Friday, February 25, 2011

Models of funding for open access education

One of the projects I am working to get off the ground is a research project looking at what attracts people to open education courses, and how best to fund them. This is an in-house project that aims to inform the move of the Certificate of Tertiary Learning and Teaching (GCTLT) offered by Otago Polytechnic into an open environment.

Free, online courses
This project is in part inspired by my own experiences of facilitating the open, online course 'Facilitating Online'. It is also in response to a growing number of free, online courses such as:
Other work looking at OER
This project will also tie in with the OER University project led by Dr Wayne Mackintosh, as well as the work carried out by Leigh Blackall: Open Education Practices: A User Guide for Organisations. And finally, this research will be a follow up to the study carried out by Antonio Fini, who looked at the outcomes of the 2008 iteration of the course "Connectivism and Connective Knowledge": The Technological Dimension of a Massive Open Online Course: The Case of the CCK08 Course Tools.

I am really interested to hear from anyone doing work in this area, or interested in the concept of open education. Have you carried out research into open education? If so, what conclusions have you come up with? Do you know of any funding models for open education? Do you know of anyone playing around with similar ideas that I could talk to?

Image: 'iPhoneography: By The Grace Of God'

Thursday, February 24, 2011

My past come back to haunt me

As some of you will know, I am an English ex-pat. I moved to New Zealand from Salisbury in Wiltshire fourteen years ago. My husband's family still live in Salisbury and we have many friends in that area. Whenever I go home...which isn't very often these of the things I like to do is to visit Salisbury Cathedral and spend some time breathing in the air...centring myself....and re-charging my spirit.

Radio Star
I had to laugh yesterday, the morning after the Christchurch earthquake, because I got a phone call from BBC Radio Wiltshire. The researcher had spent five hours searching the Internet for someone who lived in New Zealand who had a connection to Wiltshire...and he found me. So I have been giving updates about what is happening in New Zealand. If nothing else, my 80-year-old mother-in-law has been tickled pink hearing me on the radio.

Online profile
What interested me was the journey the researcher took to find me. He first identified me on StudentMidwife.Net and then followed me to my blog, Facebook page etc. The irony of this is that I have been thinking of closing my account with StudentMidwife.Net because I never use it.

So for those of you who are reluctant to have an Internet presence, you just never know what opportunities arise when you put yourself "out there".

What opportunities have cropped up for you as a result of your online presence or profile?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Virtual International Day of the Midwife 5th May 2011: Call for expressions of interest

The Virtual International Day of the Midwife (VIDM) celebrates the International Day of the Midwife by bringing midwives and others from across the globe together using online electronic media. Online events are presented every hour for 24hrs on the 5th May starting at 12pm New Zealand time and may include;
  • live presentations via web-conferencing facilities
  • electronic discussions
  • podcasts
  • audio & video recordings
  • blog posts
Past presentations can be found at 

Expressions of Interest
The organising committee are now calling for Expressions of Interest (EOI) to present at the VIDM eVent. While the EOI must be in English we welcome presentations in other languages. We also welcome EOI from non-midwives and midwifery students. Presenters need not be experienced in using electronic media - members of the organising committee will be able to give support.

What to write in your EOI
Please provide a short paragraph (no more than 150 words) describing your presentation and the form it will take (for example a PowerPoint presentation, live or email discussion, video, photographic slide show, story-telling session). Please also include your status (eg midwife, non-midwife, midwifery student), country of origin and language of presentation. Your presentations or resources should;
  • Have a clear aim or purpose
  • Focus on maternity care or midwifery
  • Be of interest to an international audience
  • Be appropriate to the chosen media

If you would like to give a live presentation, please indicate what time and time zone you are available in your EOI.

Please note: We will be using the web-conferencing platform Elluminate. All live sessions will be facilitated by an experienced online facilitator so you will be supported at every stage.

Where to send your EOI
Please submit your EOI by 11th March 2011 by;

Monday, February 21, 2011

Spotlight on new graduate midwives

Midwifery education is in the news again in New Zealand following the death of a baby at a birth attended by a new graduate midwife. The case is sitting with the coroner at the moment and we're waiting to hear his verdict.

At the moment, new graduate midwives are eligible to be mentored for one year by a paid mentor as part of the New Zealand College of Midwives First Year of Midwifery Practice Program. But it is possible that the coroner will make recommendations for this program to become compulsory.

