Saturday, December 24, 2011

Starting to plan for the Virtual International Day of the Midwife 2012

I don't know where the years go. It seems that we get one VIDM over with and then we're starting to plan another. This is our 4th year and we're hoping for a fabulous program and lots of you midwives, students and people interested in birth will be able to join us.

On our committee this year is Deborah Davis, Mary Sidebotham, Pamela Harndon, Chris Woodhouse and Lorraine Mockford. Here are the minutes of our first 2012 VIDM committee meeting.

1. Virtual meeting room
We will be using Adobe Connect this year instead of Elluminate. One of the advantages of Adobe Connect is that it by-passes firewalls so should be easier to use in organizations such as hospitals. We will hold all our committee meetings in the room from now on so we can get as skilled as we possible with using the technology.
2. Extending the VIDM committee
We decided we would keep the committee as is for the time being so it doesn't get too big to manage, but we will shoulder tap people to help us out with specific jobs so the workload is shared as much as possible.

3. Affiliation with the ICM
Following various discussions with staff of the International Confederation of Midwives, we are going to investigate if we can become affiliated to the ICM. This will increase our coverage, give us more credibility and hopefully attract more midwives from developing countries.
  • Will invite ICM president, Frances Day-Stirk to open the day. The time we start the day will depend on if/when she is available to join us.
4. VIDM wiki:
I have made a start on editing the wiki in preparation for next year. If you have any ideas on how we can make it more user-friendly or jazz it up, please feel free to either let me know or edit the wiki yourself.

5. Facilitators
We'll be needing 24 facilitators who are able to facilitate each session, manage the virtual room, support the speakers and audience. We will also need at least four "master facilitators" who will take four to six hour slots and take over-all charge of what's going on, including stewarding the technology and supporting the facilitators. If you would be interested in helping out with either role, please let me know.

6. Speakers
After Christmas we will put out a call for EOI for speakers. We will also be shoulder tapping people. A speaker may wish to:
  • present an aspect of his/her practice;
  • lead a discussion on an aspect of practice or professional issue;
  • present the results of research, audit or project;
  • do something completely different.
We would especially like to invite student midwives, health consumers and midwives from developing countries. We would also like to invite speakers whose first language is not English - we would love to have some sessions in a language other than English. So if you're interested in being a speaker, please let me know. 

Don't can follow us on Facebook and Twitter to find out the latest news. 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Shame on the British Journal of Midwifery

I was just about to submit an article for publication in the British Journal of Midwifery when I  found out that it has gone into partnership with the milk formula company, Cow and Gate, to sponsor the "Innovating for life" awards. This is the only midwifery journal in the UK to continue an association with a milk formula company, and causes ethical problems for midwives. Milk companies have one reason for working with midwives and that is to get us to promote bottle feeding. If women choose to bottle feed, that's their choice. But it is my professional role as a midwife to promote and support breastfeeding which has been proven to be the more beneficial method of infant feeding. For those of you who don't get's like AA being sponsored by Guinness.

I have now decided not to publish in the BJM, and submit the article somewhere else. I for one do not want to be associated with practices that cause such conflict of interest in relation to infant feeding. In the meantime, you can find out more from the Facebook page "British Journal of Midwifery- You can't be Serious!"


Policy on infant formula industry funding, support or sponsorship of articles submitted for publication. Annette Beasley and Lisa H Amir. International Breastfeeding Journal 2007, 2:5 doi:10.1186/1746-4358-2-5

15 tricks of formula companies.  Ange13.

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Using social media to get yourself elected

I have been asked to advise and help a colleague use social media get herself elected onto the board of a professional organization. I have to admit I have never done something quite like this before, but it is not dissimilar to the marketing I have done for the Virtual International Day of the Midwife and such like.

First step
If I was going to vote for someone in an election, I would want to:
  • know all the political stuff. In other words, what are the candidate's policies, philosophy and plans for the future?
  • see she reacts to current issues as they crop up;
  • interact with the candidate...ask her questions...learn more about her thinking. Some times it is a little scary talking to a famous person or political figure in the face-to-face environment, whereas it doesn't take much nerve to leave a question on Facebook;
  • get to know the candidate...not just on a professional level, but also get to know her as a person.
What can we learn from Barack Obama?
With these questions in mind, I have turned to Barack Obama for information on how he ran his extremely successful presidential campaign in  2008. Much has been written  about the way Barack Obama used social networking. Needless to say, he had staff to run his campaign as well as significant funding. The majority of us are involved in campaigns that are a lot less ambitious. However, the core of what Obama did was interact with people. He ran a two-way campaign...he didn't just push out information but he responded to people...and got involved with them in any way he could.

About social media for campaigning
So here are a few key messages about social media and campaigning, be it an election campaign, marketing a product, fund raising or promoting an event or idea.
  • Don't expect social media to make you instant fame and fortune (or votes). You have to put time and effort into making posts, comments, responding to people and generating conversations.
  • Social networking is about exactly that...being social. In effect what you are doing is building a community around your product. Keeping in mind the 1% rule...that only 1% people will actively engage with you online,  you've got your work cut out, which takes us back to the first point I made.
  • Use the technology that people are already using. There's no point in setting up a Twitter account if everyone you want to reach is on Facebook. At the same time, the more distributed you are, the more people you are likely to reach. 
  • Be consistent with your brand ie if you develop a logo or photo of yourself, use that on all your pages and sites so you have consistency and are easily recognised. 
  • Remember a large number of people still use email, as well as cell phones. So think how you can utilize email newsletters and texts to keep people up to date with what you're doing.
  • You need to think how you're going to continue after the campaign. Social networking is a long term option not just a quick fix for electioneering or selling a product. You will lose credibility with your supporters if you do not continue to engage with them, especially if they elected you into the position you were after.
Tips and tricks for campaigning

Having had a read around of blog posts such as The Barack Obama guide to social media marketing success by Rod Kirby and 50 social media tactics for non-profits by Chad Norman, as well as my own experience I have come up with a few ideas for the basic use of social media for campaigning.

