Sunday, August 31, 2008

Geriatric1927 and YouTube

Geriatric1927 shows how social networking and YouTube isn't just for the young.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Happy birthday to me: my first year of blogging

Image: 'Nibbler Says Happy Birthday, Too!' cdw9

This week I am celebrating my first year of having a blog, and what a ride it has been. I know that blogging isn't everyone's cup of tea, but it has been a revelation for me.

Making friends
Through this blog I have met and become friends with people who I would never normally meet because of geographical and professional differences. I have developed the ability to use multi-media tools such as video, and I think I have improved my writing skills.

From an academic point of view, my experience with this blog has led to papers being accepted for publication, a book chapter and a number of conference presentations, which I don't think is too bad for only a year's work. I have progressed my thinking about e-mentoring and led a series of blogging workshops. And to cap it all, I have managed to get my CEO to start up a blog, as well as my husband and daughter.

Image: 'Me & Somayeh - Inside the Road' Fort Photo

Reflective practice

This blog has become an invaluable tool for reflection. I have tried to journal in the past but it has never lasted. I feel differently about the blog because my reflections are open for peer review. I often get taken in directions I would never get to by the comments left by readers. That further enhances my own learning. The support and critique from readers has encouraged me to be open and honest which in turn has built my own confidence, particularly in relation to my role as a teacher.

Sharing knowledge and collaboration
I have been able to pass on my personal learning that has been meaningful and helpful to others, which in turn has led to a number of collaborative projects in the pipeline.

Yet at the same time, I have also been challenged about the way I use this blog for feedback and reflection. It has been suggested that I neglect 'real' life sources of help and support. This leaves me with an important issue to ponder in the next stage of my blogging life - am I too quick to go to my online network for support and information? Am I neglecting the 'real' world, to my detriment? What do you think about this?

Where to from here

Probably one of the most important things this blog has helped me do is reflect on my place in midwifery. After nearly 25 years as a midwife and 10 years as an educator, I have reached the stage of life where I am wondering what to do next. I am highly unlikely to go back to full time clinical practice mostly because I don't think my back will hold up to it. Yet at the same time, I am ready for a new challenge in my career.

I think my new challenge is looking at how networked learning through processes such as blogging can be incorporated into formal and informal midwifery education. The beauty of networked learning is that its ubiquitous nature allows me to keep one foot in midwifery, and at the same time connect with other professionals even outside of health - in other words, it offers me opportunities to develop my skills in areas that would otherwise be closed to me. And that has come about mostly by my work and reflections in this blog.

Image: 'Colorful_ness' ishrona

A big 'thank you' to all the readers of this blog

I cannot thank you all enough for reading this blog, for leaving comments, entering discussions and giving me your support. It's your encouragement that has got me to where I am in this blog. I know my blog is a real mish mash of topics, so I thank you for sticking with me, even if some of the posts are not that interesting or relevant to you.

I'd also like to thank Leigh Blackall, Sue Waters and Michele Martin who have been my blogging mentors.

Secret to successful blogging
To those of you who would like to know what makes a successful blog, I would echo the words of Sue Waters, who had her first blogging birthday a couple of months ago:

persistence, patience and commitment

I would also echo Sue's advice to newbie bloggers, to work through the 31 Day Blog Challenge and 31 day Comment Challenge - the activities in these challenges will really hone your blogging skills. My progress through the two challenges can be found in my ePortfolio.

Once again, thank you all for taking the time to drop by. Don't ever be afraid to leave a comment, even if it's to tell me that I write a load of old rubbish. I really value the comments and discussions that all contribute to my learning, and hopefully yours.

Rules of the office

I work in an open office with eight other women, so as you can imagine, we are rather rambunctious at times....OK....I admit it....most of the time.

But life can be difficult when we're trying to do serious work like marking assignments because of all the noise and interruptions.

So a new office rule has just been brought in: library conditions at all times!

What are the rules of your office?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Working with an open access intellectual policy

A couple of things have made me reflect on how it is for me to be working under an institutional intellectual policy that recognizes the individual's ownership of intellectual property, and encourages open sharing of knowledge and resources.

Otago Polytechnic IP policy
Otago Polytechnic has a default creative commons attribution license to all its material and resources, and recognizes personal ownership of the intellectual property of staff and students in its IP policy.

I have been very aware of the IP policy and I guess I have got to the stage that I take it for granted. But it wasn't until I attended the Heywire8 Think Tank on Friday that I truly realized the significance of this amazingly stance taken by the Otago Polytechnic leadership, Phil Ker and Robin Day. For example, I did not realize that Otago Polytechnic was the first educational institution in the world to take this stance with regard to IP. And it was inspiring to see how excited the Think Tank participants - e-learning leaders of New Zealand - were about working to make this a national approach to educational resources.

