Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Virtual International Day of the Midwife 2012: Final report

Here is my final report about the Virtual International Day of the Midwife 2012, based on my own thoughts and the debrief document on the wiki, which I will be presenting to the committee in a few days. If you have any feedback you would like me to present along with this report, please feel free to leave a comment.

1.  Speakers
We have now got to a point where we don't have to take "first come, first serve". Next year we really will be able to use the "submit by" date, and choose speakers according to merit and relevance. This will also help us decide whether we need to run concurrent sessions, or even extend the conference to 2 days, as opposed to one day.  In order to make these sorts of decisions, we may need to start calling for EOI earlier. At the same time we need to make sure we maintain our "unconference" feel so we do not become too academic, and discourage midwives who otherwise would have have a voice in this sort of arena.
  • We do not know if the topics of the sessions are relevant to midwives in resource-poor countries, so I would like us to think more carefully about this. Recommendation: Invite midwife representation from resource-poor countries to be on the committee, and give us feedback about topics for sessions.
  • The vast majority of speakers were very diligent about checking in with their facilitators before the day, making sure their technology worked, and ensuring their slides were appropriate. In the one instance when a speaker did not do this, the session was very difficult to manage, and the overall satisfaction with the session was decreased. Recommendation: Speakers are given a date by which they check in with their facilitator etc. If they do not comply, they will not be allowed to give their presentation. 
  • Recommendation:  We need speakers to prepare a short biography so we can introduce them more professionally than we did this year.
  • Recommendation: Speakers will be required to use some sort of presentation to make it easier for participants to follow their talk. We also received feedback that participants would like access to the presentations in a separate format from the session recordings.
  • The Maori welcome was especially well received by participants. Recommendation: Rotate an indigenous welcome around countries eg ask an Australian Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander midwife to welcome us next year.
2. Technology
I was very pleased with how Adobe Connect performed. Any problems that we had were mostly due to human error, or because the user's internet connection was poor.
  • The main technological problem was that we did not have enough seats - 100 seats were not enough, especially for the more popular sessions (this is reflected in the evaluation feedback). Recommendation: To remain with Adobe Connect next year to consolidate our skills, but find some way of accessing a room with a minimum of 200 seats.If we cannot do that, then look for an alternative such as Wiziq.
  • The evaluation shows that the vast majority of people access the VIDM from home, and from their lap tops and PCs. Recommendation: Think how we can bring the VIDM to more organisations and facilities. Also explore how we can make it more "mobile".
  • In the feedback a few people said the information on how to use the technology needed to be improved - this is an ongoing issue to be addressed each year.
  • Recommendation: Speakers must be required to use headsets - integrated mics do not work well and cause a lot of echo and background noise. If they cannot or will not use a headset, they will not be allowed to present. 
3. Facilitation
From my perspective the model we use, that of master facilitation and facilitation works well. It would be good to get more master facilitators next year to lighten our load. Having said that, it is good to "master facilitate" a few sessions to get a sense of how things are working in a more global sense.
  • I thought the facilitators did really well, especially considering a number of them were new to the job.  However, I think the same applies to facilitators as does the speakers - facilitators must be involved from the outset so they understand what is going on, and why certain decisions have been made the way they have.
  • The format of the room, and decisions about using webcams were changed during the day. I don't know why this was, or who made that decision. It would be good to keep to the format that the masters facilitators decided on before the day, so there is no confusion at the time. Recommendation: To give speakers the opportunity to use webcam if they wish, as long as it does not interfere with the quality of the session. Also, to keep the chat box enlarged, so that it is easier for the facilitator to follow questions and comments.
  • There were one or two comments from speakers and participants that they would have preferred a facilitator who was a midwife, because the facilitator understood the topic. Maybe one day we will have that capacity, but in the meantime we rely very heavily on facilitators who are not midwives, who volunteer for the job because of their commitment to learning. I am extremely grateful to these facilitators, and think this feedback is a little unfair. Having facilitators and participants who are not midwives adds to the diversity and richness of the event.
4. Advertising
Feedback shows that Facebook and email is the most effective way of advertising the VIDM.  But people also wanted more information about the VIDM beforehand, so they knew when, where and why they should attend.
  • Feedback also suggested a newsletter may be helpful to advertise more fully. However, I am not sure how we can do more than we already do. I send email updates via the main email lists, VIDM wiki, Facebook page and my contacts. Any other ideas?
  • Recommendation: Prepare a press release that can be sent to the media in our respective countries.
  • Do we need sponsorship next year to expand? If so, what do we need it for? If we decide we do need sponsorship, someone will need to take charge of this and prepare a sponsorship package to start seeking this soon, so companies can budget for it next financial year.
  • Do we need a more professional-looking website? The advantage is it will look more professional. The disadvantages are that it will cost us, and stops us modelling how "free stuff" can be used effectively for professional development.
5. Social media
Having several people "dedicated" to run the Facebook page and Twitter account certainly worked, in my view.  Our followers and reach increased. We recruited speakers and facilitators via FB. In the feedback, over 60% participants found out about VIDM via Facebook, as opposed to 30% email.
  • What is our ongoing social media strategy? Do we keep the FB page ticking over with, say, weekly posts? Or do we leave it unattended until we start again for 2013?
  • Recommendation: Write a paper about how we use social media and technology for this event.
6. Evaluation
I have only looked at the evaluation quickly. We received 99 responses -  84 from people who attended, 15 from others. Here are the key points that I haven't already mentioned:
  • Majority of respondents were students or clinical midwives, mostly 30-39, & 50-59 years old.
  • Majority of respondents came from USA, UK, Australia. Other respondents came from Bermuda, Canada, Brazil Cyprus, Denmark, Ethiopia, Kenya, Slovenia, Netherlands, Jordan, Germany, Greece, Latvia, Peru, Portugal and Slovenia .
  • Most attendees rated VIDM 2012 very good or good. The main reason people didn't attend was because they were working.
  • In order to attend next year, respondents felt they needed time, adequate technology, and digital competence and confidence.
  • What people liked about the VIDM were (and this reflects what has been said in previous evaluations): a sense of belonging to an international community; opportunity to learn for free, in easily accessible and flexible environment; being able to access eminent speakers. 
  • Recommendation: Write up evaluation report and publish on FB page as well as wiki. Also, submit for publication in midwifery journal.
  • To increase response rate next year, shall we link the attendance certificate to the survey, so attendees only get their certificate on completion of the survey?
7. Other thoughts, recommendations and questions
  • Next year the 5th May falls on a Sunday. Do we stay true to the spirit of the day and hold the conference on Sunday, or do we change it? Keep in mind that this year fell on Saturday, and we did not change it for midwives who have their spiritual day of rest on Saturdays.
  • This year's conference ended rather abruptly. Should we develop some sort of slideshow to play next year, or some other such activity, to end the conference in a nicer way?
  • Should we require participants to register so we have a better sense of who will be attending?  The disadvantage of this is it may cause a barrier for some people.
  • I am planning one more year as VIDM facilitator. Do we need to start succession planning now? Alongside this question is whether we make more concrete moves to integrate the VIDM with a midwifery organisation such as the International Confederation of Midwives? The president of the ICM is very interested in talking to us about this. The advantage is that it will support us to get bigger and better. But at the same time, it may mean handing over some control, which may impact on the spirit of the VIDM.
  • I think we need to think about how we keep conversation going after the conference. We need to encourage speakers to leave their presentations, and provide an area for people to leave comments and questions to speakers. And....an area where people can start the conversation even before the conference. The Facebook page is already preforming this, to some extent. Do we put our energies into making this our official conversation space. Or do we look at something else? I don't think enough people understand how wiki works to make the VIDM wiki our official space, although it has the technological capacity to do it. Here is an example of how another online conference is organised, which is based on Moodle: http://2012.imoot.org If we decide to do something separate again, like this example, we will probably need to pay someone.
Do you have any additional thoughts, questions or recommendations?


