Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Free online course for people wanting to know more about how to facilitate online

It's that time of year when the free, online course "Facilitating Online" starts again. Anyone who wants to join as an informal learner, doing the course for fun, is very welcome. All you have to do is add your name to the participants page and follow the course schedule. If you cannot work out how to add your name to the wiki, please follow the instructions here.

Course blog
The course also has a blog which we will use for class communications, weekly instructions and summaries of the week's events.

Who will the course appeal to?
The course is aimed at:
  • teachers who want to know how to facilitate online learning,
  • non-profit organisations who want to know how to facilitate online networks and and communities, events and campaigns,
  • businesses who want to know how to make the best use of online communication tools for meetings, conferences, seminars and workshops.
What does the course cover?
The online course has three phases which will allow you to dip in and out of the course according to your particular learning needs, starting July 19th, 2010.
  • In Phase One (July 19th-August 22nd), we will be looking at the theory of online facilitation and some case studies.
  • In Phase Two (August 23rd-October 17th) we will work through the process of developing an online event with hands-on experience of using online communication tools.
  • Phase Three (October 18th-November 19th) will be devoted to facilitating and evaluating your own online event which will be part of the mini-conference.
What do I do if I want to become an enrolled student?
If you wish to receive full feedback and assessment services, you will need to enrol as a formal participant into this course (fees apply). For more information about enrolling as a formal participant please contact the course administrator at Otago Polytechnic, Catherine Lindsay.

Feedback about the course schedule
I am still putting the course schedule together however some of the topics and week's activities are available to look at. I would be interested in feedback on what I have put together so far. What I am particularly interested to know is:
  • what do you think of the amount of resources I have posted?
  • what you think of the number and depth of activities I have asked participants to do on a weekly basis?
Please feel free to contact me if you want any further information.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Back in Australia for a maternity care multidisciplinary conference

I am back in Australia this week. I am visiting my old friend Leigh Blackall at Canberra University and talking to the Nursing and Midwifery school about the Second Life project and virtual birth unit.

The second half of the week will be spent in Alice Springs attending the maternity care multidisciplinary conference "Breathing new life". This will be an interesting conference because it is focusing on how midwives and obstetricians can work together more effectively. Considering the state of play in Australia at the moment, especially the relations between midwives and obstetricians, I shall be fascinated to see what people come up with.

I will be giving two presentations. One presentation will be about how Second Life can be used to develop role play scenarios that will help midwives and obstetricians improve team work in the clinical context. The second presentation is about how to use social media and online tools for collaborative communication and teamwork.

I have to admit that one of the highlights of the week will be having a look around Alice Springs which has been a place of interest for me ever since watching the film "A town like Alice" . I am hoping to see kangaroos and maybe even take a ride on a camel.

Image: ''Road to Nowhere', Australia, Alice Springs to+Uluru,+Outback' WanderingtheWorld ( )

Saturday, June 26, 2010

My recommendation for a free, open midwifery journal

I have been thinking about how midwives can publish their research. In the front of my mind has been the question: is there a need for an open access international midwifery journal ie a journal that is available online for readers to access without having to pay a subscription charge.

My analysis of open access midwifery journals has shown there is a limited choice for midwives and the market could probably cope with a journal that focuses on open access as a primary aim and managed as such. On the other hand, the Australian College of Midwives journal "Women and Birth" meets my needs - it is open access, has a very credible editorial board and review process led by Professor Kathleen Fahy. The only drawback is that it does not have the same international profile as some of the subscription midwifery journals.

So where does this leave me...and midwives. I do not have the time or energy at the moment to drive the development of an open access journal. And in view of the excellent work that is already happening with "Women and Birth", I am going to recommend that midwives support this journal. If we support it with our work, the journal's profile will increase on the international stage.

What journal would you prefer to publish your research in? If you are a midwife or student who has never published an article before, what support would you like to help you do this?

Image: 'road trip journal' lecates

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

How to decide which open access journal to submit your midwifery research

I have been looking into open access journals to see what journals are out there that will meet the academic needs of midwives who wish to publish their research, commentaries and clinical case studies.

Here is the criteria I have used to help me choose appropriate open journals for midwives to publish in.
  1. Relevant to midwives.
  2. International journal.
  3. Free for authors to publish, and free for readers. A large number of open access journals charge a publication fee which significantly reduces options to authors who are not funded.
  4. Credible, academic editors and editorial board.
  5. Clear peer-review process.
  6. Cited in databases used by health professionals such as Pubmed and Cinalh.
  7. Having an 'impact factor' is an advantage but not necessary. If it does not have an impact factor, it needs to be found easily in a Google search.
  8. Preferably an established journal that has been running at least a couple of years.
I have come up with a few suggestions of journals for potential authors like myself, and given each suggestion a score to help us decide where to submit our work.