The other thing that has made me reflect on the IP policy is a comment Lorna Davies made when she heard the details from Leigh Blackall at the DEANZ conference last week. Lorna says

What this session did for me was to bring home the huge responsibility that this inverted policy places on staff. I appreciate that they retain rights over their own material
but they also incur a considerable amount of responsibility.

What I feel is a great sense of liberation knowing that my material is my own. I am free to share my teaching materials in forums such as Slideshare and YouTube. I can take my material with me when I leave my employment. I do not have to worry that my employer will rebuke me if I use my materials outside the institution. Yes, I have a responsibility to be professional about my behavior, but the fact that I am being treated like a grown up encourages my loyalty to my employer.

At the moment the courses I teach are closed, which causes a dissonance between the policy and the realities of what I do. But the foundation for open sharing of midwifery education has been laid, and that is a very exciting prospect.

Image: HeyWire Think Tank Leigh Blackall

Sunday, August 24, 2008

CCK08: Getting in a tizz about the connectivism course

I am planning to be an informal student in a course that explores the learning theory: Connectivism. The course is being run by George Siemens and Stephen Downes. This course is being offered as an online open access course that anyone can join either as an informal student (free) for the fun of it, or formally enroll (and pay fees) with the aim of taking assessments and gaining the qualification.

Learning needs
I do not expect that I'll have time to be the star 'pupil' or formally enroll so my plans are to dip in and out of the course, picking up information to suit my particular needs.
  • My interest in the theory of connectivism as a learning and 'teaching' theory has grown as a result of my increasing interest in the notion of community mentoring.
  • I have been subpoenaed into a course at work which deals with constructing online courses. One of the assignments is to look at learning theory in relation to course design, so joining the connectivisim course should inform my studies for the construction course I am doing - gosh, that's confusing!
  • My learning will underpin a postgraduate midwifery online course about reflective practice that I am designing, in which I am hoping to introduce midwives to learning by networking at a very basic level.
  • Being a student will hopefully afford me further insights into the practicalities and experiences of developing, implementing and facilitating an open access course.
Panic attack
I have had a look at the course wiki and blog, and joined the course email group. But I am already getting into a bit of a panic about how I am going to follow what everyone is up to. The course has about attracted 1400 participants so the amount of activity in terms of emails, blog posts, synchronous meetings in forums like Second Life will be huge. And I feel dizzy with the thought that I might miss some thing important.

The truth of the matter is that it will be totally impossible to follow everything. So I am going to follow Derek Chirnside's advice and set up this Netvibes page that monitors key resources and blogs - this idea came from Joao Alves who is a student in a similar course: Facilitating Online Communities.

I am also going to join groups of people doing the course with the same fundamental educational interests as myself, such as health. So if you are planning to do the course and you have a health background, please let me know if you'd like to form a 'health group'. I think it will be useful to break into small groups so that we can apply the connectivism theory to a specific context. I am thinking that spontaneous meetings using tools such as Skype will be really useful.

It has also been really useful to listen to Siemens and Downes talk about their aims for the course, how they have organised it and what their expectations (if any) of the students are. This background information has given a context to the course that I was missing before.

I am really looking forward to learning more about connectivism and open access education. Please drop me a line if you are joining the course and want someone's hand to hold in the online playground.

Image: 'Recess 1' visual.dichotomy

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Final blogging workshop

On Thursday Lyn and I ran our final blogging workshop - here is information about the first workshop and the second workshop. I have really enjoyed the workshops and am thrilled that people came to all three nights, and now have their blogs up and running. I am grateful to all the participants for showing such enthusiasm, as well as friendliness and support to each other, which I believe made the sessions so successful.

  • Be able to embed multi media into blog posts
  • Be able to add widgets to blog
What we achieved
  • Revisited how to make links to other web sites and posts within own blog
  • Thought about the principles of blog design and learned how to use the blog dashboard - have an 'about page', keep the blog simple and uncluttered, give instructions on how people can find their way around your blog, make comments and use tools such as RSS
  • Learned how to embed video into blog posts.
Lyn and I had planned on revisiting the participants' personal aims for the workshops with them, but we ran out of time. However, since then I have looked at the aims which generally were to learn about blogging, so I know we achieved that aim. The only aim of one participant we did not address was how to link a blog to Delicious, and that was a time issue.

The written feedback for the workshops was very positive and can be found here.

Possibly changes for the future
I felt the final evening went very well and I really enjoyed myself. I think that was partly because everyone was starting to get a feel for how things work and we were concentrating on the technical 'how to' tasks. The week before, we talked a lot more about concepts and I don't know if that was quite as interesting for participants - they were still focusing on the blog technology. I am wondering now if we would have been better off concentrating on setting up the blogs in the first two weeks, and then in the third week looking at commenting and following blogs in a reader.

