Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Free professional development for midwives

I've just found out that the Otago Polytechnic School of Midwifery has made several professional development modules freely available to midwives.

The topics are:
  • second stage of labour
  • anaemia
  • assessing labour progress
  • mastitis
  • counselling women with unintended pregnancies
  • bedsharing with babies
The modules are short and consist of an article to read and a 10 question multiple choice quiz. If you get more than 80% of questions right, you get a certificate. Each quiz is worth one professional development point for New Zealand midwives to put towards their recertification requirements.

To access the modules, go to this website and follow the instructions.

Do you know of any other free online professional opportunities for midwives?

Image: 'Snoozing Ollie'

Monday, September 27, 2010

Share-e-fest 2010: The best things in life are free

Welcome to this workshop which aims to be a collaborative exploration of some free tools that you can use to support teaching, presentations, collaborations, sharing and organisation of resources.

Please let us know:
  • what activity you are trying to achieve so we can suggest an appropriate tool;
  • if there is a particular tool you'd like to know more about (not that I promise I will know about the tool)
  • what free tool you'd recommend.
Sharing and using images
Making and sharing video
Screencasts and screenshots

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A note to the sceptics

I often meet resistance to the idea of social networking and online collaboration. The common themes are that people do not feel the time taken to build a network and learn online communication tools is worth the effort. They do not see any benefit compared to the learning, networking and collaboration opportunities they receive in their face-to-face context.

Here's a little story about the value of social networking to me.

I have been talking to Dallas Knight, mostly via Twitter and our blogs, for the last couple of years. Dallas is a PhD candidate at the University of Otago. Her interest is health informatics, and her research is looking at how midwives and pregnant women use technology. I have to admit we have met a couple of times, but our relationship has been built online. We share resources and news, we have discussions...which sometimes we don't agree on...and we support each other in our various interests.

A few months ago, I was invited by Tosh Sheshabalaya, the Managing Editor of 'Healthcare IT Management', to write an article about how New Zealand midwives use technology. I was confident to write about the use of the Internet for professional development and education, but I had no idea what midwives were using for things like practice management. So I asked Dallas if she would co-author the article with me.

The foundation of the article came from a blog post that I was invited to write by Carol Cooper-Taylor for her website 'The eLearning Site' called 'Getting midwives connected', and an ensuing conversation Dallas and I had about midwives' use of the Internet.

We used Google Documents, Skype and Twitter to write our article. For most of the time, I was based in Pakistan and Dallas was back in New Zealand, so we had no chance to meet face-to-face to discuss the article.

The process was remarkably easy. Our extensive online conversations has got us to the point that we can critique each other's work in a constructive way without giving/taking offence. Working in Google Documents made the collaborative writing process extremely easy. The only problem we had to deal with was my wonderful ability to procrastinate...but Dallas graciously took that in her stride.

I don't know about Dallas, but I am extremely pleased with the collaborative process and the end product. I'll let you know when the article becomes available.

Do you have any stories like this about your online social networking that has resulted in an outcome like this one?

Image: 'Meadow of Yellow Flowers and Mountains'

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Enrolling in a Doctorate of Education

I have been musing for some time about what I am going to do with myself in relation to further education and qualifications. I withdrew from my PhD at the beginning of the year and have been trying to make up my mind what to do next...if anything.

I have come to the conclusion that I do need to get a PhD or doctorate if I want any chance of being involved in research at a university level. But now I have moved into generalist education, I have decided a doctorate in education will be of more use to me than a PhD.

So I am applying to enrol in the University of Otago's Doctor in Education program. I think the structure will suit me and keep me on track better than a PhD will. It certainly doesn't look like any less work, but the approach of the course leader, Professor Kwok-Wing Lai, is to develop a community of practice/learning with his students which will provide me with the motivation and support I need.

Let's hope I get accepted. If I do, I start my studies at the beginning of January 2011.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Trying out ProProfs to make online quizzes

I have been asked to try out ProProfs which is a new free program that can be used for making quizzes. Here is the quiz I made for the Facilitating Online course.

I found the tool very easy to use, especially compared to the quiz function in Moodle. You can pre-set how, where and when the quiz can be taken, and whether students can be given the right answer when they get the question wrong. There are a range of different question formats, and you can add video and images to the questions. The program is free for unlimited questions and participants.