If this is the case and the recommendation is taken up by the government, additional funding will be required. The other issue that will need watching is how the coroner (and others) see the support of new graduates... as a mentoring model or more of a supervision format. And if the FYMPP becomes more of a supervision model, all sorts of questions will need to be answered, not least how it will fit with undergraduate education.

Needless to say, midwives will be watching closely for the verdict of this coroner's report.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The International Confederation of Midwives becomes social

I had a pleasant surprise the other day when I was told that the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) has set up a Facebook and Twitter account.

Global midwifery
The ICM is the organisation that represents midwives at a global level. It does a lot of campaigning to improve maternity conditions in developing countries and raise the profile of midwifery. But I am guessing the average midwife on the street knows little to nothing about the ICM and what it does, apart from the International Day of the Midwife on 5th May and the three-yearly conference it organises. The ICM has a website but it is not interactive, and I for one have found it difficult communicating with people at the ICM in the past.

Social media making the ICM accessible
So I am very pleased that the ICM is engaging with social media at long last. What I hope this will do is give the midwives on the street the opportunity to interact with the people behind the ICM, get to know what the ICM is doing, and in turn collaborate with the ICM in a far more inclusive way.

The challenge for Anita, who is the ICM communications & media officer behind the Facebook and Twitter accounts, is to facilitate a two-way communication process which actively engages midwives.

Coordinating the International Day of the Midwife
The first task Anita wants to achieve is to coordinate activities for the International Day of the midwife on the 5th May. So if you are a midwife planning something, put the details on the Facebook page so we can share ideas, resources and fun.

Image: '331 - Last appointment?'

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Virtual International Day of the Midwife: Planning coming along nicely

The planning committee for the Virtual International Day of the Midwife (VIDM) 5th May had another meeting last week. Here are the discussions and decisions we made.

1. Call for expressions of interest
  • EOI has been developed on the VIDM wiki and is all ready to go.
  • Please feel free to disseminate as far and wide as possible.
  • Please keep a record of where you advertise on the event wiki.
  • Sarah will put together a poster which can be put up on walls in hospitals etc.
2. Criteria for speakers
If we get inundated with people wanting to take part with the live sessions we will have to develop a criteria for acceptance. Please add any thoughts about what the criteria should include on the VIDM wiki under the heading "Criteria for choosing abstracts". We will discuss all the EOIs at our next committee meeting.

3. Elluminate rooms
To confirm we decided to use 24 separate Elluminate rooms, so those rooms will all need to be set up, and speakers/facilitators given "staff member" rights - this will be done by Sarah nearer the time.

4. Other jobs to do
Apart from disseminating the EOI to all our networks there are a number of jobs that need to be taken on now - please check the time line for more information. The main jobs are:
  • Manage Twitter account - Pam
  • Manage Facebook - need a volunteer
  • Information for facilitators - Chris
  • Information for speakers - Chris
  • Invite ICM to open meeting - ?Mary
5. Next committee meeting
Will be held in the week of the 18th March. The main topic of conversation will be to check out the EOI and finalise the program.

If you would like to be involved with the VIDM 2011 in any way, please let me know.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Free, online course 'Facilitating Online ' starts on 7th March 2011

The online course "Facilitating Online" (FO2011) that I facilitate every year on behalf of Otago Polytechnic starts again in a couple of weeks on 7th March 2011. This is a great course for anyone who wants to learn more about how to use online communication tools for facilitating events, classes, conversations, meetings etc.

Joys of FO2011
I love working with this online course because it brings together people from all over the world, all walks of life... developing learning communities/networks...where we learn more about how to work collaboratively in the online environment. I know I have a vested interest in this course because I have helped to develop it, but I love it because it is extremely experiential... you will get a chance to integrate theory with practice and have a go at facilitating your own online events as you go along in the course.

This year we have a slightly different model for fees. Access to the course and the course materials is free as usual. However, if you want personalised support and mentoring from me, you will have to enrol as a facilitated student. If you want full assessment services and accreditation, you will need to enrol as a formal student, as per usual. For more information, please contact our administrator, Catherine Lindsay: catherine.lindsay(at)

I must admit I feel a tad uncomfortable about charging a fee for my support as it has been free in the past. However, it has become too expensive to carry on like this...and the fees for facilitated students are not too bad...$180NZ ...a lot cheaper than if you hired me as a consultant! :)

I will be carrying out a research study and looking at issues of recruitment and retention of open, online courses to see if charging a fee makes a difference. I'd love to hear from you if you have a view on this. How has the fee structure for 'Facilitating Online' this year affected your decision to join the course? What do you think of the fee structure?

