the world to join the event by volunteering to either give a live presentation, or contribute an asynchronous resource.

Thank you
At this point I would like to thank Otago Polytechnic for providing access to Elluminate, and the midwives who gifted their time to make live presentations or provide asynchronous resources. I have recorded the live sessions and posted the links to them on the wiki.

I am also hugely grateful to the few midwives who kept me company through the day, especially Pauline Costins (Perth) and Deidre (Holland). And last, but certainly not least, I would like to thank Jo and Phil Hart, as well as Carole McCulloch for all their support, help and advice they gave me about Elluminate at the drop of a hat. As soon as I put out a call for help on Twitter, they responded – they made the logistical managing of Elluminate so much easier, and I have learned a heap from them – THANK YOU!!

Last year I organized a series of online seminars for midwives which were very successful. I meant to do the same this year, but workload has prevented me. I played with the idea of a 24 hour virtual event as a means of catering to all the world’s time zones, and then about a month ago Deborah and I had the idea to combine it with International Day of the Midwife on May 5th.

We advertised the event to our personal networks as well as three international midwifery email groups, two education email groups, five Facebook groups, and two midwifery specific forums, one midwife wiki and Twitter. The most effective of these modes of advertising in terms of attracting presenters and participants were email groups.

Live events
The live events attracted extremely small numbers, averaging six people per session (including speaker and facilitator). The Second Life events attracted the biggest number of participants. I was thrilled at how well Elluminate worked. We only had one session that did not work, and I think that was because we were too ambitious in what we were trying to achieve.

The two things that ensured the smooth running of the Elluminate sessions were having people on-hand to trouble-shoot problems, as I have already mentioned. The other thing was getting people to check the technology and have practice runs before the live event.

Image: 'birth05'

Asynchronous events

We had a wide range of asynchronous ‘events’ or resources ranging from videos to PowerPoint presentations, slidecasts and the production of a Wordle. At the time of writing this reflection, the resources that have been visited the most are Animoto video “International Day of the Midwife” on YouTube (233 views) and my own reflection about being a midwife on Slideshare (183 views).

I asked participants to complete a survey - 10 people responded. When asked about the quality of the events, 66% people said they were were very good and 33% said they were good. All the participants felt the 24 hour event should be repeated next year. Here are the suggestions from participants for topics to be explored next year:
  • All ideas welcome. I like watching videos and slideshows. I love expanding my knowledge and discussing with other midwives.
  • A 'fun' activity and meeting for students
  • How to improve relations between students, midwives, doctors and other health professionals
  • Women and reproductive health
The main change people would like next year is for more notice so they can tell their friends, colleagues & networks about the day (44%).

My personal reflections
My initial reaction was that the event was a failure – the numbers of people who attended the live sessions do not justify the amount of time that Deborah and I put into the project, both in terms of development of the program and facilitation on the day. As you can imagine, organizing the event was hugely time consuming what with developing the program, sorting out the technology, advertising, making resources and maintaining the wiki.

On further reflection, I now have a different take on the day. I am extremely proud of what Deborah and I managed to achieve in just one month, with no support and on an entirely voluntary basis. For me, personally, the day was hugely successful. I ‘met’ midwives from Pakistan, USA, Holland, Tunisia, Burkina Faso, Switzerland and Cyprus – midwives I would never have communicated with before the day.

The other thing I am mindful of is the ongoing value of the resources and recordings. Whilst there may have been small numbers attending the live sessions, the recording are available for people to access, as and when they need to. So the contribution of the day to international midwifery knowledge is un-measurable at this stage.

Collaborating and networking
Particularly exciting has been the connections I have made with midwifery educators who have a similar interest in Second Life – I am very hopeful that these connections will lead to further collaboration. One exciting conversation I had was about online education and the opportunities we have for sharing educational resources on commonly viewed sites such as YouTube -we all agreed that sharing resources is hugely advantageous for us as educators. But more importantly, student midwives throughout world will benefit hugely. If one educator shares one resource on YouTube or else where, that is a great outcome for the day.