Here are another few thoughts about potential changes for future workshops:
  • Have structured online resources as well as paper workbook. This will support the presentations, as well as participants who prefer working with digital resources as opposed to paper ones. Work has already been started in Wikieducator, and there is a similar resource available via the Online Information Literacy Project.
  • I think the time (2 hours x 3) is about right for an introductory course. I do see a need for an advanced session or two to look at how you can collect blog statistics and what you do with them, set up Feedburner and play with more advanced video and audio blogging tools such as Seesmic and VoiceThread. However, people can always work their way through the 31 Day Blog and Comment Challenges to learn about developing their blog further.
  • Mustn't forget there are other blogging platforms available such as Typepad and Edublogs.
  • Ask participants to set up a blog account before they start the workshops. But at the same time, be mindful that some people may not have the skills to do this, so may need to be supported to do it at the workshop
  • Set up a buddy system? - partner a computer newbie with a person who has more advanced computer skills. Whilst I acknowledge the value of doing, I am not 100% sold on the idea especially if it means that the more experienced person does not get time to do her/his own thing. Having said that, I must acknowledge that we had one facilitator to about five people. In a bigger class with a higher student/facilitator ratio, a buddy system would probably be essential.
Ongoing support
The challenge now for the participants will be to keep going, and I am looking forward to seeing how their bogs develop and if they build themselves into a blogging community. I think it will be important to provide ongoing support and resources for a little while longer by the group email and via participants' blogs. When I was a newbie blogger, it meant a lot to me to have people like Sue Waters, Michele Martin and Leigh Blackall mentor me, so this is an opportunity for me to 'pay it forward'.

If you have run similar face-to-face workshops, what would you say are the key issues to consider?

Hitting a snag with SurveyMonkey

I have just used SurveyMonkey for the first time to gather feedback on the blogging workshops I was running with Lyn Blair. The survey was very easy to develop and from what I could see, it was easy to fill out.

What to do with the results
It is also very easy to see the results, but I have hit a snag now that I have come to download the results and share them with Lyn. It is possible to download and share results, but to do so you have to upgrade your account and start paying a fee. The only other way I can share the results is by letting Lyn have access to my account, or print off pages of questions and replies. I have to say that I am really disappointed about this because SurveyMonkey is a lovely program to use.

So if you have an answer to this problem or suggestions for other free online survey tools I could try, please let me know.

Image: 'Vervet monkey' Arno & Louise

Friday, August 22, 2008

How to deliver a baby

I was very sorry to hear that a woman went into premature labour on an Air New Zealand flight, and sadly,the baby died. I am sure that the two nurses who looked after the woman did all they could to help her and the baby. And I am sure that they are really gutted at the moment. But the thing that struck me about the news report was that the nurses tied the cord with shoe laces.

What to do with the umbilical cord
What happens to the umbilical cord is a huge issue of concern when you talk to people about what they would do if they are in the situation where they have to deliver a baby. But the truth of the matter is: you are much better leaving the cord well alone, even if the placenta is born still attached to the baby. By leaving the cord alone, the baby continues continues receiving valuable oxygen from his mother. And you could do more harm than good fiddling around with the cord.

'Emergency' birth
The most important things you can do if you are supporting a woman giving birth unexpectedly is reassure mum, dry the baby and put the baby straight to mum's naked chest and keep both mum and baby warm, and out of harm's way.

Have you ever had to be a 'midwife' when you were not expecting it? If you are a midwife, have you had a time when you were 'caught out'?

Image: 'Evan cuts the umbilical cord' Natashalatrasha

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Another new blog: Ellen the Prophet

It's been a good day for new blogs.

My daughter, Ellen was in too minds about having a blog; she felt she wouldn't have time to maintain it. But she does have a Facebook account which she uses a lot.

Ellen is doing media studies at university. So when I was talking about her to Erika Pearson, who is a lecturer in the media studies program, Erika felt it would be essential for Ellen to have a blog.

So here is my daughter's new blog: Ellen the Prophet.

Meet Mystic Mazz

My poor husband has been dragged along to the blogging workshops that I have been facilitating with Lyn Blair.

So I am very proud to announce the birth of a new blog belonging to my husband: Mystic Mazz

Do pop along and say 'hello' to him. However, at this point I would like to publically make a disclaimer that although I have been married to him for nearly 25 years, he and his blog is nothing to do with me!!!!!

Throw away your PowerPoint slides, go on, I dare you!

I went to hear Richard Stallman talk a couple of days ago about copyright. Whilst I did not necessarily agree with everything he said, I was totally engaged with him and his speech for over two hours.

