Wednesday, November 21, 2007

My first online midwifery meeting

Photo: Sandfly Bay, Dunedin, New Zealand

This morning I facilitated my first online midwifery meeting with Carolyn McIntosh. It was a daunting experience - I hardly slept a wink all night worrying about the technology and how it would all work. But in the end, it all worked really well. Everyone was able to log in without any problems and worked out all the buttons. We had great fun exploring Elluminate and working out how we could do various things. I am very grateful to David McQuillan for hanging around and giving me some guidance so to how things work.

I was a bit disappointed that we only had a few people attend but three of them were in Australia, so it was fantastic that we were able to connect with them. No doubt timing is a big issue. It was really difficult deciding when to hold the meeting and possibly we didn't get anyone from the UK because it was later in their evening. It will be interesting to see if the next meeting I have planned attracts a greater number - the timing should better suit people in Europe. I advertised this meeting on the midwifery research list and to a large midwifery group on Facebook as well as to personal contacts. Maybe I need think again about how/where/when I advertise these meetings.

I ran through my slides about midwifery in New Zealand. I must admit, I got a bit flummoxed at one point when one of the participants (my best friend, I have to say!) was playing around and sabotaged my PowerPoint slide. That wouldn't happen at a face-to-face presentation! However, I think I managed to survive. It certainly is a challenge to present in an interesting way when you cannot see the audience, and have to keep an eye on the running text at the same time. I was really grateful to have Carolyn with me-her role was to watch the running text so she could answer any queries as I was speaking.

The discussion following my presentation was a lot more interactive - we talked about how we could keep midwives in the profession. Ongoing peer support was seen as one way to do that, which ties in with what we were doing this morning. We also considered how we can attract young women into the profession, which is an ongoing question. We believed it is very important to keep campaigning to raise midwives' profiles, especially in Australia where the midwife is not known as well as she is here in New Zealand. We also need to be working with our professional bodies to continue exploring how we can support students, especially on a financial basis.

To summarize:

1. Invaluable to have at least one other person to facilitate - to help keep the conversation running and answer queries.
2. Be available on Skype or similar communication mode so that people can discuss any problems they have with logging in. That is another good reason for having a support person so that he/she can watch the main group as you sort out individual problems, or the other way around.
3. This is a very small beginning, and I must not have unrealistic expectations about how I am going to solve all midwifery problems along with global warming, and alien abductions with Elluminate! If nothing else, we were able to start some dialogue and promote networking today, which is a great outcome.

A recording of the meeting can be found here:

The next meeting is being held on Thursday 29th November at 10pm New Zealand time (London Thursday 29th 9am UCT/GMT). Check here to see the time where you live - Time Zone.

This meeting is open to anyone interested in midwifery research, especially postgraduate midwifery research students and their supervisors. This is an opportunity for researchers, especially students to network and share information about their research. This is particularly aimed at midwives who are studying/researching in an isolated context.


Sarah Stewart said...

From one of the participants:

Congratulations Sarah - it was great. I am SO impressed with how you're embracing this. You know, I think a lot of people didn't join in because they're just daunted by technology. I wouldn't have had the confidence to do it on my own but it was fun doing it with Deb - who goes for it! It would be good to pursue inserting a word document or pdf so that we could all discuss it. I'll be more bold next time - I felt rather inhibited when I spoke but this is because it's all very new.I look forward to another one if you want. Cheers
Thank you for your comment. I think you are absolutely right about the fear of technology. I have to think about it and consider what I can do to address that. Any suggestions, anyone?

Carolyn McIntosh said...

I think it was actually quite good that it was a small intimate group for the first experience at this. I think you did really well Sarah. Perhaps the time of year is not so good either as things get pretty hectic at this time of year. I am happy to help with the next one but I certainly don't have a good idea of all the tools with elluminate. E.g. I did not find the button to disconnect the mike should it become necessary. I also found out a couple of things I was unaware of as you were setting up the group. Everyone seemed very interested in using this technology to communicate. I do believe it has so much potential. How to get others on board with it is the question. I think the topic or the speaker has to be so delicious that they are so tempted they just have to join in. In a way that is what got us hooked in the course we were doing. Overseas, interesting and vibrant speakers, whom we would not otherwise have had the pleasure of meeting, was a big draw card for me. Thanks for starting this ball rolling, lets hope it picks up momentum.

Sarah Stewart said...

Thanks for that, Carolyn. Again I would agree with you. I see this working in two ways to support midwives - I am not talking about it as part of a defined education program. Firstly, in a conference sort of way ie you get a well known speaker to do a session in the same way you would at a conference. Of course, the issue of funding hasn't cropped up yet. I am organizing this as 'fun' - I haven't had to pay anyone although it is obviously costing Otago Polytechnic to use Elluminate-a big 'thank you' to OP for allowing these meetings to happen.

The second way is to facilitate small group work like a support group or discussion group. This may become more of a regular meeting that people can dip in and out of. I see it as having huge potential but as has been said, how to get the word out? I wonder how many midwives access the MIDIRS webinar sessions?

Merrolee said...

Hi Sarah
Sorry I couldn't make it (even if I'm not a midwife!).... I had hoped to but we had an all day staff meeting which meant that I couldn't pop out for an Elluminate sessions :-(
so good to hear that you got the technology to work - I've been trying for two weeks to get a presented from the US to offer us a session and she's had so much trouble accessing the programme - due to their firewalls!

So I'll hopefully listen to the session later and then may have more to contirbute!

Sarah Stewart said...

I had a very negative experience of Elluminate the other day. I tried to access a session that was being hosted in the USA. Their program was more sophisticated than ours, and I had terrible trouble accessing it. The moderator was extremely unhelpful. She kept telling me to do things and I had no clue what she was talking about. I was really intimidated because the speaker and other participants were obviously a lot further down the road with Elluminate than I was.

I guess thats a valuable lesson for me to remember with regards to newbie midwives using this program.

Mary Sidebotham said...

Hi Sarah, I just wanted to say thanks for organising today - and for encouraging me to give it a go. I do have this mental block that things to do with technology will be too hard, and I was amazed at just how easy it was to log in, and how well the technology worked. I think the potential for this is limitless. I enjoyed the presentation and enjoyed Debs piccies too, !!
If you felt phased it certainly didnt come across
looking forward to next week
hope you sleep soundly tonight

Yvonne said...

Well done, Sarah. The feedback from your participants reflects a successful experience. And it's great to see comments revealing that people who were anxious about using technology found it easier than they imagined. Getting over that initial barrier is so important.


Yvonne said...

Well done, Sarah. The feedback from your participants reflects a successful experience. And it's great to see comments revealing that people who were anxious about using technology found it easier than they imagined. Getting over that initial barrier is so important.



Leigh Blackall said...

Wel done Sarah. I get a warm fuzzy feeling reading your posts here, and listening to your session recording now. It is great to see you bravely having a go. I think you must be emerging as a leading midwife educator by now. I'm sure you'll keep it up. And what's this about a large Midwife Facebook group? Maybe a post about that would be good. Is it active, can you learn things from it? Anyway, great job - and good on you :)

Sarah Stewart said...

Thanks for that, Leigh. I enjoyed myself. The question for me will be whether to continue with regular Elluminate sessions, but I'll worry about that after Thursday's efforts - will wait and see if there is any more interest.

I deserve a medal because I am missing my work's Christmas 'do' to facilitate the session.... the truth is, I double booked myself!! So I'll be home alone with my computer, pulling crackers by myself!

bronwyn said...

aren't you the clever clogs! Great on you for giving it a go and apologies for not making it even to just say hello.

Leading the way with a machete in one hand and a knife between your teeth has never been easy. Jump over the traps and run like heck if you are confronted by wildlife...unless it is a bear and then you have to lie very flat legs apart. (yeah I read it in a Canadian wildlife safety book). Go forth womin!

Sarah Stewart said...

Gosh Bron, I hope things never get quite as bad as that!! :)

Leigh Blackall said...

yikes! what's a bear to make of that!!