Saturday, May 14, 2011

Thinking about the Virtual International Day of the Midwife 2011

The Virtual International Day of the Midwife came and went last week. On the whole I think the day went well, and now I am left with gathering feedback and putting a report together. There are heaps of thoughts buzzing around in my head and I am not sure where to start with my reflections about the day. So here I am dumping down a load of random things which hopefully will emerge into themes in my feedback report.

1. Participants
We had people attend from all over the developed world but I would say the main places were New Zealand, USA and Australia. The average number of seats taken were 50 per session. The highest number was 119 and lowest number was about 38. This was up marginally on last year but there were more highs and lows, whereas last year, we had a more consistent attendance. It is difficult to say exactly how many people attended because I know there were instances of more than one person gathered around one computer.

I would have liked to have seen higher numbers. There was not the incremental increase in numbers this year as there was last year. As I said in a previous post, we have not had half as many followers on our Facebook page as we did have last year. However, when we compare ourselves with major international online educational conferences, this attendance is fabulous.

2. Technology
Elluminate really behaved itself. I know of at least two people who were unable to log in - one of those people, I think, had firewall problems in the hospital where she worked. On the day, four speakers had various problems but were able to get around them in one way or another with the support of their facilitator.

I was reluctent to use seperate rooms because I thought we'd lose people every time we moved. However, this did not seem to be a problem. Having seperate rooms meant I had immediate access to the recordings and had them linked to our website before the end of the day.

3. Organisation
A lot of time went into the organisation of the day by both myself and the organising committee. Some times I do question whether that time is "worth it" especially considering we do this purely for love. However, there have been benefits to the time spent getting things ready beforehand.
  • The website looks a lot better and is easier to navigate thanks to the feedback that was freely given by my Twitter mates Ian Simpson and Sue Hickton
  • All the speakers turned up. I am sure this is because each speaker had a designated facilitator to keep them on track - this included the opportunity to practice with the technology before the day.
  • I became a lot more organised with how I used my email, setting up groups in Gmail - I have no idea why it's taken me so long to sort this out.
  • A time line was set up in Google Docs which helped keep us on track. It was also really helpful to keep notes on a planning page in the VIDM wiki.
  • Another time-saving element was putting information for facilitators and speakers on the wiki - this saved me time cutting and pasting information into individual emails. Having said that, it was apparent that people did not go to the wiki and read the instructions even though they were asked to.
4. Speakers
We had a marvelous array of speakers and topics. I had to turn down three speakers because we had a full program, and I had several people say they would like to present next year. The highlight for me was having non-midwives join us such as Julie Neild (occupational therapist), Sonya Cameron and Dallas Knight (PhD students looking at issues that impact on midwives in one way or another). Next year I'd like to get a few consumers on board.

5. Facilitators
The facilitators were absolutely marvellous and were key to the success of the day, in my opinion. It certainly made my job a lot easier. I was able to relax, and even get some sleep during the night.
  • The facilitators came from my personal learning network (PLN), so were not necessarily midwives, but were experienced online facilitators. I am extremely grateful to them and humbled that they would donate so much of their time to support me and this project. So a big 'thank you' to these guys:
  • Angela Hook, Annette Dalsgaard Vilain, Chris Woodhouse, Clarissa Adriel, Carole McCulloch, Gloria Lemay, Jillian Clarke, Lorraine Mockford, Peter Brook and Sue Hickton.
6. Organising committee
It was fabulous to have a team of people working with me to organise the event. It gave the event a community feel as opposed to me working all by myself. In particular I appreciated having someone take responsibility for the Twitter and Facebook accounts, and have people to bounce ideas around with. So again, grateful thanks to:
  • Deborah Davis, Mary Sidebotham, Lorraine Mockford, Pam Harnden and Chris Woodhouse.
7. Recordings
I have had several requests to turn the recordings into mp3 and mp4 formats so people can download them onto their iphones. But to be honest, I feel a bit stuck. I need a website where I can host large files (approximately 150 mb) and where people can go to download the files. If you have any sugegestions, I'd really like to hear them. I have used in the past but I cannot see how you download files from that website.