Image: 'Flickr Meet #3 - Nottingham'

Monday, February 14, 2011

Struggling with my inner hippy

Having said a couple of years ago that I was going to spend the rest of my working life as a self-employed free spirit, I find myself employed by an Australian university as a midwifery lecturer.

Research brownie points
This is the first time I have worked in the university sector (my academic life so far has been in the polytechnic/tafe sector) and the thing that strikes me most is the demands that are placed on academics to be producing research outputs in order to gain recognition, funding and super dooper brownie points. Research has to be published in the top ranking scientific journals which brings about all sorts of questions for me, not least how this is going to work with my philosophy to only publish in open access journals.

Academic freedom
Leigh Blackall talks about the effect this has on academic freedom and how it brings about "silent subservience to the authority". As far as I am concerned, the only way for this to change is for us to stick together and continue to publish in OA journals so that they become top ranked journals. To my mind, it is not so much that the top ranked journals are the is that they are the most well known. If we support OA journals, they too will become better known...will attract top work...become top ranked...and attract yet more top work.

So I am afraid my inner hippy is rebelling when told to only publish in journals such as "Birth" or "Midwifery". My top choice for publishing midwifery research will be "Women and Birth", which is a 'B' ranked journal but openly available to readers.

Post Script
On the same issue, I had to laugh at Steve Wheeler's latest blog post about OA and academic research: Pigs are flying. Have a read to see his reaction when asked to pay to have his research published.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

New job at Griffith University

I am just about to leave Brisbane after three weeks of getting to know the staff and students at the Griffith School of Midwifery. It has been a crazy three weeks getting my head around a new program and teaching clinical skills to second year midwifery students. But at the same time, it has been heart-warming to be working with women who are so dedicated to bringing about change in the Australian maternity services, against quite considerable odds to introduce continuity of midwifery care.

My job at Griffith University in Brisbane is teaching undergraduate midwifery students mostly online, developing new courses for the degree program, contributing to the development of the midwifery team, and looking for opportunities for research.

It is very exciting to be working on a new midwifery program - the program is just entering its second year. As you can imagine, it has a few rough edges to iron out, so the experience I have gained working in the Otago program for 10 years will be invaluable - not so much around content, but academic processes. Having said that, I am really looking forward to having the opportunity to put my own spin on the online courses that I will be developing over the next year.

It has been a while since I have needed to carry out a catheterisation or cannulation procedure, but it is affirming to know you never lose these skills. At the same time, I have enjoyed being challenged by students to justify why I do what I do. The feedback from students has been that they have enjoyed the last couple of weeks but I do waffle on some times, so need to address my time keeping...which has always been a problem I struggle with.

One of the things I am going to enjoy most with working in a team where innovation, creativity and personal autonomy is encouraged. One of the challenges for me as I return to New Zealand is how I am going to manage the distance between myself and the rest of the we're going to grow our developing relationships as well as manage university processes.

Have you worked as a member of a virtual team? What worked for you and what pit falls would you advise me to avoid?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I heart Seamus

Essentially I am an old fashioned girl. Yes, I admit I love my online technology but when it comes to every day technology I am a bit of a Luddite. The one new technology that I have never got my head around is GPS units for the car. I mean...have you got one? What's with that?! What's wrong with a paper map!! For goodness sake, there's no excuse now we have got Google Maps!!

Well...I am afraid I am going to have to eat my hat. I am currently staying with a friend in Brisbane. I plucked up courage to have a little drive around on Saturday. Just for the fun of it, I switched on her GPS unit. He talks with an Irish accent and is called Seamus. am totally in love with Seamus...he is amazing. I'm going to tuck him in my suitcase and take him back to New Zealand. Never again to fiddle around with maps...having to stop and start to read them...putting your finger through the seams...arguing with hubby because he wants to go in the total opposite direction to the way the map says you should go.

The only snag is...Dunedin is a three horse town so I know my way around really well and cannot justify eloping with Seamus. So what I'll have to do is run away with him to a big Australian city and live happily ever after :)

Image: 'Loads of GPS devices in our car'