Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A note to the sceptics

I often meet resistance to the idea of social networking and online collaboration. The common themes are that people do not feel the time taken to build a network and learn online communication tools is worth the effort. They do not see any benefit compared to the learning, networking and collaboration opportunities they receive in their face-to-face context.

Here's a little story about the value of social networking to me.

I have been talking to Dallas Knight, mostly via Twitter and our blogs, for the last couple of years. Dallas is a PhD candidate at the University of Otago. Her interest is health informatics, and her research is looking at how midwives and pregnant women use technology. I have to admit we have met a couple of times, but our relationship has been built online. We share resources and news, we have discussions...which sometimes we don't agree on...and we support each other in our various interests.

A few months ago, I was invited by Tosh Sheshabalaya, the Managing Editor of 'Healthcare IT Management', to write an article about how New Zealand midwives use technology. I was confident to write about the use of the Internet for professional development and education, but I had no idea what midwives were using for things like practice management. So I asked Dallas if she would co-author the article with me.

The foundation of the article came from a blog post that I was invited to write by Carol Cooper-Taylor for her website 'The eLearning Site' called 'Getting midwives connected', and an ensuing conversation Dallas and I had about midwives' use of the Internet.

We used Google Documents, Skype and Twitter to write our article. For most of the time, I was based in Pakistan and Dallas was back in New Zealand, so we had no chance to meet face-to-face to discuss the article.

The process was remarkably easy. Our extensive online conversations has got us to the point that we can critique each other's work in a constructive way without giving/taking offence. Working in Google Documents made the collaborative writing process extremely easy. The only problem we had to deal with was my wonderful ability to procrastinate...but Dallas graciously took that in her stride.

I don't know about Dallas, but I am extremely pleased with the collaborative process and the end product. I'll let you know when the article becomes available.

Do you have any stories like this about your online social networking that has resulted in an outcome like this one?

Image: 'Meadow of Yellow Flowers and Mountains'


Unknown said...

Thanks for the note about the photo.

Re: Blog subject
The two guys who started this satirical web site began as commenters on other people's web sites and got to know each other that way. They got together on their own site which was reviewed in the NY Times a couple weeks ago.

Satire Warning....

Sarah Stewart said...

Thanks for the comment, Louis. I have to say that your photo had nothing to do with the blog post...I just love the photo :)

Anonymous said...

Excellent article Sarah, love the concept of who we can collaborate with other experts in our fields, whereever they may be in the world. Exciting times indeed. I'll be checking out Dallas's research on health informatics around maternity care - of great interest to me.

Sarah Stewart said...

I'm loving Dallas's work because she is not a midwife and is completely unbiased. She is finding some very interesting stuff about how midwives communicate with women...some of which I think midwives will find challenging. Get in touch with her...I know she'll love to hear from you: Twitter...@starpath

Here is a link to an interview I had with her about her research:

JC said...

Hi Sarah, during my leadership and management workshops I always ask the question about use of social media when we talk about communication and collaboration. I get a mixture of total ignorance or negative reactions from about 70% of those there. I have been using you and your use of online tools as a case study for the past 12 months. We will meet one day and by then I will owe you lunch for showing the way and providing such an excellent case study.
John Coxon

Sarah Stewart said...

Thanks John...I'll hold you to that LOL Are you in Melbourne...2-5th November? I am over for a conference.

Rachael Lowe said...

Hi Sarah, I have a similar story to you....

I met Dr Eric Robertson, a fellow physiotherapist from the USA, on-line when he offered to guest post on my blog, Physiospot, back in 2007. Following this we collaborated on the foundation and subsequent development of Physiopedia, an international open wiki for physiotherapists. Eric's students then completed formal and informal assignments in Physiopedia as part of their physiotherapy education. Last year Eric invited me to present an education session in the technology section of the APTA conference in Boston. We wrote our presentation collaboratively using Dropbox and met for the first time when I travelled to Boston from the UK to give our presentation. Throughout this journey we have communicated using Google Talk, Twitter and Skype, and have collaborated on projects in Google Docs, Dropbox and Physiopedia.

International collaboration has never been so easy, effective and good for international professional relations!

starpath said...

Being an ‘outsider’ and exploring the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) in midwifery service delivery has given me an appreciation of the services midwives provide and in particular the generosity of the service provided to New Zealand women where midwives provide fully autonomous primary maternity care. Collaborating with Sarah via Twitter, Skype and Google Docs has been a huge pleasure and I am looking forward to publication of our paper in ‘Healthcare IT Management’ journal. Sarah’s original research looked at ‘The use of Internet resources by midwives in New Zealand’.

My research has given me the opportunity to interview both midwives and women to explore the technologies they have, how they are used and their value. As Sarah has pointed out, my take is from a Health Informatics perspective, which may sometimes be challenging to midwives.

Distance collaboration was fun, especially when I needed to chat and noticed Sarah was online without knowing she was at the airport en route from Pakistan back to New Zealand. Waiting for flights is often down time but not in this instance. I look forward to further collaboration.

Sarah Stewart said...

@Rachel I have heard about Dropbox but not really used it...must have another look :)

@Dallas Look forward to further collaboration...if you can bear to put up with my procrastination :)

Carolyn said...

Just thought I would let I read this post and comments and have now also made contact with Dallas, so thanks Sarah.