Friday, November 23, 2007

Student midwives and Bebo

Our new third year student midwives are about to launch into their final year of a three year direct-entry midwifery program when they are placed anywhere in New Zealand and overseas to work with midwives to consolidate their midwifery education. Keeping in touch and maintaining a sense of community can be very problematic because the students are scattered throughout New Zealand. I have tried to encourage students to use the discussion board in BlackBoard in the past but this has never taken off. So I thought I'd try something different this year - set up a secure blog that they could use to keep in touch, pass on information and use as a reflection tool.

Well, blow me down, they have beaten me to it. One of the students has set up a Bebo site especially for their use and have declined the use of the blog. Bebo is a social networking platform similar to Facebook and MySpace. It is going to be an informal tool ie set up by themselves for their own use - not directed by us, the midwifery educators. We, the educators, have said we do not want to be included in it because we want them to have their own space.

However, I have indicated that I may be interested in analyzing its use at the end of the year. I would be very interested in seeing how/why/where they use it and then look at whether we can or even want to incorporate that into the resources we provide. It would be interesting to compare their 'informal', spontaneous use of Bebo to that of social networking platforms developed specifically with an education focus, such as that developed by Russell Butsen and the Otago University School of Dentistry. If you have any ideas about how I would go about evaluating the students' Bebo site I'd love to hear them, especially if you have taken on similar projects.

If you are a student, how do you feel about using social networking platforms such as Bebo and Facebook for social networking and/or educational purposes? If you are a teacher, how have you used this platforms in your teaching?

Image: 'flickr contacts - March 28, 2005 {notes}'


Leigh Blackall said...

how very interesting. that is nice evidence of self organisation happening - which may lead to self directed learning. Let's hope it proves useful for them.

Sarah Stewart said...

I think it's fabulous, Leigh, and am very excited about it. I hope they'll let me analyze it next year-cannot wait to see how/if they use it. My only concern that I mentioned to them was the issue of privacy, especially if they use it for talking about their clinical experiences. So it will be interesting to see how they deal with that.

Carolyn McIntosh said...

That is great Sarah I have to say this particular group of students always seem to have had a strong sense of cohesion and community and I am not totally surprised that they have taken this initiative. We left to ponder whether we should introduce students to something like this or is it better if it spontaneously comes form the group themselves.
I think that this does demonstrate that we are right to put some energy into learning about these resources. We at least have some ideas of some of the advantages and pitfalls of these resources.

Sarah Stewart said...

I will be interested to see if it is used in an educational way, as a tool for reflection etc, of if its just a fun way of keeping in touch.

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