1 = Meets only a few criteria and may be a poor publication option for midwives.
5 = Meets all criteria and is an excellent publication option for midwives.

NB: This score is subjective - I would highly recommend that you check out each journal before you decide where to submit your articles. I must also acknowledge that I have taken a white, English-speaking approach to my choices.

Open access journals for midwifery publications
Here are some suggestions for journals that midwives may wish to submit articles for publication with a few comments that may help you decide if this is a journal for you.

New Zealand College of Midwives Journal: This bi-annual journal is published in paper form and eventually makes its way online quite a few months later as a pdf. This journal focuses mostly on New Zealand midwifery issues, but is indexed in Cinalh.
Score: 3/5 This journal is published online but it takes a long time before it becomes available.

Women and Birth: This is the journal of the Australian College of Midwives published by Elsevier. There are four issues every year and full text articles are available from 2006. Has a very credible academic editorial board, but articles have mostly Australian focus. Indexed in Pubmed and Cinalh.
Score: 4.5/5 Needs to be more international but otherwise a great open access journal.

Canadian Journal of Midwifery Research and Practice
: This is the journal of the Canadian Association of Midwives. It is not clear if the peer review process is blind and there is minimal information about the editors. There are two issues a year with only a few articles per issue that focus on Canadian midwifery issues. No information about indexing on databases.
Score: 3/5 Fabulous to see this journal in an open access format but a lot of work needs to be done to raise its profile.

Rural and Remote Health: International journal dealing with research, education, practice and policy with a rural/remote focus. Fully indexed with peer-review process.
Score: 5/5 My only complaint is that this journal does not have a Creative Commons licence which means the journal retains copyright, not the author.

International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being: This journal is free for authors this year and is edited by an international team of academics. There are four issues per year and topics range across health including pregnancy and birth. Authors retain copyright with a Creative Commons licence. The journal in indexed in all the health-related databases.
Score: 2/5 Likely to have an appeal to only a small number of midwifery researchers and authors.

Pimatisiwin. Journal of Indigenous and Aboriginal Community Health: This journal currently has no articles related to midwives or maternity, but it could attract midwifery research.
Score: 2/5 Good choice of journal for midwives whose research is focused on indigenous issues.

International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health: Peer-reviewed journal for research carried out in developing countries, including issues pertaining to pregnancy and birth. Editorial board is made up of Americans and does not have international members. Abstracts are also in French and Spanish. Has a blind peer review process but I cannot see where the journal is indexed.
Score: 2/5 I have given this journal a low score because of its reduced appeal to midwifery authors.

International Journal of Medical Education
. This is a new journal that has started this year. It has an international editorial board and is free to publish. It focuses on medical education but will receive submissions from other health professionals. There is no information about indexing but that is probably because this is a new journal.
Score: 3/5 I am in two minds about the score for this journal. I hope it will become inter-professional as time goes by. If it does not, then it may not be a good option for midwifery educators.

Practice and Evidence of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education
. This journal has been around for a few years. The editorial board is British and there is no information about indexing.
Score: 2/5 This journal would not be my first choice for publishing midwifery education research.

The Educational Research Journal. This is another new journal. What I like about this journal is that it is hosted in Pakistan with an international editorial board. Time will tell as to how useful it will be for midwives.
Score: 1/5

International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning. I have included this journal because of the increasing number of midwifery programs turning to online and distance delivery. This journal is highly respected in eLearning circles with an international readership and indexing. It uses a Creative Commons licence which means you retain copyright over your work.
Score: 5/5 This journal is very worth looking at if you want to publish research and commentary around online/distance midwifery education.

Journal of Online Learning and Teaching. This is another journal that midwifery educators could submit articles to if they are involved with eLearning. The emphasis is North American but there are a number of articles with a health focus. I could not see any information about indexing but the journal uses several social networking tools to disseminate information about the journal.
Score: 3.5/5

International Journal of Qualitative Methods.
Contains a number of articles relating to health so may be of interest to some midwives. Has blind review process and international board of editors. Downside is that I could not see any information about indexing.
Score: 2/5

More journals
You can find full details about open access journals in the Directory of Open Access Journals, Royal College of Midwives,, BioMed Central, Bentham Open and PubMed Central.

Have you ever thought of publishing your thoughts or research in an open access journal? What do you see are the advantages? What would stop you publishing in an open access journal?

Image: 'Tome Reader' Ozyman's photostream

Monday, June 21, 2010

Collecting free, online resources for midwifery education

I have been asked to make a short visit to the Aga Khan university in Pakistan as a result of an online friendship I have developed with Associate Professor Rafat Jan over the last 2-3 years. Rafat and I have been talking about midwifery education for some time and she has asked me to do some work with her as she develops an online midwifery course.