Plans for next year
I asked participants if we should repeat the virtual 24 hour event next year and the response was an over-whelming affirmative. Whilst numbers of participants were small this year, the consensus was that if we keep working on events like this, people will become more familiar with the concept and more confident to use the technology. This year’s event is modeling what is possible to achieve in terms of networking and sharing information.

Here are the changes I would recommend next year if we repeat the event:
  • Plan the event much earlier so we can get people to commit to the project - a number of people were interested in presenting but were too busy at the time.
  • Start advertising the event earlier.
  • Coordinate more effectively with the ICM.
  • Ask some 'big midwifery names' to present, to attract a bigger audience.
  • Get a team of people together who can facilitate throughout the time zones so that the burden does not lie with just a couple of people.
  • Have a team of people 'on-call' to address technological problems.
Peer-reviewed conference?
There is an argument that to attract academics we should make the event a peer-reviewed virtual conference, to give more credibility to the event. But I am very resistant to that idea. I want this event to be very easily accessible, so would not want to put up barriers to midiwves who are not academics. For me, the emphasis of the event is on networking, not academic research outputs.

What topics would you like to see addressed in this event next year? What would encourage you to 'attend' - what are the barriers that would prevent you?

Image: 'midwives deliver!'

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Open educational resources

One of the ways I feel we can work in health toward sustainability, building of communities of practice and supporting each other is to make educational and professional resources open to all. Instead of locking up resources behind walls of institutions and facilities, we should do all we should to publish them in an open online environment for all to see. This means anything from the guidelines you develop as a hospital staff member, to an education program you make in an educational facility.

Here is a video that explains what open educational resources means by the staff of Otago Polytechnic, who now may a lot of their educational resources and programs openly available on the Internet.

What are the barriers to you putting your resources on the Internet so that they are freely available to all? How can you overcome those barriers?

International Day of the Midwife 2009 - Wordle

Here is a Wordle made from the program of the 24 hour virtual International Day of the Midwife 2009. And here is the link to a Wordle made by the American College of Nurse-Midwives as part of the IDM celebrations.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Te Wāhi Whānau/ The Birth Place

Here is a video explaining the virtual Second Life birth unit project, and the work we have done so far.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Program for the virtual International Day of the Midwife

Well, this is it - the program for the virtual International Day of the Midwife May 5th 2009. A huge 'thank you' to everyone who has freely volunteered their time to make resources and present 'live' sessions. And a big hug to my co-organiser Deborah Davis who will be facilitating the 'live' sessions with me all hours of the day and night.

Activities and resources
There's a real mix of activities from meetings in Second Life, to 'live' discussions ranging from clinical practice, international midwifery to sustainability and how to reduce maternal mortality. There are videos, slidecast, Prezi and Wordle presentations. And of course, there's a Twitter discussion. All the live sessions will be recorded and posted on the IDM09 wiki in the next week.

Not too late to take part
If anyone would still like to present a live session, it is still possible to do so, so please contact me or Deborah Davis ( as soon as possible.

If you do attend a session or have a look at a resource, please feel free to complete the short feedback form:

Wishing all you midwives a fun and reflective day on Tuesday.

Image: Amy and Melody, the midwife wickenden

Making a Prezi presentation for International Day of the Midwife 2009

For some time now I have been meaning to have a play with Prezi, which is a program that allows you to make presentations. So today I made a presentation for the virtual International Day of the Midwife on May 5th.

Good things
The good thing about Prezi is that is gives presentations a very different feel to PowerPoint. So if you are especially bored with PowerPoint, give this a go. And it is free.

Not such good things
I have to say that I didn't find it very intuitive, and I didn't find the instruction videos very helpful either. I would think that people whose Internet/computer skills are average, would find this program a tad tricky to get their heads around. Having said that, I think it is worth persevering to get such a different effect to traditional presentations.

To see the presentation I made, go to the box above and click onto 'open'. This will take you to the presentation. Wait a few seconds for it to download and click the 'play/forward' button in the bottom right hand corner until the end of the presentation.

