Sunday, June 14, 2009

Proposal for the International Confederation of Midwives

One of my great passions is working out ways of bringing midwives together in a way that would never happen in a face-to-face context. One of the factors driving this is the necessity of supporting our sisters (and brothers) in an international context. Whilst face-to-face conferences is the preferred way of networking and updating oneself, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find the funding to attend conferences that you know you will benefit from.

Midwifery conferences
It isn't just midwives in so-called developing countries that cannot attend international conferences. With the effects of the global recession I would struggle to be able to go down the road to attend a conference. The costs of flights, accommodation and time off work make it prohibitive for many to attend conferences - I could make a couple of mortgage payments for the cost of attending a local conference. For the cost of going to a big international conference in the UK, I could put in a new kitchen in my house in New Zealand. And believe me, because of the state my kitchen is in... it gets first priority.

ICM triennial Congress 2011
The next ICM Triennial congress is in Durban in 2011. Along with many thousands of midwives I want to attend but don't know if I'll be able to afford it. Yet I also know that it will be a wonderful opportunity to update myself on what is going on in the midwifery world. I will also be missing out on an opportunity to present my own work.

My proposal to the organising committee of the next ICM Triennial Congress I would like to propose a number of options to the organising committee of the next ICM congress (and any other midwifery conference) for including those of us who cannot attend in reality. The range of technologies must include synchronous and asynchronous, and also allow for people who have restricted access to the Internet and computer technology. I would also like to consider how we include mobile phone technology.
  • Speakers beamed into from other locations using technology such as Skype or Elluminate.
  • Audio and video recordings published on sites such as YouTube or
  • Presentations published on websites such as Slideshare.
  • Live streaming of presentations.
  • Use of Twitter to encourage participation both in terms of sending out information and receiving comments.
  • Speakers beamed out of the conference as virtual 'break out' sessions using Elluminate, TinyChat and/or Second Life.
  • Interactive web site such as Facebook or blog that brings all these things together.
Anyone else got any other ideas about how to hook in an online audience at a conference? What has worked well for you in your experience of planning or attending a conference, both in real life or online?


Peta Hopkins said...

If would-be attendees are still willing to pay a smaller amount to attend, using elluminate or similar at a remote venue for a group to attend virtually might be a good idea. Someone would need to act as a local convenor and there would be the option for local face to face networking which individual web conference participants would otherwise miss out on altogether. It's also a way to make conferences greener - less air miles.

Sarah Stewart said...

Thanks for that, Peta. I always tend to think in terms of one person per computer, but as you say, there is no reason why a group of people cannot congregate around one computer. And I love the idea of pods of mini conferences all over the place - great idea - thanks a lot!

Sarah Stewart said...

Here are some more ideas from my Twitter network.

@dramagirl: Ustream - online audience can chat as the live presentation is given:

@Babs637: email and "tweets" (ie messages via Twitter)

@coolcatteacher: Ustream. Have a back channel for chat & a moderator who takes and answers questions from chat.

And @johart left suggestions for how to make online sessions with Elluminate a little more lively:



Peta Hopkins said...

I was actually thinking of something bigger than a few people gathering around a computer. More like 20-30 in a room with large screen, wifi, camera on the room so that can be streamed back to the main conference venue. I was at an Elluminate demonstration where the whole room of people were involved in a meeting with a group of 3 in the conference trade area and someone overseas - but there is no reason why several such rooms/gatherings could not participate. Each would need an elluminate host to facilitate.

Sarah Stewart said...

Thanks, Peta-great idea. I was also thinking about midwives who live in areas where they have very limited access to computers and/or Internet. Whatever ideas we come up with, we have to make sure we consider these people.

This leads me to this question: what about midwives who cannot get to a F2F conference or connected computer. I think for these people we need to be creative with mobile technology. Any ideas?