Web resource
One of the main objectives of my visit would be to start collecting and collating free online resources that Rafat could use in her teaching (or any midwifery educator for that matter). 

I think the best place to start this work is in Wikieducator. It isn't necessarily the easiest online platform to use for newbies, but it has improved since the inception of rich text editing. What I think will be useful for this work is the strong community that uses Wikieducator, including a large number of educators who live in less privileged countries.

I started to set up a template in Wikieducator but that is as far as I have got at this stage.

Stock take
What I would like to know is if there is a website or place where this is happening already - there's no point in re-inventing the wheel. I know Carolyn McIntosh started to do this in Wikieducator so it may be that all I need to do is build on her work.

There is also a website called "Health Services Online" which is an appears to be an excellent repository for health information. However, it does not focus on midwifery and it contains all sorts of information, not just education resources.

I am thinking that this project would benefit from funding so that time can be used for development of the website, searching for resources, development of resources if a gap is identified (and to make resouces for the Pakistan context) and to embed a research strategy.

How you can help
If you know of any place where free online midwifery resources are being collated for education please let me know.  And I would also like to hear about any resources that you feel would be appropriate for midwifery education that I can add to the list I am making.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Saying 'goodbye' to Carisbrook, Dunedin

Last night I went to Carisbrook to watch the All Blacks vs Wales rugby game. The night held particular significance because it was the last international game to be held at Carisbrook. From next year, all rugby games will be held at the new Forsyth Barr stadium which is just being built.

The Terrace experience
One of the special things about Carisbrook is the section called the Terrace which is the cheaper place to go and stand and watch the game. Invariably the Terrace is populated with noisy, drunk students which adds to a fantastic atmosphere. There's usually plenty of girls there, preening and posturing for the boys...after all, what place could be better for picking a likely lad for the evening.

To my mind there's no better place to watch an international rugby game than the Terrace. Admittedly, things get a bit wild and feral at times, but that all adds to the experience. I love watching the people...loving their rugby, shouting abuse at the referee, chatting up the girl next door. And, the haka (which I think is so often over done at events) is spine chilling.

The new stadium
The new stadium is well on its way to being built - the photo above was taken back in April. It will be open next year in time for the rugby World Cup games that will be held down here in Dunedin.

Goodbye to Carisbrook
Last night Carisbrook really turned things on for us. The weather was prefect for watching rugby - a tad chilled but the warmth of the occasion (and a few glasses of wine) sustained us. The Mexican waves added a degree of danger that gave us a thrill. And the All Blacks won a great game of rugby.

I shall really miss the Terrace and believe the new stadium will lack the unique atmosphere that the Terrace brings to a rugby game. However, the new stadium will have a roof which means we will all keep warm and dry on those terrible wet Dunedin days, when we would otherwise get soaked and go down with pneumonia if we'd been at Carisbrook.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

How do you use online tools for collaborative teamwork?

I am attending a conference called "Breathing new life" in a couple of weeks. This conference is aimed at midwives and obstetricians, with the theme of the conference being 'working together, learning from each other'. The conference program says:

"Our shared vision for this conference is that interprofessional learning opportunities will result in a new shared culture of care in the future where the woman is at the centre and mutual understanding, trust and effective collaboration become the cornerstones of best care."

My presentations
I am giving a couple of presentations. One presentation is about how I see Second Life as a conduit for inter-professional collaboration and especially team development.

Collaborative teamwork
My other presentation (which I am asking help for) is called "How to use online tools for collaborative teamwork". Here is the abstract:

The aim of this conference is to encourage midwives and obstetricians to work together in collaborative teams but there are a number of barriers to effective team work in maternity services. Heavy workloads and lack of staff produce time constraints. Geographical location inhibits face-to-face meetings, especially for rural and remote practitioners. Funding for time release, back-fill, flights and accommodation create further hindrances to development of state-wide and national teams. In this age of financial retrenchment, health professionals are advised to think about how they can function as ‘online teams’ using Internet tools for communication and collaboration, sharing information and project development. Using free online tools reduces costs of teamwork, encourages flexibility of time and place, which in turn supports the team’s sustainability. Online communication tools also provides the team with opportunities to develop into communities of practice that deal with a wider range of issues within the maternity services with an open membership that includes other staff, professionals and healthcare consumers. This presentation aims to discuss how free online tools such as blogs, wiki, Google Documents, Skype and DimDim supports teamwork by enabling discussion of ideas, development of collaborative documents, and communication via web conferencing.

Would love to hear from you if you are a health professional, especially midwife, obstetrician or paediatrician

What I would really appreciate is a quick comment here about how you use any online tool for communication and collaboration, virtual team work or project management. I would especially like to hear from health professionals with examples from health. I would also like thoughts on how health consumers can be added into the mix ie how can health professionals collaborate with consumers online.