  1. Set up a YouTube channel and post short videos introducing yourself and discussing your thoughts, policies and ideas. Make them no longer than a couple of minutes.  Not only do you introduce your ideas but you give voters the chance to see what you look and sound like. Invite questions and comments, and always respond them...maybe with another video.
  2. Set up a Facebook page. Use plenty of images because that is what catches the eye. Make sure you keep your wall up-to-date because that is what readers notice first. If you are running a campaign for a short period of time, post a comment or piece of information at least daily. Connect up with other Facebook pages that have similar interests and where your audience usually hangs out. Invite your voters to contribute to your page by asking questions and adding their own comment, but make sure you always respond. Run polls for example, to find out what the main issues are that voters wish you to address. Share information that your readers will be interested in. Connect your Facebook page to your cell phone so you can monitor the page when you are away from your computer.
  3. Set up a Twitter account. Devise a unique hashtag, such as #electme which you use every time you post a comment and encourage others to use it so you can follow what others say. Monitor what people are saying about you using tools such as Tweetdeck. Send out tweets at least four times a day and always answer comments or questions. Connect up with influential people in your area that already use Twitter.
  4. Create a blog. Facebook and Twitter are fine for short and sweet messages, but for longer, in-depth ponderings it is better to have a blog. This can save you money if you have a blog rather than a website. You can use various widgets to feed in your Twitter and Facebook posts (and visa versa). Publish a post at least three times a week. Make it relevant, easy to read, not too long and use lots of images.
  5. Connect with voters. When you can, meet up with followers face-to-face with activities such as tweet-ups to give people a chance to meet you. An alternative is virtual meetings with webinars using free meeting rooms such as Wiziq.
If you want to know more, just "Google" social media and marketing or browse around the Mashable website

What tips would you pass on for successful campaigning using social media, be it for an election, marketing or fund raising?

Image: 'Tweet.'

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Why is it my kids don't like Skype?

I don't know what it is but I just cannot get my kids (grown up now) to use Skype for audio and video calling. I have been using Skype for years and never have any problems with it. It is easy to use and provides excellent quality calls to one or more (up to about four in my experience) people. But my son and daughter have always rejected Skype.

A couple of years ago, it was all about MSN. Now it is about Facebook. I don't know how long it's been possible to use Facebook for video calls, but I was introduced to it a couple of evenings ago. It appears to work well and integrates seamlessly into Facebook chat. I can see why my children prefer to use Facebook because all modes of communication are merging into one application, which make life so much easier.

As for me, I feel slightly uncomfortable about putting all my eggs into one basket...especially into the Facebook basket. So I am going to be a fuddy duddy and continue to spread myself around...around Skype, Facebook, and Google...although, I know you'll remind me that Facebook now owns Skype. What I would like to try next is find out more about the integration between Skype and Facebook.

What is your favorite tool for audio and video calls? Have you had any experience of calling Facebook friends via Skype? If so, how does it work?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Trying out Facebook timeline on us poor Kiwis

Us poor saps in New Zealand are being given the "honor" of trying out the new Facebook Timeline before the rest of the world gets it. At first glance it looks very confusing and I ask the same question I often ask...why fix what ain't broke?! But I guess we'll all get used to it because...what else would we use instead of Facebook?!

Here's my Facebook page if you want to go and check out the new look:

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Trying to decide between two topics for my EdD research

After dithering around all year I have my EdD research down to two topics. I am not sure which way to go, so would really appreciate your feedback.

My first idea is looking at the outcomes of the Virtual International Day of the Midwife. This is a free online conference for midwives that is about to go into its fourth year. This research would look at how health professionals connect with each other using social media; how they engage with informal learning; how e-learning is used for professional development. And into this also comes issues around open access, life-long learning, volunteerism, connectivism...all my favorite subjects and subjects that are just starting to appear in scholarly publications.

The other topic that has just cropped up for me is somewhat do health professionals use social media for e-portfolio, reflection and professional development? What I would really like to do is track my learning and professional development via my blog which has over four years of data and comments to explore. What I do not know about credible is self-analysis in research...and how do you go about it? Into this topic would come much of what I have talked about for the first media, connectivism, life-long learning, confidentiality, collaborative reflection, risks to health professionals.

The difference between the two topics is the first one is about other people and their learning and the second topic would be about my learning. The appeal of the second topic is that there is little literature taking a long term look at e-portfolio and blogging, especially from the practitioner's point of view. Most the literature about reflection etc looks in the short term and in the education setting. The data is already there so I do not need to worry about recruiting participants. But I may need to go through an ethics process to include the comments that people have left on my blog. The first topic is highly relevant as health professionals are looking at alternative and cheaper modes of learning for professional development. I think the outcomes from research into the VIDM would interest managers and organisations as well as health professionals and educators.

I really am in a quandary and would really appreciate any thoughts or feedback......

What is the sexiest topic? What would contribute the most to education and health literature? What do you think would gain me the most fame and fortune? What do you think would be most "credible" and help my career development the most? What do you think is the most do-able?

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