8. What about next year?
I am waiting to get full feedback from the organising committee and to review the feedback. However, here are a few thoughts I have about next year.
  • Have to look at how we can become more "mainstream" without losing our autonomy. I would like to discuss how we become better integrated with the International Confederation of Midwives which is our international governing body.
  • May need to look for another organisation to sponsor our web conference platform. My contract with Otago Polytechnic ends this year so I do not know if I'll be able to continue the VIDM work with them. Plus, OP is moving to Adobe Connect so I am not sure how that will fit in with VIDM.
  • We really need to focus on our advertising rather than depending on the event going viral. Any suggestions about how we do that will be gratefully received.
  • I am wondering if we need something like a newsletter to communicate with people in the lead up to next year. But that will take time and committment and may be too much of an ask. What do you think?
9. Succession planning
I have been thinking about how I pass on this event. I promised myself I would work on it for five years unless it was clear that it was not a sustainable event. I think it will continue to grow but I also need to think about how to hand over the reins and who to, when I finish facilitating it in 2013. Any ideas about that?

Once again, a very big thank you to everyone involved; speakers, facilitators and participants - hope to see you (and your friends) again next year.


Anonymous said...

It was a wonderful event and I appreciate all your hard work!!
Best Wishes

Pam said...

Hi Sarah,

I know it may be a concern about the numbers but if you take into account the unexpected surge in numbers last year it maybe that the numbers will increase as a stepping effect and I think it is only possible to review the numbers after 2013.

I think also looking at the average typical conference numbers may be useful too.

The concurrent session where I was a presenter in The passage to Motherhood conference had 40 attendees and there would have been amazing numbers for the big names of Michel Odent, Maggie Banks and Sara Wickham which wouldn't be dissimilar to the session in VIDM with Gloria Lemay after all most hotel conference rooms have limited seating.

I think there was also an issue with it clashing with this conference. i would probably have liked to have seen a session streamed into the College of Midwives dinner that I was at.

Sarah Stewart said...

I think you've hit the nail of the head about getting the event better known by the national bodies like NZCOM, ACMI etc and educate them as to how you can do live streaming etc. That is our challenge for next year, I believe.

Dr. Domingo Liotta said...

hello sarah:

(Malcolm Lewis sent me this way)

Per your request of a place to store large files
Let me assist you with your
Its not a problem at all You can store large files on Dropbox It also lets you share it with anyone Its a cloud computing backup of 2 GB
Just go here and signup :)
Be well

Ignatia/Inge de Waard said...

Hi Sarah (got your questions via Malcolm Lewis)

What I usely do to reformat Elluminate sessions into mobile accessible files is record the screen + audio of the sessions via Camtasia (there is a 30 day free trail version: )

With Camtasia you can record the screen and audio of the Elluminate session;
You can then edit the recording (maybe shorten some points, or skip immediately to where the session starts without the intro);
produce the edited movie into a format of your preference (mp4, mp3).

You do have to take into account getting used to Camtasia, but it is an intermediately easy software (btw I am only an eLearning developer, not a Camtasia person :-D )

There is a usefuly tutorial here (14 minutes)

After I have produced my Elluminate session into mobile formats, I cut them up into videos no larger than 15 minutes and load them up to youtube (youtube does not allow videos larger than 15 minutes). This allows people with a variety of devices to look at the reformatted Elluminate movies.

Hope this helps,
Best wishes,

Sarah Stewart said...

Hello Domingo, thanks for the suggestion of Dropbox. Can you tell me...can you use it to store files and then make them available to anyone who is passing...without an account? If you look at this website, you'll see what I am trying to achieve.

Sarah Stewart said...

Hello Inge

thank you very much for your suggestions. Thankfully, I have access to Elluminate Publish which turns the sessions into mp3/4 files so I do not need to worry about that.

I have 24 sessions to manage so to be honest, I do not have time to cut them up into 15 minute segments, but I do see how useful that would be if it was only 1 session.

Sarah Stewart said...

Suggestion from Peta on Twitter:
Use Internet Archive