Leave a comment
I would very much like to hear from midwives, obstetricians and paediatricians and any other health profession involved in the maternity sector so I can show how I have used this blog for collaboration. So please feel free to leave a comment or contact me on Twitter or Facebook.

Make a very short video
The other thing that would be fabulous is if you were able to make a short video I could embed into my presentation about how you use online tools. It need be no more than a minute, and a smallish file so we can handle it via email etc.

Look forward to hearing from you :)

Image: 'Working Together Teamwork Puzzle Concept' lumaxart

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Glad to be home

I have just spent a week in Australia catching up with midwifery friends and colleagues. There are a number of changes happening in the maternity system in Australia including national registration of midwives and the ability of midwives to claim funding so they can practice independent of hospital employment. These changes will put the maternity system more in line with that of New Zealand.

I have to say that I have come home very confused by all the different rules and regulations, and totally exhausted after listening to what midwives are saying about all the politiking that is going on both in the profession itself, and with the medical profession and government.

What it has made me realise is the beauty of the simplicity of midwifery regulation in New Zealand.  I won't deny that there are things that I do not agree with, but here in New Zealand, a midwife is a midwife is a midwife. We are educated to be autonomous midwives as soon as we qualify and supported by legislation and insurance to be self-employed practitioners.

I wish my midwifery colleagues in Australia all the best as they move into a new era, and would like to say how much I respect and admire the work they are doing to move the profession forward. But boy, am I glad I am a midwife in New Zealand because I don't know if I would have the emotional energy to fight the battles they are fighting or go through the processes that are demanded of them before they can practice as self-employed midwives.

I'd love to hear from any Australian midwives or pregnant women. What is your take on the changes that are happening now? How will the changes affect you as midwife or mum-to-be?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Mentoring for midwives and students in education and clinical practice

A few years ago I carried out a survey of New Zealand midwives and their experience of mentoring and support in the workplace. The report from this survey went on to be the framework for the 'first year of practice' program developed by the New Zealand College of Midwives in 2006.

I used this report to underpin some further work in eMentoring, but never got around to publishing this in academic journals. And then, to be honest, I moved on and forgot about it. But there has been a resurgence of interest in the report in Australia where midwifery is starting to follow the New Zealand models of undergraduate education and clinical practice.

So, here is the original report - please click here to access the pdf copy.

I would love to hear any feedback and comments, especially from midwives who are interested in using formal mentoring programs in education or practice, especially in Australia.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Handbook for eMentoring

As part of the eMentoring program that I implemented for Aged Care Queensland in 2009, I developed a 'Handbook for eMentoring' - please click here to access the pdf copy.

The handbook gives information about eMentoring, how we learn in the workplace, how to design, implement and evaluate an eMentoring program.

The handbook has been designed for the aged care industry, but the principles of eMentoring are the same for any workplace or education context.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

WallWisher - a very easy tool for online communication and participation

I am loving WallWisher which is an incredibly easy tool to use for online communication and participation. Its don't have to download anything...and you don't need to have an account.

You can use it as a personal online pin or notice board, or you can use it as a group message board or way to get feedback from people.

Here is a WallWisher I made to find out what people think about online facilitation. - feel free to leave a comment or 'sticky'.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Workforce development, staff support and eMentoring

Last week I was invited to attend the National Community Care Conference 2010 at the Gold Coast, Australia. At the conference I spoke about the eMentoring program I developed in conjunction with Aged Care Queensland in 2009.

Here are a few of my thoughts I talked about in regards to implementing an eMentoring program at work for staff support and development.

What is eMentoring?
We know support in the workplace increases staff recrutiment and retension. We also know mentoring is an effective support mechanism which increases staff job satisfaction and reduces workplace stress and burn out. However, geographical and professional isolation can make it difficult to access a mentor, let alone an appropriate mentor.

This is where eMentoring comes into its own. eMentoring is mentoring using online communication tools ranging from email, text messaging, web conferencing and web cam.

What are the advantages of eMentoring?
eMentoring allows you to access a wider range of people to be a mentor, making it easier for a mentor to meet the specific needs of a mentee. It is especially useful for people who are isolated and cannot access traditional face-to-face ementoring or professional development activitieis.

What are the issues you need to address in an eMentoring program?
  • Staff training - use of technology, how to conduct themselves in a mentoring relationship, how to communicate in a non face-to-face environment.
  • Confidentiality in the online environment and professional use of online resources.
  • Support of eMentoring program by employers and the rest of the staff.
  • Support of the participants in the program.
  • Support of technology by IT staff eg sorting firewalls so that staff can access technologies such as Skype.
My last thought:

A poorly designed and implemented eMentoring programme is worse than having no eMentoring program at all.

Have you had any experience of eMentoring, in a formal program or informal relationship? What were the highlights of the relationship and what didn't work so well?