Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Embedding the Second Life virtual birthing unit into midwifery education

I have been invited to the schools of midwifery at Hamilton and Wellington later in December to demonstrate the virtual birthing unit and brain storm ideas about how it can be embedded into midwifery education.

Plan for the sessions
I thought I'd break up the days into several sessions. The first session I will talk about the Second Life Education New Zealand (SLENZ) project and how the virtual birthing unit came about. I'll also describe exactly what the birth unit and normal birth scenario do and achieve. Then, I'll run a Second Life workshop and orientate the midwives to SL. At the same time I'll talk about some of the barriers to SL and how we can overcome them. In the last part of the day I'll ask the midwifery lecturers to brain storm how they could use the birth unit in their program next year.

Where does the birth unit sit in a three year midwifery program?
I haven't seen the SLENZ student evaluation so I feel a little as if I am groping in the dark. But my sense is there are three options for the birth unit:
  • orientation to the clinical context for first year students
  • activity for second year students as they learn about normal birth
  • revision activity for third year students.
In view of what I have heard from students, I wonder if the scenario is sophisticated enough for the senior students - I get the sense that it is more appropriate for junior students. We need to do more development, giving a wider range of options and variables before it will capture the attention of senior students. In the meantime, it is an ideal orientation tool for junior students - it makes them think and really stretches them, yet at the same time they feel safe because they are unable to 'harm' anyone and feel protected from the less forgiving real-life clinical situation.

Other options in Second Life for midwifery education
I was thinking that it would be worth talking about other resources in SL that midwifery educators could utilise in their program. The first thing that obviously comes to mind is the post-partum haemorrhage scenario that has been developed by the University of Auckland. There is also the heart murmur simulation and Genome Island.

The Virtual Hallucination may also be of value. I would love to see it adapted to fit the context of post-partum psychosis but it is still relevant to midwifery students who will come across women (and their families) who have mental health issues.

Working with midwifery educators outside New Zealand
I'd love to hear from any educators outside New Zealand (or outside midwifery) who are interested in using the birth unit and normal birth scenario in their own programs. I am very interested in setting up an international collaborative evaluation/study so please let me know if you'd like more information.

In my next blog post I'd like to talk more about how the birth unit and its impact on midwifery education can be evaluated.

Image: Visiting Genome Island


John Norris said...

Sounds like a great application for SL...good for you!

You might also use/discuss the use of SL for peer support. The use of SL not just as a formal educational tool. This would apply to midwives as well as Moms, Parents, etc...

Sarah Stewart said...

You're right John, but in this instance a resource has been developed using New Zealand tax payers money and I want to try and make sure that it is used by midwifery educators and doesn't just sit there.

My long term vision is for it to be used by anyone who is interested. My goal for next year is organise some virtual events based at the BU...would be great to have health consumers attend as well as health professionals...will have to put my thinking cap on.

John Norris said...

That's great!

Awhile back I was looking at the commercial maternity centers in SL, and thought they could be put to good educational use.* But seems you have really gone so much further.

If I can be of assistance, drop me a note. (I assume you know about SLED, SLHealthy, and healthcare@lists.secondlife.com)


Sarah Stewart said...

I have been thinking myself of how we could integrate the commercial maternity centres in midwifery education. One thought I have had is to hook up people wanting SL pregnancies and babies with our students to have a 'follow-though' experience not dissimilar to the real life experience they have. Any other ideas?

Thanks for the link you left me, John. I was able to follow and find the virtual blood vessel which I have been hunting around for but just couldn't find it.

John Norris said...

That might be interesting having the midwives work with the those folks.

You may need to be careful not to step on people's toes who are trying to make money on such a service.

I haven't seen many support groups for those that are pregnant, but I will keep an eye out. Mums and Dads Unite may be the closest.

Pam said...

This is so exciting to see this development.
I believe there are so many elements to this way of learning for students.
I am sure there are so many elements of learning for them in this secure environment than they realise at the time.

Merrolee said...

Hi Sarah
There are some OT's who work with women with post-partum psychosis who may be interested in either working with you to further develop your ideas (from the therapy perspective).. or may visit SL to partipate in the experiences... hmm.. would they be brave!

Sarah Stewart said...

@John yes I have noticed that all messages I have left on blogs of people who have had SL pregnancies have been ignored-maybe people don't want to mix their SL: life with their real life in this way.

@Pam Give me a shout one day & I'll show you around - would love your feedback

@Merrolee Must talk to you about this further :)

John Norris said...

Interesting about the lack of interest. Thanks for the feedback. I will keep it in mind.

Enjoyed getting the tour with the group last Thrs.

Sarah Stewart said...

Hi John, I have never done a session like that in SL before and have reflected that it could have been done more 'professionally'. Could you do my a favour and look on my post about the tour and give me any feedback that will help me with future presentations/tours. Thanks