Friday, November 23, 2007

Online midwifery communities

I have been asked to write a little about the midwife group in Facebook. I have to say that I have not gelled with Facebook. I think it has the potential to soak up a lot of time, and I have made a conscious decision to put my energy into this blog. However, when I was thinking about advertising my online midwifery meetings I thought I would look to see if there were any midwives in Facebook - it is too time consuming going to individual blogs to give people information. Plus, I have found that the midwives I have visited via their blogs have not been very interactive.

What has fascinated me about Facebook is that the majority of people who identify themselves as midwives live in New Zealand (yes, I made sure my search was for all of Facebook not just New Zealand) and... quite a number are graduates of Otago Polytechnic School of Midwifery!

There are a number of midwifery related groups in Facebook but the biggest is
Bein a Midwife is the best job in the world!!!! It has nearly 1300 members but does not appear to be very active - I haven't much of a sense of community with this group. There is very little activity on the community 'wall' and the discussion posts are only answered by one or two participants. Certainly it is a growing group but I am not sure what people would get out of it.

I personally prefer the midwifery research discussion email list I am a member of. It was founded by Jane Sandall a few years ago as an initiative of the International Confederation of Midwives. It has just under 500 members. It is primarily an academic research group and what I love about it is that it has the potential to put me in touch with some of the top researchers in midwifery. What frustrates me at times is that people do not engage as much as I would like. For example, I put out a post once asking people to share their experiences of research that did not go as well as planned - no one replied. It may have been because they didn't like the topic but I suspect it was because the list members are very selective about what they engage with probably because of time constraints. Having said that, there are clearly topics that get people excited and they tend to be around how midwives can keep birth normal and prevent the increasing medicalisation of birth.

What online communities are you a member of that you find really helpful/interesting?


Leigh Blackall said...

Thanks for the quick review Sarah, it is interesting to see that people interested in Midwifery ARE looking for online connection - even if their attempts seem to be inactive. 1300 on FB is huge, but I agree with your preference to not use FB too much. I think attempting to establish a blogging network will be more effective in the longer term.

I am part of many online learning communities as you can imagine. But by far the strongest of them all (in terms of a strong bond, sense of community and responsiveness) would be Teach and Learn Online. I hope you will browse the archive and see the range of topics discussed there. It would be great to see you in there from time to time :)

Sarah Stewart said...

Thanks for that, Leigh. I'll join up and see how I go. I'm just afraid the group will be too technical and advanced along the e-learning road for me. But I guess it's for me to make of it what I will. cheers