Chris Woodhouse said...

Good report Sarah.
I agree with being strict with speakers on pre-conference arrangements and on using headsets.
I think facilitators need to be facilitators first. It would be great to have all our facilitators to be midwives, whether current or ex. But where we have to choose, it's more important, IMO, to be a skilled facilitator.
I think we should stay with 5th May. There's always a chance of coinciding with the sacred day of a faith, but if we acknowledge this each year, I think that's OK. Let's keep in step with the UN's Day of the Midwife.
We should start succession planning now. It's conceivable something might prevent you from organising VIDM 2013, so being ready for that would be highly professional.
I think we should encourage speakers to make their presentations available, and we should sort out a sharing mechanism - something like SlideShare.
Not sure about getting participants to pre-register. We could end up with quite an admin burden.

Gloria Lemay said...

Thanks so much for this all-encompassing report, Sarah. Agree with Chris' comments above. Would hate to see ICM take over the VIDM as I think it would change the flavour completely. Can not imagine anyone but YOU master minding VIDM, quite frankly. As you know, I'm a big fan of WizIq and they are really co-operative and flexible. I think my classes there can hold 900 students. I have a professional membership there and it's ridiculously cheap. I would be glad to pay for VIDM to have that capability. It's so gratifying to see the numbers grow each year. Much love and appreciation to you. Gloria in Vancouver BC

Sarah Stewart said...

Hello Gloria and Chris, thank you both for your feedback which I fed back to the committee meeting last night. I'll send you the final report from that meeting once I've written it up. thanks Sarah