Presentation skills

The thing was struck me about this speech was that Richard used absolutely no visual aids and definitely no PowerPoint slides - he just stood and talked. The presentation aids and skills Richard used which so thoroughly captured my attention were humor, enthusiasm, expert knowledge of his subject and the occasional radical, 'shocking' pronouncement. The other thing he did was use unpretentious, lay language that I could understand - he didn't try to blind with science.

Using PowerPoint to give presentations
Leigh Blackall, who also went to hear Richard, commented on this very same thing, remarking to me that 'we' should be ashamed at the way we rely on PowerPoint slides when we give presentations. I immediately countered that it's alright for someone like Stallman - he is a very experienced speaker and probably gives the same talk time and time again. Leigh left me with this thought: "But aren't all teachers?"

Picking up the gauntlet?
There's no doubt about it, PowerPoint can be a crutch for presenters and can make the most boring speech even more boring. And I shall never forget the feedback students gave me after a session I ran where the computer didn't work and I had to abandon my PowerPoint slides and use a whiteboard - they thought it was one of the best session I had ever presented.

I have tried to change the way I use PowerPoint from slide after slide of bullet points to using images only. And I think that is working quite well. So I am reluctant to give up my PowerPoint slides altogether. But at the same time, it has been really useful for me to reflect on my presentation style and remind myself of the importance of keeping things simple and entertaining.

Do you use PowerPoint when giving presentations - how do you get on? What do you think are key presentation skills?

Image: 'The Evilution of Communication' Torley

New CEO blog: Thoughts from Phil

A couple of weeks ago I posted some ideas about the pros and cons of CEOs and bosses having a personal blog. And I have had a discussion with Phil Ker, the CEO of Otago Polytechnic about how he could use blogging as a means of communicating with his staff.

To cut a long story short, I am really excited to say that Phil has set up his own personal blog: phil ker's blog.

Please drop by and leave him a comment - I am sure he'd love to hear feedback either about the blog itself, or about the value of a CEO blogging.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Things you don't say to your wife

Had to laugh at this video of comedian Tim Hawkins

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (cot death) and bed sharing with babies

Here is the link to the recording of the seminar about babies and bed-sharing in relation to SIDS (cot death) given by Dr Sally Baddock.

Again, we had a small number of people but I was thrilled to have participants from Christchurch and the North Island, Australia and Canada.

I am looking for volunteers to present online seminars in September, October and November. Would love to hear from you if you went to the ICM and have a presentation lying around that you can repeat.

Would also welcome offers from non-midwives who would like to present a topic that would be of interest to midwives.

Please check here for more information.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Lock down of Dunedin Hospital

Dunedin Hospital has been locked down due to a very serious outbreak of Norovirus. This virus presents with severe stomach pain, diarrhea and vomiting. It can be deadly to babies and young children.

I know what I'd be doing if I was expecting to have a baby now - I'd be organizing my homebirth, quick smart.

Image: Dunedin Railway Station

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Am I being dim about DimDim?

The other day I had a play with Merrolee Penman on DimDim. DimDim is a free software that allows you to have an online meeting of up to 20 people.

Compared to Elluminate
DimDim allows audio and visual communication, white board and desktop share. The main annoyance was that there was a reasonable lag which made communication less fluid, but that might have been the way I set up the meeting.
Compared to Elluminate, DimDim did not appear to have any more to offer.

the advantage DimDim has is that it is free, whereas Elluminate can only be accessed free for meetings of up to three people. For those who do not have access to Elluminate, I would suggest that DimDim is worth investigating.

My only doubt would be how it performs for people who do not have access to broadband Internet connection.

Why do software companies give their products such funny names? When I heard of DimDim, I immediately thought of TimTam, which is a lovely chocolate biscuit you can buy in New Zealand. What is the meaning of DimDim?

Image: 'The inside of a Tim Tam' joyosity

Friday, August 15, 2008

Second blogging workshop

Thursday night was the second of the three blogging workshops I am running with Lyn Blair.


What we achieved

My personal reflections
I was really pleased that people had their blogs up and running with at least one post by the end of the evening. It is a delight to work with people who are so enthusiastic about setting up a blog. But I am left with the question: how do I support people to keep going with their blogs once the workshops have ended? Is it my job to do that? What if they think blogging is a waste of time - does that mean I am a terrible teacher? Do I take all this far too seriously!!!??? :)

How do you teach a class of people at different levels of technical ability?
This evening felt really chaotic and I feel a lot less satisfied with how thing went than I did the previous week. People were at different stages of development, and I tried to keep the evening 'loose' so that Lyn and I could support everyone with their own different needs. I especially didn't want to bore people who were more 'advanced' than the others.

