Saturday, November 3, 2007

Using Facebook in midwifery education

Facebook is a social networking site very similar to bebo and MySpace. For explanations of what they are, have a look on Wikipedia. I have always thought of these sites as being frivolous fun for children and teenagers, but it has struck me lately how huge these sites are and how many people use them, even 'grown ups'.

On Monday my daughter, Ellen, gave a presentation using Elluminate to explain what Facebook is and how it might work in education. She was of a mind that Facebook was 'fun' and that she didn't want to mix school/university with fun, which is an interesting idea in itself-can we not have fun at school!? Having said that, she could see it had possibilities for example, it could encourage networking to solve assignment questions. Ellen did feel that if teachers were going to use it for education, the framework of the group should be kept basic and professional ie not to add all the extras that can distract people. She also thought it might be quite time-consuming for teachers to keep up with all the happenings that go on in Facebook.

Sue Waters uses Facebook for interacting with her students. She feels it allows her to get to know her students and visa versa. I have mixed feelings about it. I think it's great as a personal tool for keeping in touch with people, having fun and finding people you have lost touch with. Ellen made me an account and I got sent a 'slippery nipple' but am yet to find out my stripper name! I am not so sure about using Facebook in midwifery education. I acknowledge that you only need add the people you wish to add but I am not sure I want students to have access to my personal 'silliness', but on the overhand it might add another dimension to our interactions that would be fun, especially for distance students. Probably, we need to go back to the students and find out what they would like and experiment over the next few years with the various tools to see what works best. In the meantime, I'm off to drink a virtual glass of chardonnay that was sent to me by my good friend Sandra - just wish it were real!


Sarah Stewart said...

Just did a search on Facebook for 'midwife' and found a number of individual midwives and a few groups for midwives and students. So maybe I need to pay Facebook more attention?

Leigh Blackall said...

Good to see you're using it for your own networking benefit. Sorry I haven't got to the recording yet. Have been flat out :(

Sue Waters said...

Still feel that Facebook is a space that we should let students decided how they want to interact with. As an interesting note to the session I was discussing Facebook with my students on Wednesday - one was telling me how she was getting feed up with it (similar to many people I know that have been using it for awhile) - and another was explaining why he was in Facebook but would not feel comfortable adding me as a friend (which I had absolutely no issue with).

But for lecturers who are thinking about using Facebook with their students they have to realise that many students will feel exactly how my student felt - that he did not want to add me - he wanted to keep part of his life separate. I would much rather students choose to interact with each other in Facebook and helped each other with their assignments if they choose to.

Sarah Stewart said...

Thanks for your comment , Sue. This business about wanting to keep work separate from private life seems to be running as a thread through a number of my posts and the comments and is also related to my post about how I see myself as a lecturer. This is my argument for not adding current students to my Facebook, because I do not want to blur those boundaries. But on the other hand, am I contradicting myself if I am putting some personal stuff on my blog which they can see? Possibly, but I do have power over what goes on my blog. Having said that, I have caught up with a couple of ex-students on Facebook which was really great.

Sarah Stewart said...

Midwives using Facebook: After all my moaning about how New Zealand midwives do not use social networking tools, when I did my search of Facebook using 'midwife', nearly all the profiles bar one or two are NZ midwives! Maybe I'll have to eat my hat after all!?!