Thursday, July 3, 2008

Ditching BlackBoard

I have written before about how I am developing a short seven week post-graduate course for midwives. I want to use the course to introduce the participants to social networking as a means of learning but because of the short time frame, I will have to be selective about what tools I use and how I integrate them into the course.

Developing a course in a blog
I will be moving out of BlackBoard and developing this course in a blog. For the time being, the course will be closed which might lead you to ask why bother using a blog - why not just stay in BlackBoard?

The answer is that I want to introduce the concept of a blog even if it is a closed one. If ever it is possible to make the course open access, all I will have to do is lift the restrictions I have placed on it.

Keeping it simple
In view of the course being so short, I have to keep things simple so will use the blog to relay information about the course and an email group to update people and facilitate discussion. I wasn't too sure how I would encourage people to communicate with each other, but I think that I will 'allow' people to use either forum - what ever they are more comfortable with - as long as they do talk to each other.

Using cell phones
The other idea that has been mooted was from Leigh Blackall who suggested that I should make more use of the communication mode that midwives are familiar with ie cell phones. Leigh suggested that I use text to send out reminders about blog posts and meetings, which I agree is an excellent idea.

Online meetings
The other tool I am going to integrate into the course is Elluminate and/or Skype for online meetings and seminars. This course is about reflective practice and the development of a professional midwifery portfolio. It will be important for the learners to communicate with each other in order to share ideas and experiences, as well as ask questions and seek guidance for future professional development. So I think it will be important to have an synchronous element to this course. And if learners cannot attend, they will have access to the meeting recordings.

There is no doubt that there is a movement toward synchronous online communication in midwifery in New Zealand, so the sooner midwives become familiar with the technology, the better. I am hoping that I will be able to provide open access to the seminars, which will hopefully encourage midwives in the use of the technology as well as increase interest in post-graduate study.

Looking for feedback
Here is the basic shell for the course. Obviously, I have the course material to add. But before I do that, I'd be interested in any feedback about the layout and tools I have incorporated.

Possibly, the other thing I need to get my head around is Google Calenders, how to set up a course calender and integrate it into the blog. So any advice about how to do that will be gratefully received.

Image: 'First Light on the Bend' Fort Photo


Leigh Blackall said...

Hi Sarah, my only comment on the set up would be the use of M503.7.. sounds like either a very heavy callibre gun, a bullet proof vest, or a radio station..

I realise it has something to do with a course that means something to Otago Polytechnic and possibly NZ midwifery education, but I'd be surprised if you said it was commonly known to midwives generally.

I reckon you should call it plain and simple: Reflection on Midwifery Practice. Hard to change I know :(

Sarah Stewart said...

I know what you are saying and if the course was open, I might be inclined to change it in order to make it sound a little more inviting - I don't have to have the 'M503.7' bit in the blog title. Having said that, the course will be in a closed environment with a captured audience. It also makes a little easier for students to differentiate between all the different courses they are doing. Thansk for the suggestion.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sarah, I'll be interested in how you make out using a blog for your LMS. I've thought about doing this too as I'm much more familiar with how to operate a blog and it seems so much easier to incorporate the web 2.0 tools in which I'm interested.

Regarding using Google calendar, I have used it for my high school students with great success. I have embedded it into a 'traditional' website (see here). As school is not in session right now, the calendar is blank, but if you go back a few months you can see how my colleague and I have used it. I like the option of viewing the calendar in agenda mode. Once I set up the calendar (a different calendar for each grade/year of students) it was easy to embed it into my site. I imagine that it would be equally easy to embed in a blog (especially since your's is a Google blog). Please let me know if I can be of any help getting the calendar set up.
All the best!

Anonymous said...

Sarah, I meant to mention above that I like how you've used tags (or is it categories?) to organize the course--under 'Course Information' in the right side-bar. I'm sure this will be very handy for you students to find exactly what they need.

Sarah Stewart said...

Thanks for that,Claire. I have a few more categories to add such as how to use the library and reference styles. I will have a look at calenders - I think it would be useful to have one embedded into the blog so students can see where assignments are due and when we are having events.