But the problem with this approach was that I felt I had lost 'control' of what was going on, which in turn meant I felt as if I lost the flow of how the evening was supposed to run. The upshot of this for me, the 'teacher', was that I missed information or felt I gave it out in an unstructured manner.

Difference between teaching midwifery and computer skills
I do teach technical skills to student midwives and wonder why that does not feel so difficult as teaching computer skills. But I think it is easier because the student midwives are all at one level ie they come to my class with no knowledge of the skill, and I focus on only one skill at a time. Whereas this blogging class has students with a number of different skill levels, needs and aims which is more difficult to juggle.

Taking a structured approach
Leigh Blackall has advised me to:
  • break the evening into small bursts of activities
  • walk everyone through a particular activity such as how to upload an image for 5-10 minutes even if they know how to do it already
  • then let them go off and 'play' for another short while
  • repeat with the next activity.
If you teach computer subjects to classes, is there any other advice you would give me? If you are a student, how do you like a class like this to be facilitated?

Length of course

The other thing I have been thinking about is the length of the course. I originally thought that I would run 5 classes of 2 hours, but I think that 3 classes is probably as much as I would get people to attend. So I have to come to terms that there is no way I can tell people all there is to know about blogging in that short time.

So may be we should offer a basic class which covers how to set up a blog, and then a more advanced class when we look at adding widgets and so on. Having said that, people can continue their learning by working their way through activities such as the 31 Day Blog Challenge and 31 Day Comment Challenge, as well as access resources provided by people such as Sue Waters.

I would love to hear what people think about this, especially as I have been asked for feedback by several people in other areas/countries who are going to be running the same sort of workshops.

Highlight of the evening
On a lighter note, the highlight of the evening came when I was talking to a participant about linking her blog to other websites.

When I asked her what she was linking to her blog, she replied "My book." She had a web site URL in her notebook which she was using in her blog. That really tickled my funny bone.

Boycotting Private Practice

I can"t believe it. I am shocked and horrified!

I just saw the advert for the new medical drama 'Private Practice' which is a spin off of 'Grey's Anatomy'. In it, Addison, the sexy neonatal doctor says " Midwifery? Is there such a word?"

If that is an example of what is to come, then I will be boycotting the program.

A pox on the script writers.

Image: '222/365 tv toes' obo-bobolina's

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Living a sustainable life

Sustainability is a theme that has been gaining momentum in my life. Midwives talk about sustaining their practice so that they do not burnout, and they maintain their joy for the job. Educators are investigating how they can integrate sustainability into course curriculum. And, as the cost of petrol goes up, the idea of doing collaborative work online instead of taking numerous plane flights is increasingly attractive.

My bit for sustainability
I have been thinking that I'll grow my own vegetables. I only have a small urban garden, but I have a few ideas about how I could manage that. It feels like the right thing to do, both philosophically and financially.
Being a responsible gardener
But my husband says I have to prove that I can be a responsible gardener. At the moment he says I am not - I don't look after the garden I have so, how will I maintain a vegetable garden?

What do you think? Does it look like I would make a good gardener or do you think I'm living some sort of weird fantasy life? The last thing I want to do is admit my husband is right!

How to say goodbye

I have a very dear family friend who is very sick and we have to say goodbye to her in the next few weeks.

All our extended family is in England, so my friend is like a surrogate sister to me. I want to be strong for her and give her as much physical, emotional and spiritual support as I can. I also need to be able to support my own family, especially my two teenagers who have never faced a situation like this before.

How to say goodbye
So, how do you do it?

I don't want to make a sad situation worse by weeping and wailing all over the place. I see the next few weeks as a time when we can celebrate all the wonderful times we have had together. I would like to do or say something special but just don't know where to start. I don't know how to 'be' with her.

I know this is a sad thing to discuss but if you have any advice, or if you'd like to share your own experiences I would love to hear from you.

Image: 'The sunsets are free' kevindooley

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Living in a bubble

I am the first to admit that I live my life pretty much oblivious to anything except my immediate family, friends and work context. I am reasonably attune to what's going on in the midwifery world in New Zealand and countries such as the UK and Australia. On the whole I have been oblivious to what is going on in developing countries with regards to childbirth.

Social networking raising my awareness
But my awareness of the problems faced by my midwifery colleagues and birthing women has increased over the last few months. This has come about as I have used social networking tools to connect with individuals and midwifery networks in developing countries.

The torture of birthing women in the Dominican Republic
It is through one of my midwifery networks that I came across Stacey Sheer, who is a midwife trying to raise awareness about what is happening to birthing women in the Dominican Republic. Stacey has written to the World Health Organization pleading for conditions for women to be improved, especially by improving obstetric and midwifery education. Stacey says:

I am still in shock from the horror of the behaviors I witnessed in this countries public hospital. The standard of care for a laboring woman is this:
Laboring women, labor in one room with sixteen beds and sometimes three women to a bed at a time. There are no clean sheets or chux on these beds, they are in their street clothes, body fluids are expelled on the floor or on the bed, all waste products are released in the bed or on the floor by the side while they labor. The women are not given food or water to drink.