I have one small criticism. There is a function whereby you can give feedback to each question. But it is difficult to see the feedback once you have answered the question - I had to make a little effort to find it, so it could be missed if you don't know it is there.

I can definitely recommend this program to anyone wanting to make an online quiz. But at the same time, I cannot help but compare it to MyStudyio which is a similar quiz program. There is little or difference between their functionality but I think MyStudyio looks a little sexier and is a little more user-friendly for the student who takes the quiz.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A special anniversary - 30 years of being a nurse

Today is a special day for me. 30 years ago I started my nurse training at the Salisbury School of Nursing at the Salisbury General Infirmary, Salisbury in the UK.

Good old days
Those were the good old days when nurse education was hospital-based...none of those fancy degrees back in those days! We were taught lots about the nursing process...whatever the *** that was. And we started to move away from task orientated nursing to more individualised care planning. But there was not a lot of talk about evidence-based decision making...let's face junior students, we did what the ward auxiliary told us to do.

How we did it then
I loved my nurse training. We all lived together in various nurses homes and I built some very strong relationships that still exist today. I met some incredibly knowledgeable and dedicated nurses along the way. I also came across some real witches...I can tell you. And even now, I still remember certain patients and scenarios that made an impact on my life.

Those were the days when you just got on and did it. None of this naval gazing for us. When I look back, I was involved in some incredibly heavy stuff, but we did our debriefing down the pub. We had amazing hands-on the end of the second year we were running wards. Life was hard...but there was a fabulous community spirit in the hospital...we all worked together to achieve a common goal...from kitchen hands and porters to medical consultants.

I didn't like A&E...I used to get real tension headaches when I was on duty...but I loved coronary care. I dreaded being in a 'crash call' situation and always disappeared behind curtains if it looked like someone was heading that way. I loved talking to patients on night duty...a quiet time when you had time to sit down and really talk. I loved orthopaedics although it was very hard work. Plastics was scary but fascinating. Loved medicine because of the challenge of making people well...or making their last days on earth as comfortable as possible. I also loved surgery...but hated working in theatres with a passion.

Moving on
Once I qualified as a nurse, it was only a few months before I moved into midwifery where I have been ever since. But those few years in nursing taught me all about empathy...communication...caring....nursing to work as a team...time management and organisation.

To my friends
"Thank you' to all those wonderful nurses I have learned from over the years...especially the 1980 Salisbury intake... Shelia, Jane, Sue, Celeste, Jean, Sharon, Adrian, Chris, Jackie, Becky, Debbie, Bridget, Caroline, Linda, Sarah, Julie and our tutor Rosemary Harris....and anyone I have forgotten.

My final thought...Geez! Has it really been 30 years?! Surely I cannot be that old!!??

Image: Salisbury General Infirmary:

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Where to from here?

This is the last of a series of posts I have written about my adventures in Pakistan. I am left with the question...what next?

My trip was very successful and we managed to achieve most of our objectives for my stay in Karachi. The technology workshops were well attended. I gave up trying to make them experiential because of a lack of computers, so it was more a 'show and tell' but hopefully I left people with a few ideas of what they could do with technology. We also had some very productive talks about midwifery education and the models that Rafat and her team could integrate into the new curriculum for midwifery education in Pakistan. I also did some one-on-one consultancy work with people around individual online courses in nursing and midwifery.

Grateful thanks to midwives at Griffith University
One of the amazing things that has come out of the visit is a connection with the School of Midwifery at Griffith University in Brisbane. Associate Professor Jenny Gamble and her team responded immediately to our calls for support, and within an hour or two responded with a copy of their undergraduate curriculum. This amazing generosity touched our hearts and has made Rafat's life so much easier as she works to move midwifery education into a degree format.

Ongoing work
My work with Rafat will be ongoing. We have some papers we want to write about our international collaboration and the development of midwifery education in Pakistan. We also want to develop and trial an online course. But at the moment, it's one step at a time, supporting Rafat as she does all her development work.

What I learned from my trip
It almost goes without saying that I learned a lot about living in a Muslim country which has left me to reflect on my own attitudes to religion and culture.

