Monday, January 7, 2008

Am I a Web 2.0 teacher?

I have just recently read a post on 'The Thinking Stick' by Jeff Utecht in which he poses a series of questions that you can use to assess yourself in order to ascertain if you are a Web 2.0 teacher or not. Keeping in mind that I am involved with teaching undergraduate and postgraduate midwives online, I thought it would be fortuitous if I assessed myself using Jeff's questions.

Jeff has used three levels at which to 'grade oneself:
  • Basic User: Can use the program in its simplest form
  • Average User: Can use the program and can give examples of ways to use the program in the classroom for teaching and learning.
  • Advanced User: Can give an example of using the program in the classroom as part of learning process. Has or is willing to teach others how to use it.
Microsoft Office Suite
I am an advanced user of Word and feel extremely confident about PowerPoint especially since I have been learning about Web 2.0 presentations. Have been passing onto students that presentations are not about the PowerPoint technology as such, but the way it is used to get a message across. I have also started publishing slide casts. I would probably rate myself an average user of Excell because I only use it to record results, and I do not use Publisher at all, although I would still feel fairly confident to use it if I had to.

Am an advanced user of email: Outlook, Groupwise and Gmail for work and pleasure. I have been extremely resistant to using Groupwise to manage my appointments, so maybe should look at that more closely this year.
Verifying information on the Internet
Am very confident about how I judge the quality of information found on the Internet and have taught this for some years to students. I highlight the important of checking who the author is; credentials; site where the information is being hosted; what the 'agenda' of the author is; contact details and references. I am extremely knowledge about the credible sites that are used in midwifery so have no qualms about using them in my teaching. The only thing that Jeff mentions that I have not heard of is 'WHOIS', so will investigate that.

Philosophy regarding the filtering of Internet sites
This isn't something I have thought about in any real depth because I teach adults, not children. However, I think I would take the view that it is better to teach children good practice habits rather than censure what they have access to. Having said that, I have closely 'monitored' my own children's use of the Internet rather than actively filtered it.

Do you read any blogs? If so, which ones?
Yes, I read blogs mostly about e-learning and professional development, but also a few about midwifery. Some of the blogs I read are on the front of my blog but I also read the likes of Stephen Downes, Nancy White and George Siemens. I also have my own blog which is now an essential part of my own personal development.

Do you have an RSS reader? If so, what do you subscribe to?
Yes, I use Google Reader and would not be without it. I track my comments with co.mments. I have attempted to teach students about their use but need to look how I do it in a way that is meaningful for them.

Do you belong to any online communities?
Yes, I belong to three education Google groups including 'Teach and Learn Online'. I also belong to the Midwifery Research List, AOIR and ASCILITE discussion groups. I would like to explore Second Life education communities more this year.

Tell me a story of something you learned from your network?
Don't want to be boring with this answer because it has been a theme throughout this blog, but everything I know about Web 2.0 comes from my networks especially people like Sue Waters, Michelle Martin and Leigh Blackall.

Tell me how you think the future you are preparing [midwives] for will be different?
The main thing I can think of is that as we move into flexible delivery of midwifery education at Otago Polytechnic, especially at undergraduate level, to students that live at a distance from campus, we will need to prepare them to be autonomous learners in a way that maybe they are not now. They will have to look at how to build networks to support their learning in a way that does not happen now. And I believe it will be virtual networks that will support their learning.

What is your favorite gadget and why?
Favorite gadget has to be my laptop and wireless broadband. My favorite online tool....ahhhhh! Can't make up my mind ... probably my blog.

How often do others come to you for guidance in using technology?
Often. I am also purposely trying to lead colleagues in this area in order that we all become Web 2.0 teachers. I do not believe our flexible program will work if we are not all up to speed with e-learning philosophy, pedagogy and tools.

Describe the last new technology that you used and how you used it — and how you learned it?
Slidecast - here's how.

Describe the last thing you learned related to your work, that you didn’t learn in a classroom or from a book, and describe how you learned it.
How to develop a blog and how to learn from it. Learned about this in an online course about developing online communities, reading blogs and having 'conversations' with people via mine or other people's blogs.

Well, I think I haven't come up too bad according to this criteria and I certainly see myself as a Web 2.0 teacher. This year it is my goal to incorporate this learning into my teaching practice, and in an informal way on this blog.

Image: 'Mapa Visual de la Web 2.0' Álvaro Ibáñez


Nancy White said...

I'd say pretty darn great, and even moreso considering you work in a domain that is typically pretty unwired in many respects. So that makes you even more rich in your knowledge, in that you can carry your 2.0 expertise into a community that isn't always ready or interested to hear about technology. I say BRAVO!

Sarah Stewart said...

Thank you very much for that validation, Nancy. I think it will take some time to introduce web 2.0 to midwives but am convinced that it will definitely be worth taking the time and having patience about this.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the nice words Sarah -- I am also the same it is my network (please like yourself) that help me learn about these tools and how I can use them. Also can I say that I have seen several people write a response to Jeff's posts but I really think you have done a fantastic response (if that makes sense).

Sarah Stewart said...