She goes onto say:

One day I witnessed an intern cut a woman on both sides and a third time into the rectum; the head was not even visible and no one took a heart tone. This woman was left with a gaping hole in her pelvic floor which words cannot describe.

Another horror
I witnessed the doctor opening the scissors to find they had blood on them from another woman. She called for a nurse and none came; she used them anyway to cut this woman.

And on:
After the baby is forced out of the woman's severely compromised vagina, the doctors immediately clamp and cut the umbilical cord depriving the baby of its blood. The baby is whisked away to another room and the doctor immediately pulls on the cord of the still attached placenta until the woman hemorrhages and the placenta is expelled. Three times in one hour I witnessed projectile expression of copious amounts of blood at this pulling.

What can I do?

I do not normally sign petitions or pass on stories like this. And to be honest, I don't have any real idea about what I can do. So I am re-telling this story to make you mindful of what goes on in some areas of the world, and express my support for Stacey's campaign.

If you wish to hear more about Stacey's experiences and show her your support, please contact her at stacy.sheer(at)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Infant bedsharing - what happens during the night

I am extremely pleased to be able to announce the next online Elluminate meeting. This meeting will not only be of interest to midwives, but also anyone working with pregnant women and new parents. Pregnant mums and parents are also very welcome to come along.

Topic: Bedsharing - what happens during the night
The results of a study will be presented in which Sally and her colleagues videoed infants and their parents while they bedshared, or slept in a cot overnight in their own homes. They also monitored infant physiology and matched this with the video data to gain a picture of the potential risks and benefits encountered during bedsharing compared to cot sleeping.


Dr Sally Baddock has carried significant research looking at bed sharing and sudden infant death (cot death), as well as use of dummies and breastfeeding. Sally is the Associate Head of the School of Midwifery at Otago Polytechnic and is also a researcher at the University of Otago.

Date: 19th August 2008 New Zealand

14.00-15.00 NZ Time. See here for International Times.

Meeting link:

Just enter your name where it says 'user name'. You do not need a password

The meeting room is available from now so you can have a play with the technology before the meeting.

Using Elluminate
Please check here for more information about how to use Elluminate.

Need extra help?
Please contact me if you need help with setting up Elluminate. I strongly advise that you try out the technology before the meeting so that any problems can be ironed out and you don't miss the meeting.

Image: 'Hands Up, Baby, Hands Up' Qole Pejorian

Monday, August 11, 2008

I don't want to be a nice person & do things for the greater common good

I am a bit of a sucker when it comes to being asked to participate in other people's research. Having had a bad experience myself as a researcher, I am always keen to support other researchers.

Fat enough
I have signed up to participate in a study being carried out at Otago University - soemthing to do with diabetes and obesity. So that was the first piece of good news I had today - its official - I'm fat enough to be included in the study!

Pain and tribulation
Today I had to starve for 12 hours, have three blood tests, hang around for nearly five hours waiting for the blood tests, and drink the most disgusting protein drink on my very empty stomach which made me feel sick for the rest of the morning.

Next week I have to go through the same process but get to eat.....wait for it......mashed potato. And then, the week after, I get mashed potato and the disgusting protein drink....together.

Just shoot me if I ever talk about volunteering to be a participant in a research study again!

Image: 'untitled' MR+G

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Resources for women in science, engineering and technology

The UK Resource Centre (UKRC) is a UK government-funded agency which has been set up to support women in science, engineering and technology. UKRC has been exploring ePortfolios and has featured the work I have done. I am very pleased to know that other people have found my work on ePortoflios to be useful.

UKRC asked me to explain why I have an ePortfolio, and what I think the advantages and disadvantages of ePortfolios are. I was also very happy to share a couple of resources that I find useful.

Resources for employment
Apart from the pages on ePortfolios, there is also a very useful section on mentoring in the work place. And also excellent information with practical tips on dealing with CVs, interviews, returning to work and finding a job.

Image: 'Released to Public: "First Lady Astronaut Trainee"+Jerrie+Cobb+(NASA)'

Creative Commons New Zealand

The Creative Commons New Zealand website went live a couple of weeks ago. I am very honored to be one of the first people featured on the website.

On the website I talk about my use of creative commons in my work and why I am so keen to use a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 New Zealand license. This license allows people to use my work as long as they attribute it to me, or the source that I myself have used.

What do you know about Creative Commons? What sort of license do you attach to your work?

