Sunday, July 12, 2009

The end of my excellent adventure

I cannot believe it but six months have whizzed by and I am back in New Zealand. The Aged Care Queensland eMentoring project has come to an end and we have sent off the final report to the Department of Health and Aging. We are also putting the final touches to the eMentoring CD ROM which will be available at the beginning of August.

With Alison Miller and Colin Warren:

The highs

The high points of my stay in Australia have been meeting people. I have particularly valued meeting those who I have known online but never met, such as my Australian Twitter friends. I have also enjoyed getting out and about and seeing a little of rural Queensland and getting to understand a little more about the learning and networking needs of rural Queenslanders and indigenous and Torres Strait people.

Members of the eMentoring project Reference Committee

The other huge high has been what we have achieved in the eMentoring project. I really feel that I have done two years' work in six months. It hasn't been perfect by a long chalk. But we have set down a framework that can be built on in the future if Aged Care Queensland decide to take the eMentoring concept further. And finally, I am very proud of the fact we are publishing the eMentoring CD ROM under a Creative Commons license.

The other highs have been discovering Krispy Kreme Doughnuts (the best doughnuts in the world!); my weekly trips to the Rosemary's Romance bookshop (the best romance book shop in the world!) and my mega shopping trip with my daughter, Ellen, on the Gold Coast just before I came home to New Zealand!

...and the lows
The main downside has been that I just have not had enough time to develop the eMentoring project in the way I would have liked. For example, I would have liked to have set up an online resource such as a blog or wiki to support the project but I have have not had time to do so. The time frame has also been far too short for the mentors and mentees to develop a relationship and achieve constructive long-term goals. However, feedback from the participants has been that they have learned about the potential of online communication tools for networking and collaboration, and are keen to explore them further.

The other devastating low was that I didn't really see a live kangaroo in the wild apart from a brief glimpse of one as I sped down the highway from the Sunshine Coast to Brisbane.

What I learned in the last six months
  • Project management is not as easy as it seems - working to tight time-frames can be very stressful at times. Always factor in that things will take at least twice as long as you think it will.
  • Effective time management is a vital part of successful project management.
  • Never make assumptions about what people know and think - spell everything out in words of one syllable.
  • People are really interested in the potential of collaborative online communication tools, but it takes considerable time and patience to teach people to use the tools and for them to engage with the tools in a meaningful way ie people have good intentions but you need to keep pushing/pulling them to take the next step.
  • For people to engage with social media in the workplace you need to show them how to integrate the tools into their work practices - show them what's in it for them.
  • I do not want to go back to teaching undergraduate midwifery students. My passion is professional development, life-long learning and networking for midwives, health professionals and across the board. That is what I want to teach and/or facilitate in one way or another.
  • I am a hot weather person! The Queensland climate suits me down to the ground!
Mentor and Mentee in the eMentoring project

Where to from here?

As far as Aged Care Queensland are concerned, I am sure this is just the beginning for them. There is certainly a huge need for mentoring, support, professional development and networking in the industry. So I hope I can continue to support ACQI in one way or another as they build on the foundations that I have laid.

As for me, personally...goodness only knows.

I have the SLENZ project to see to the end in the next couple of months. I am also co-facilitating the Otago Polytechnic "Facilitating Online" course with Leigh Blackall. I have renewed my midwifery annual practicing certificate and doing some locum rural midwifery at Lumsden for a couple of weeks. Then, there's the small matters of finishing my PhD and the Graduate Certificate in Tertiary Learning and Teaching that I am enrolled in. So...plenty to keep me out of mischief.

If you would like a copy of the eMentoring report and/or the CD ROM when they are available, please let me know.


Dot said...

Well done - it sounds like you've worked amazingly hard in your six months! Must be nice to be back with the family, though?

Good luck with finding the next step.

Sarah Stewart said...

Thanks, Dot. Yes, it is nice being home. It's a bit crazy at the moment, not having a permanent full time job, but I'm loving doing lots of smaller projects and taking time to take a stock of where my life is leading me.

willie campbell said...

what a great piece of learning and as with all learnings, finding your own place and dire3ction is critical.
Lumsden=warm weather? can't get that one.
Go well.

Sarah Stewart said...

Yes...well, Willie...Lumsden ended up being incredibly cold but the mountains covered with snow are a sight for sore eyes: