The week started off with a hiss and a roar, with our first Elluminate (online web conference) meeting.
- Used cellphone text to remind everyone about the meeting
- Rang the students before the meeting I knew had not previously connected with Elluminate to offer technical support, but in fact all offers were declined.
- I chose to have the meeting in the evening, hoping that this would better suit people who worked during the day. Everyone was able to attend apart from one midwife who got caught up at work.
I was totally blown away by the ease with which the students took to Elluminate. We did not have one technological problem. YEY! At this point I would like to thank David McQuillan who volunteered to stand by on Skype in case I needed a hand.
In the previous week's survey I asked students about their computer skills. One student felt very confident; four students had basic skills but felt they would need help with Elluminate; one student felt she would need help with everything. But the way the students took to Elluminate makes me think they under estimated their abilities. Having said that, a few students have had previous experience with Skype, so they were able to transfer their skills.
This leaves me with the question: is computer literacy for midwives more about confidence than competence?
The first session
Instant messaging was no problem. Nearly all the students had microphones so could talk, and those who didn't have one said they'd get one. We had a play with the white board to brainstorm our philosophy and we uploaded photos of ourselves.
- I went over time and finished nearer 9pm than 8.30. By that time I was getting tired, and I think the midwives were as well. Action: Keep to time because I think one hour is more than long enough for an online session without break.
- I used a class whiteboard brainstorming session to try and break things up, and appeal to visual learners in the group. I didn't feel the whiteboard exercise went as well as it could - the result wasn't half as pretty as I have seen when experts like Nancy White has done it. But then, this is the first time I have used this exercise. I might need to give better instructions and have a clearer idea of what I want to achieve next time. I left this segment to the end and ran out of the time to do the session justice. I also have to recognize that I am not a very artistic person; I see things in words as opposed to pictures, so I don't feel as comfortable with this teaching method. Action: Learn more about facilitating online whiteboard, brainstorming sessions, and keep honing my skills.
- Need to learn how to capture the whiteboard as a screen shot.
- I advertised the session at the last minute on my blog, and was surprised that the session was attended by an undergraduate midwifery student. From my point of view, I thought that worked really well. The midwifery student was able to add a fresh perspective which I found uplifting, speaking as an 'old' midwife who gets quite tired and cynical at times. I think the other midwives enjoyed this as well. I haven't had any feedback to gainsay that. But then again, would the midwives feel able to give that feedback knowing that I am so keen to promote open networking? The motivation for the student attending the session was that she had an assignment on reflective practice coming up, and wanted to know a little more. I am not sure how helpful she found it, but she stayed for the whole meeting which was fabulous as far as I was concerned.
- I recorded the session for the midwife who was unable to attend. But I haven't published the recording to the open environment because we did talk about some personal things, which is what you'd expect in a discussion about personal philosophy of practice. I'm the first to admit that some things just must stay within the class.
- Anonymous feedback from the survey shows three students thought the session was great and cannot wait until the next one.
I don't think we are developing a community of practice, but I thought there was a community feel to our meeting, which I do not see so much in our asynchronous blog discussions. Everyone joined in with discussion and chat, whereas the course blog discussions are mostly between two or three people. It will be very interesting to see what form of communication the midwives feel more comfortable with, and most beneficial for their learning.
What form of communication do you prefer as student and teacher, particularly in regards to the facilitation of learning; synchronous (voice/video) or asynchronous (email/blog/discussion board)?
Image: 'group airtime' *vlad*