Image: 'my CC stickers have arrived!!!' laihiu

A terrible start to the virtual rugby

The new national rugby season has started so I've got my Otago rugby supporters gear out, ready to brave the snow at Carisbrook this afternoon. Otago is playing it's arch rivals, Canterbury. So what ever happens, there will be some wailing and knashing of teeth this evening.

Virtual rugby
The virtual rugby started last week, and I have already stuffed up really badly. I only got 5 points last week, and this week I forgot to make my picks. Hopefully, I won't get too left behind.

If you want to see how I am doing, my user name is hototagogirl.

Learning by virtual role play in a blog

One of my colleagues, Megan Gibbons, is teaching registered midwives about nutrition in childbirth. One of the teaching strategies she uses is role play.

Role play in a blog
This year, Megan has asked the students to develop a blog and use it to develop the scenario that she has given them.

Shannon's story
If you are interested in this, pop along to the blog to see how the scenario is developing and leave a comment. Just remember that the students are 'in role'.

The only thing that isn't clear on the blog is what the scenario is. But if you need that information to work out what's going on, just leave a comment and I am sure someone will fill in the gaps for you.

Image: 'Richard (12m) eating an apple' Reini68

Friday, August 8, 2008

How well do you know your family?

I have been married for 23 years to Mark, and my daughter, Ellen, is 20 years old, so I am fairly confident that I know them both extremely well. But on Thursday I was proved wrong.

Making assumptions
Mark and Ellen came to my blogging workshop. When I asked them if they'd like to come with me a week ago, they both instantly said 'yes'...without any argument or discussion. I thought that was very sweet of them...wanting to come and support me. But I thought they'd moan like mad and complain about it, and make me suffer and say that I 'owed' them. I believed they thought my blogging was a waste of time and viewed it as one of my rather silly obsessions.

Blown away
But I was gobsmacked to find out that they both have a genuine interest in blogging. Not only that, but they have put some thought to it and know exactly what they want their blogs to achieve.

Mark is going to record all the amazing, interesting facts and resources he finds on the Internet. And Ellen is going to use her blog to record her progress through university and develop her writing skills, which hopefully will eventuate in articles being published in university magazines.

A secret nickname
I also found out that Mark had a nickname as a teenager- mystic mazz - I never knew that! He is going to adopt it for his blog.

Having to eat my hat
So I have to eat my very uncharitable words about them. At the same time, I am very excited that they have picked this up. I hope they find blogging to be as much fun as I have. The only snag to all this is there are going to be even more fights to get on the home computer.

Image: 'We've got Sole' John Carleton

First blogging workshop

Last night was the first night of a series of three workshops on how to blog that I am presenting with a colleague, Lyn Blair. The workshops are two hours each and are being offered in a face-to-face context in a computer laboratory.

Last night's program - objective
  • Be able to describe what a blog is.
  • Be able to find blogs that interest you.
  • Be able to use a RSS feed to monitor blogs that interest you.
  • Be able to describe the aim and purpose of your blog.
  • Have your blog set up with appropriate settings.

Make-up of the group
We had about 13 people at the workshop - most were educators from Otago Polytechnic. I don't think we would have been able to manage many more people than that. There was a mixed ability of people in the class but at the very least, everyone knew how email worked. A few of the group members were already well down the 'technological' road, but the majority needed one-on-one education about RSS, readers and so on.

What we achieved
My personal reflections
  1. The first challenge we faced was that we couldn't get the big slide projector working properly for various reasons so we were not able to demonstrate things on a big screen. We managed without, but it wasn't ideal. Whilst I found that frustrating, I was pleased how well Lyn and I were able to cope with that obstacle. But the moral of the story is, as always: check your equipment works well in advance of your teaching session.
  2. The two hour time frame was enough - I was getting tired by the end of the session.
  3. I wasn't sure how much material we would get through so was prepared to be flexible. But I did hope everyone would have set up their blogs, even if it was only at a basic stage, by the end of the evening. I didn't get to walk people through the settings, so will do that in greater detail next week.
  4. It was important to have a discussion about what blogs were and what people wanted to achieve in their blogs - that set the scene and gave Lyn and I an idea of what people wanted to achieve. It also gave us an idea of people's pre-existing knowledge and experience.
  5. I had a little trouble articulating exactly what blogs and RSS were but found the Common Craft 'plain English' videos to be a wonderful resource for clarifying my explanations.
  6. I hadn't factored into my planning how much time it is going to take between workshops to support people both by commenting on their blogs and answering emails. So if you are planning to run similar workshops, have a think about how you will mentor people with their new blogs.
Passing on the benefit of my experience
I have written out this rather lengthy reflection because I have been asked to share my experiences with several other people who are planning similar workshops in Australia and the USA. When I get around to it, I will also put all my resources into Wikieducator.