I love to hear what you think of it, and the contents.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Using Second Life in health care practice and education

If you're still trying to get your head around what Second Life is, and it's relevance to health care practice and education, have a look at this information video by The University of Michigan's Health Sciences Libraries. John Waugh of the SLENZ project, rates it as one of the best information videos around in terms of Second Life and health.

Finding 'legal' music for your video

I love making videos - I am not very good at it - but I love having a go.

Creative Commons music
One of the things you have to be careful about when you are producing a video, is making sure you use music that is 'legal' ie does not have an 'all rights reserved' license on it.

The music I use has a Creative Commons license attached and can be found at

Here is a beautiful album of instrumental piano music by Maya Filipič. Enjoy.

International Day of the Midwife 2009: Animoto video

Here is an Animoto video celebrating midwives and mothers, which is one of the resources for the Virtual International Day of the Midwife. It is made from images posted on Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

For the whole program, links to events and activities, have at a look at the IDM09 wiki.

What did you think after watching the video - do these images match your perceptions of midwives and midwifery?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Midwifery, sustainability and International Day of the Midwife 2009

One of the themes that has shown up in the program for the virtual International Day of the Midwife 2009 is sustainability.

Carbon footprint
In one session, Lorna Davies is talking about carbon footprint. To be honest, I am not sure where Lorna is going with this, but you can find out more about her thoughts on the sustainability wiki that she has set up: EcoMidwife.

Sustainable parenting
The second session is by Anna Hughes, who is a lecturer at Otago Polytechnic, Dunedin. Anna has recently written two blog posts about sustainable parenting from a mother's point of view.

Nappy-free babies
Her first post is about raising a nappy-free baby. I have to say that up to now I have thought that parents who do this are stark, starring mad. But I really enjoyed Ann's explanation of how to tune in to a baby's behavior, and I think this post is an excellent resource for parents wishing to pursue this model of parenting.

Sustainable midwifery practice
In the second post, Anna challenges midwives about the things we can do to support sustainable parenting. I agree that the two biggest things we can do to support sustainability is to carry out more home births, and encourage breastfeeding. As a hospital and home birth midwife, I know I use far more commodities in hospital because I don't have to pay for them, and there is a never-ending supply of plastic and paper.

If you would like to know and join in the discussion about sustainability, have a look at Lorna's wiki and Anna's blog, and join us on International Day of the Midwife on May 5th.

Image: 'medical waste' GregPC

Birth unit design research in the UK

I am very pleased to have made contact with Selina who is a teacher, doula and health analyst. Selina is involved in birth unit design research in the UK.

Parallel research

Selina is using her blog "Deverra" to explore issues of birth unit design in much the same way I am using mine for the virtual birth unit project. It is fascinating to see how our work parallels each other. For example, we both have posts about women's views on birthing and environment - Selina has a brilliant video where women give their views, and I have used Twitter to gather my data.

Resources for Te Wahi Whanau

The other great thing about this blog is that we are going to be able to use it as a resource for the virtual birth unit, for example, Selina has given me permission to use the images of various birth units in the UK - I haven't seen anything like them in New Zealand or Australia - which is giving me food for thought in terms of how we can improve "Te Wāhi Whānau/ The Birth Place".

A question about Creative Commons

I had a very nice surprise today - one of my photos of Brisbane river which I have placed on Flickr has been picked up by Schmap, which is a map guide. I had a very nice email from Emma, at Schmap explaining that she was using my photo in the guide for Brisbane. I have a Creative Commons license on the photo which means it can be used in any way as long as it is attributed back to me.

This is great, thought I, fame at last.

But I have just realised that Schmap has an 'all rights reserved' license on its work. So now I am wondering if I should ask Emma to remove my photo as it contravenes my license. But then again, maybe I have got the wrong license attached to my work? What I do not want to happen is for my work to be locked up under someone else's 'all rights reserved' license.

Gosh, I'm confused - can anyone help me sort this out?