Thanks Sue

Anonymous said...'s all STUFF, is'nt it? It's decadent, it's wealthy and does it FUNDAMENTALLY help women?
I mean.. 1 women a minute dies in childbirth or as a consequence of pregnancy. Does Web 2.0 help them?
Will anything change, or will academics twitter between themselves about something they perceive as new and innovative?
I think it needs to be put in perspective.
The Midwives I love are the ones that keep quiet, read the women and are perceptive. They may not know the lastest Cochrane review on PROM management or whatever .. they use cellphones for texting their clients and their children and respond to the odd email - but they are not lessor Midwives (not that you are I know in any way suggesting that) because they have limited interest in Web stuff.

Being sucked into it is like being sucked into Evidence Based Healthcare - it becomes somehow institutional and authoratative and 'correct' my mind, quite fascist in it's assumption that all have access (or actually want access) to it, in the same way Cochrane dismisses 98% of literature because it's not an RCT.

Now I'm really burbling on. Thanks for the opportunity to try and express myself!

Sarah Stewart said...

Thanks for your comment, anonymous, and actually you have brought up a similar point to one I discussed in a in which I question the relevance to all this Internet stuff when there are thousands of women dying every day. It is good to be challenged and reminded of the importance of questioning why I am doing what I'm doing.

There's a couple of interesting issues you have brought up in your comment and I have written a longer reply. Thank you very much for asking the questions. Please read my reply-I would love to hear your views on it.

Anonymous said...

Ok. Let’s say you’re a Midwifery Tutor, so maybe in your 40-50’s. You’ve ‘discovered’ Web 2.0, and it fascinates you. Although several of your students will be likely your age, many will be between 18-30. You send them off (repeatedly) to watch you tube images of birthing / breast-feeding/ lectures. You paste into their emails hyperlinks to this page or that site..
You know, that’s pretty irritating. Firstly, they, the students, like your daughter, grew up with this evolving technology. Whilst you may have had a ZX81, they had a Mac running OS 9.1. Whilst SMS is still relatively novel, to them it’s a way of life. You may have a stash of 3 ½ inch floppies – they would laugh at the sight of them. You think plug and play is just great – they can never remember a time when you prayed nervously as you pushed a USB device in!

What I mean is – students are way more capable, and far more web and tech savvy, than their tutors. And, don’t forget, they are PAYING for their education.
So – is this value for money? Are they not capable of using a search engine themselves?

And - as a rural student MW – do you always assume that everybody can afford or have access to Broadband? Remember the best lecture you ever attended – I bet you that it was not on Powerpoint, but delivered by someone erudite, passionate and moving, without notes, with hardly a pause – and it left you spellbound and desperate to learn more.

Your daughter is very precious, and yes the care she should receive should be the best. And so should everybody’s else’s daughter. The greatest gains in maternal and neonatal health have come from doing the basics right. So many examples – training and support of TBA’s, training lay-people how to deliver basic obstetric emergency management (ambulance drivers being taught 3rd stage, Sri Lanka and the Malaysian peninsular). Is Midwifery that complex? Was it not Lesley Ann Page herself who proclaimed the basic ‘rule’ – “Be Nice, And Don’t Drop The Baby”?

Professional development is important, but is it the ability to download other people’s work, rearrange it a little, make a few citations then re-submit it… or quietly learning and reflecting?

I appreciate your answers. I suppose I remain suspicious of the elitism of such technology. I wish Foucalt (?sp) were alive to debate it, but I suspect it places yet more power in the hands of the ‘haves’, and empowers women very little.

Best Regards, A Mouse.

Sarah Stewart said...

I'm not advocating that education should be all PowerPoint slides and YouTube videos. I want to be as interesting and innovative a teacher as I can be. I want to be able to deliver a passionate, articulate face-to-face 'lecture', encourage reflection in a one-to-one setting and advise by Skype etc.

I think it is important to be able to engage with students who have grown up with the web 2.0 medias but at the same time, it is my experience (and many other educators) that students are not so savvy with searching and finding quality information on the Internet as you may think. Basic digital literacy is lacking in the young as much as the 'middle aged' like me. But that's another discussion.

I agree with you that in many ways midwifery is simple and I whole heartedly agree that we must not ignore teaching the basics to students. Lesley Page would be the first one to advocate EBP & B. Gail Thomas wrote that safe midwifery practice is a balance between 'art' and 'science'. What I am saying is that web 2.0 is another tool we can use to explore how to get that balance right.


B. Gail Thomas. 2000. Be nice and don't drop the baby. In, The New Midwifery. Science and Sensitivity'. Ed. L. Page. Churchill Livingstone: Edinburgh

Page, L. 2000. Putting science and sensitivity into practice. In, The New Midwifery. Science and Sensitivity'. Ed. L. Page. Churchill Livingstone: Edinburgh

BK said...

Great set of questions, Sarah. Can't wait to take it myself and I loved reading your responses and then the conversation that came from its appearance.
Nice to be visiting you again.

Sarah Stewart said...

Hello Bonnie, drop by again and let me know how you do with the self-assessment. cheers Sarah

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