But the other thing it really did for me was make me realise just how much I have learned about teaching and learning over the last couple of years, which in turn has raised my confidence about public speaking and working with educators. Moving from being a midwifery educator into a more generalist role has placed me in a situation of no longer being an 'expert'...putting me back into feeling like a novice again. This trip has been a time of consolidation and has had the effect of making me feel a lot more confident in my current role of staff developer at Otago Polytechnic.

Network weaver and match maker
What I am thinking is... now I have no direct affiliation to one particular midwifery institution or organisation, I can develop a role as network weaver or broker - bringing midwifery educators together to support each other....a bit like a match maker.

My current state of independence allows me to have a global view of what's going on and my ability to network allows me to bring people together. I have no particular agenda I have to fit into. All I need to do now is to think about how I can find funding to make this into a more formal project...any ideas?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

What can we do to support midwifery education in developing countries?

I know I cannot make sweeping statements in midwifery education in developing countries after just two weeks in Karachi, but I have come away with two main thoughts about what we can do in Western countries to support our midwifery sisters.

Curriculum development
One of the main problems that Rafat and her team (of one) has is lack of time. She is so busy with dealing with day-to-day operational issues both on a local and national level that she has very little time to sit down and go through all the detailed processes that are involved with curriculum development. And when she does get around to dealing with issues such as developing new programs, she 'wastes' so much time re-inventing the wheel...

Sharing resources
What I would like to see us in Western countries do is share our resources such as curriculum and course outlines. I am not talking about Pakistan replicating our programs but rather being able to take our ideas and processes, and adjusting them to fit the Pakistan context.

I am NOT saying that developing countries should base their programs on what we do in the Western world. But there are elements of all midwifery programs that are generic, so lets help each other as much as we can by sharing these elements.

The second thing I think we need to do is to mentor our colleagues....both in terms of program development and academic scholarship. This needs to include acting as an intermediary or advocate, editor or co-author on papers for publication (especially when English is not the midiwfe's first language), sounding board for curriculum development, research adviser and so on.

It is vital for midwifery academics to get their research published so the world has a better understanding of their work. Unfortunately, all the "credible" academic midwifery journals are English and based in the UK, USA or Australia. So it can be very difficult for midwives in developing countries because English is not their first language, and they just do not have the time to focus on writing. If nothing else, offering editorial support is one thing you can do.

I am also thinking about how we should support midwifery journals that are based in developing countries...we need to lift these journals so they have an academic equality with Western journals. One way we can do this is by publishing our own work in these journals, not just the journals that give us the most 'brownie points'. I will have a look at what journals are available, and write about them in a future post.

What other things do you think we can do to support midwifery education in developing countries?

Friday, September 10, 2010

The best and worst things about Karachi

If you're thinking about travelling to Karachi, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Five top worst things about Karachi
  1. Policemen and security men on every corner holding machine guns.
  2. City is always on an edge, waiting for outbreaks of violence...mostly driven by politics.
  3. Pollution.
  4. Food poisoning - the Karachi version of 'Delhi Belly'.
  5. Can be a lonely place for westerners because there are so few in the city.
Five top best things about Karachi
  1. Warm, welcoming people.
  2. Colour...the buses, women...
  3. Shopping - I didn't find the prices any cheaper than Thailand, but there are some wonderful shops and markets where you can bargain the prices down.
  4. Food - Pakistani people love their food.
  5. Very vibrant city which really comes alive in the evening.
Karachi is a wonderful and exciting place to visit as a tourist. Sadly, it just isn't safe to be on the tourist route. If you do get a chance to visit, do take it. But you must make sure that you are escorted by one of the locals at all times.

I will go back if I get another chance. but I did find it a very restricting place to live in. This was manageable for a short period of time, but I could not live in that environment for much longer.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

My last will and testament

Over the last few weeks I have been in two situations that potentially could have been fatal. My whole trip to Pakistan was potentially lethal. And, I was caught in the middle of the Christchurch earthquake last weekend. But a colleague has laughed at how I have documented everything on Facebook saying "so funny - reaching for facebook straight after an earthquake....". So this has got me thinking about why I have documented so much about my life on the Internet in the last few weeks.

