Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Evidence-Based Practice: Back to Basics

I have had a lovely summer exploring ideas about social networking and Web 2.0 as a means for learning, but now I am back at work the reality of the new academic year has hit. This has left me with the question: how do I utilize all I have learned about Web 2.0 in my every day teaching practice?

My 'teaching practice' this year is very little classroom teaching as such but more facilitation, support and supervision especially for senior students who are out on clinical placements all over the country. So my main roles are disseminating information, supporting reflection and questioning.

One of my first tasks this year was to review feedback from last years' senior students. One of their greatest challenges was getting access to library material back on campus. Relying on photocopying and post was a great barrier to their learning and preparation of academic assignments. But this begs the question: why do students only rely on paper resources in the library? Why don't students use the electronic databases with full text resources? Have they never heard of Google Scholar? Do they have the online access and knowledge that we think they have? Why don't they network with other midwives via blogs, websites and email to obtain and synthesise information? Do they not use alerts, social bookmarking and RSS feeds?

I know that access to the Internet can be very difficult when students are out on placement, especially in rural areas. But I am also wondering if we make too many assumptions about students' knowledge of online resources and how to use them. This thought has been echoed by Michele Martin who has been asking the same questions in her recent post "Venturing Outside of My Web 2.0 Bubble".

So, coming back to how I am going to incorporate Web 2.0 into my teaching practice, I think I will start simple. As much as I would love to launch straight into blogs, Twitter, e-portfolios and communities of practice, I am going to go back to basics to make sure that students understand how and where to access information, and then utilize that into their academic work and every day midwifery clinical practice. This 'basic' skill is a vital one that underpins the whole concept of evidence-based midwifery practice and is a skill that is as important as the hands-on skill of catching a baby.

If you are a student, what computer skills and knowledge do you think it is important to have, and what would you like to know more about?

Image: 'inviting...' chelseagirl


Claire Thompson said...

I think that we do assume that most of our students are 'digital natives' when that it's not always the case. Check out Barry Bachenheimer's post Top 5 Myths About Technology where he looks at Web 2.0 skills of students in his school district.

Michele said...

Sarah, I think you're right to return to the basics--I think that Twitter, etc. can be overwhelming to people, especially if they're struggling with how to just access the basic resources they need. I came across this link to help people figure out what search engines/resources to use that might be helpful:


Search and subscribing to feeds is one of the "back to basics" things I'm looking at right now as I definitely think these are skills people need and don't realize they don't have.

BTW--love the new look!

Sarah Stewart said...

Thank you both, Clair and Michele for your comments and links. I let you know how I get on with this approach.