Image: '3 Generations, 1 MacBook' lyzadanger

Thursday, August 7, 2008

A blogging CEO

Yesterday, I had a great chat with my CEO, Phil Kerr about blogging. Phil is very interested in having a blog and has already set one up, but it hasn't engaged staff in the way he had hoped.

What do I want to know about my CEO?

I have been thinking about why I would read Phil's blog. In a lot of ways, he is very removed from me. I beaver away every day and am directly managed by a number of people who have the power to say whether I have a job or not, and define what that job is. I only go to see Phil at staff forums when there's discussions about funding and job losses, which I should point out is my choice.

Phil has worked very hard to make himself as available as he can in various forums but I generally choose not to engage in those forums because I lazily wait for news to filter its way down the various levels to me. So, to me, 'Phil' is a nebulous concept as opposed to a real person.

Why should a CEO blog?
I had a check around to see what people thought of Phil's blog and to get some advice for him. The unanimous feeling was that people, staff in particular, were really interested in hearing more about Phil's personal thoughts, plans and experiences as opposed to official business. And that is how I feel. I want to know more about the man who 'leads' me and indirectly has such a huge impact on my working life, my career, my professional hopes and dreams. And in turn, I want him to get to know more about me.

Tips for a newbie blogging CEO
We talked about what Phil would like to achieve in his blog and both acknowledged that it is probably better for him to start afresh with a blog that takes a much more personal approach. There will be a number of issues he will need to address such as privacy, disclosure and time, but they are no different for a CEO as a stay-at-home mum. There are a number of examples of CEOs who blog that may be helpful, and my advice would be to keep things simple.

I suggested that initially Phil's new blog should have the following features:
  • Short, pithy title and sentence explaining what the blog is about.
  • Profile explaining who Phil is, with a casual photo.
  • RSS feed so that people can subscribe to the blog, either through a reader or email.
Blogging is more than writing
I also think that media other than text, such as audio and video would suit Phil's communication and life style. He thinks on the move and is a two finger typist. So I think that recording his thoughts as he goes and then publishing them in an audio file will work well for Phil.

Finally, and probably the most important thing I would say is that blogging isn't just a one way process. Blogging is about connecting with other people in their blogs and taking part in conversations. So if Phil wants to make a success of his blog, he's going to have to take some time to connect with people in their blogs. And the blogs of the staff of Otago Polytechnic will be a great place to start.

Supporting each other in our blogs
Phil has promised me that he will look at starting his new blog in the next week, so I hope we will all support him and give him lots of encouragement. I for one am really looking forward to seeing how he goes.

Some resources for a newbie blogger
PS: To staff of Otago Polytechnic
If you have a blog, please add it to this page on Wikieducator so we have an up to date list to refer to.

Image: 'Happy Beaver' sherseydc

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Giving my boss a make over

I have mentioned before that my boss, Phil Kerr, has a blog.

A CEO's blog
Phil started his blog a few months ago as another way to communicate with staff of Otago Polytechnic. But he has been a little disappointed to find that staff have not engaged with it in the way he anticipated.

Essentially, what Phil does in his blog is re-produce an email newsletter that he sends out on the institutional email system. But I have maintained that there is more to blogging than this and have urged Phil to use it to communicate in a more personal way with staff.

How to blog in an hour
I am very excited to have a boss who blogs. I don't have anything to do with Phil on an every day basis, so this is one way that he can become more accessible to me. So I have volunteered to spend some time with Phil, looking at how we can improve his blog to encourage more two-way interaction.

I have got one hour tomorrow to work with Phil and give his blog a makeover.

What do you think?
Have a look at Phil's blog. What would you suggest would give the blog a better appearance? What advice do you think I could give Phil about blogging, keeping in mind I only have an hour with him? Also, keeping in mind that Phil is a very busy man who won't have time to write blog posts every five minutes, what do you think should be a priority for his blog?

Image: 'Dressing Room Only' Ayres no graces

Monday, August 4, 2008

Health on the Net principles and blogs

Last week I audited my blog using the Health of the Net principles and applied for HON accreditation.

Hearing back from HON
Well, I've just heard back from HON and have been told that the HONcode is not applicable for my blog. The email I received said:

The HONcode is intended for web sites with medical or health-related content. To meet the challenge posed by this definition we have had to accept that there will be differences of opinion in sometimes controversial matters. We have concluded that the HONcode does not apply to your web site, therefore we cannot process your request for accreditation. Our decision does not imply that your site does not respect the eight HONcode principles.

I am glad I went through the process because it did draw my attention to the issue of quality of health information posted on the Internet. So I would recommend that health professionals have a look at the principles, even if they do not apply directly to blogs.

Image: 'fishing net' gin able