Keeping people informed
One of the main reasons for documenting what has been happening to me has been to keep my family and friends informed of what I am up to. But it is more than has been about contributing to the body of knowledge about events...adding my very small perspective to the greater picture. Maybe in a hundred years a PhD student will take a look at these events to build a picture of what happened and piece together all the Facebook posts to get a glimpse into this moment of our history. And I like to think I have contributed in a very small way to this picture.

Connecting with people
The second reason for using Facebook to tell people what is happening to me is it gives me a chance to find out what is going on...and feel connected to others who are going through the same thing. When we were stuck in Christchurch airport last weekend, for a few hours we had no idea what was going on outside. So it was very reassuring to hear from people...and to know they were OK...and to have their reassurance being sent back to us. It helped me feel that we were not alone.

Documenting my life for my family
My last reason is a tad morbid. In a way I see my Facebook posts...Twitter posts as my living last testament. I leave my family memories...thoughts...insights that they may otherwise not have. In a way, it is me saying "goodbye".

What do you think of what I have said here? Am I being too morbid? Is it too upsetting for the family to see your latest words on Facebook before you die?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Living through an earthquake

My hubby and I had the misfortune to be en route via Christchurch last Saturday and got stuck there when the earthquake struck.

I have experienced tremors before...when you live in New Zealand, you accept this as a way of life. But this earthquake was something else. We were staying in the airport hotel and on the first floor. When the earthquake started, my hubby heard a great roar which he thought was a plane crashing. But then we realised it was an earthquake.

I have to say, I have never been so scared in all my life. All the bedroom doors were flung open. We thought the hotel was going to fall down. I am so grateful Mark was there telling me what to stand in the doorway. I felt totally panicked...I just could not think what I was supposed to do.What is most scary is that you are completely powerless...totally at the mercy of Mother Nature. And you just don't know what is going to happen...all you can do is wait....

I am very grateful I do not live in Christchurch and could go home to relative safety. But I have been surprised with the effect the earthquake has had on me physiologically. Every time I think I can feel a tremour, my heart starts to pound and I go into panic mode again. Goodness knows how the poor people in Christchurch are feeling with the regular after shocks they are still feeling.

Moral of the story
Get prepared...think what your contingency plan will be in the event of an earthquake or natural disaster...make sure all your family knows what to do. The other thing I am going to do is check my insurance and make sure I would be covered if something like the Christchurch disaster happens here in Dunedin.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Home again...

It's been a week since I got home and I most say that I am loving being back in New Zealand. If nothing else, this trip has given me an appreciation of my very privileged way of living...and my own culture.

Downsides of western culture
I'd be the first to admit that we are not perfect in the western world. We do have lots we could learn from places like Pakistan. I know I sound like a fuddy duddy, but would it do our young girls any harm to cover up a little more than they do now? To be a little more circumspect? And what about the time we spend with our extended families...could we focus more on a community approach to living?

Joys of living in the western world
What I appreciate most about living in a country like New Zealand is that we have the choice. If I want to walk down the street with my g-string hanging out...I can...because it's my choice. You may not agree that it is an appropriate thing to do, but you have no right to imprison me, beat me up or torture me because you do not agree with what I say or do.

Being a woman
The other thing I really appreciate is living in a society where women have equal rights to men. Yes...I know there are still problems with inequality here...for example, pay. But we can come and go as we please, and we have legal rights that protect us.

Being different
The other thing I have realised about my time in Karachi is how lonely it is when you are different to the prevailing culture.... both in terms of how you look and what you say. I have talked about being culturally sensitive or competent, but that is easy to say when you are in the majority.

Appreciation of other cultures
My trip to Pakistan was an amazing opportunity and I am very grateful for it. I have a much better understanding of the culture and way of living which will impact on my teaching and midwifery practice.

Muslim countries such as Pakistan get a lot of bad press. And yes, there are terrible things that happen there. But the majority of Muslems are struggling hard to get by on a day to day basis. They are incredibly warm and welcoming people. They do not deserve to be painted with the brush of extremists or terriorists. They are...just like you and me. The best thing we can do is to support them as much as we can.

Have you ever spent time in a country that has a different culture or language? What has been the lessons you have brought home?