Monday, November 29, 2010

So proud of my kids

I had a terrible dream the other know the sort...the sort that you think are real and when you wake up, you are so relieved that it wasn't real. My dream was that it was Christmas Eve and I had bought nothing and I was trying to get hold of a turkey, Christmas ham and crackers, and all the shops had sold out...all I could think about was how upset my family were going to be.....anyway...I digress...

So this has got me thinking about Christmas. Our Christmases are usually fairly quiet. Inevitably the kids are working all over Christmas, except for Christmas Day, to earn money to make up for being poor students all year. Our family live in England, so we usually hook up with family friends who are Australian, and also family-less. We always hope for good weather so we can go down to the local park and have our version of 'The Ashes'.

This year is going to be very quiet. Our Australian friends have moved back to Australia. And my husband has to work until 4pm on Christmas Day.

I was thinking about how the three of us would occupy ourselves while we waited for dad to come home from work, and suggested we do some voluntary help out with the Christmas dinner for the homeless and lonely at one of our local churches. To be honest, I didn't think the kids would be very impressed with the idea. But I am thrilled that they think it is a great idea and are really keen to do something useful on Christmas Day.

I am so proud of their enthusiasm and willingness to get involved in something where they give to others, at a time when they'd be forgiven for focusing on their own needs. You never know, this may become a new family Christmas tradition.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Obstetric violence: a new legal term in Venezuela

I have just heard about this legal move in Venezuela from Jane Sandall on the Midwifery Research email group, that makes "obstetric violence" an action that midwives and doctors can be prosecuted for.

Obstetric violence may include:
  1. Untimely and ineffective attention of obstetric emergencies;
  2. Forcing the woman to give birth in a supine position, with legs raised, when the necessary means to perform a vertical delivery are available;
  3. Impeding the early attachment of the child with his/her mother without a medical cause thus preventing the early attachment and blocking the possibility of holding, nursing or breast-feeding immediately after birth;
  4. Altering the natural process of low-risk delivery by using acceleration techniques, without obtaining voluntary, expressed and informed consent of the woman;
  5. Performing delivery via cesarean section, when natural childbirth is possible, without obtaining voluntary, expressed, and informed consent from the woman
You may well say..."but that's in Venezuela...that doesn't happen here in New Zealand...or Australia...or the UK!"

But doesn't it?

I can certainly think of occasions when I would say obstetric violence was inflicted on a woman. If I was traumatised by watching, how on earth would the woman and her family be feeling?!

What I think is so interesting about this legislation is that it talks about carrying out procedures without a woman's consent. As midwives, I am sure we pride ourselves that we would never do this. But what about the times we get consent from a woman when she is in no state to really think for this obstetric violence? What about the times we get consent by using our power of health professional...bamboozling her with science and "I know best...I am the midwife" that obstetric violence?" What about the times we give information in a biased way to get a woman's consent without giving her the full that obstetric violence?

Food for thought.

The full details can be found in the article: International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics Volume 111, Issue 3, Pages 201-290 (December 2010).

Image: 'Tears II'

Thursday, November 25, 2010

My ePortfolio in the cloud

I am still thinking about the ePortfolio conference I went to a couple of weeks ago in Melbourne. When I was there, I presented my thoughts and experiences about being a health professional and having an ePortfolio in the 'cloud'.

The conference raised all the same dilemmas that I have been struggling with for the last couple of years like security of information, privacy for myself as a health professional as well as the people I work with, and digital literacy.

ePortfolio for nurses and midwives
As ePortfolio becomes more mainstream in education and professional practice, another issue nurses and midwives have to sort out is portability of ePortfolio and how it integrates between education and the profession.

Which way do we go?
So on the one hand I am personally committed to keeping my ePortfolio in the format I am currently a mix of blog, wiki, YouTube, Slideshare etc. But on the other hand I recognise why education and professional institutions, as well as hospitals and health organisations are moving toward standardised, closed ePortfolio platforms....places where midwives and nurses can reflect in private, and a technology that easily interacts with systems set up by professional regulatory bodies.

Bottom line?
I am about to get into discussions about implementation of ePortfolio in education and professional practice so feel I have to come to some sort of compromise. Yet at the same time, I do have several bottom lines, or at least, beliefs that I am really passionate about.
  • Nurses and midwives, including students, should be allowed to have a choice about how and where they develop their ePortfolio.
  • ePortfolio should have the facility for people to share in a community of practice, not just with individuals like a potential employer or lecturer.
  • There needs to be collaboration between education providers, professional bodies and health organisations to make sure there is as little fragmentation as possible between systems and platforms.
I would love to hear from any nurses and midwives who are interested in this area and/or are working to implement ePortfolio, especially in Australia and New Zealand. What are you using for ePortfolio? How do you see hospitals implementing ePortfolio? Do you know of any collaborations between educational institutions, hospitals and professional bodies to implement a "standardised" platform across the board?

In the meantime, here is the presentation I gave last week.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

How do you know that clinical simulation makes a difference to learning?

I have been mulling how I can evaluate the Second Life Virtual Birthing Unit in a way that shows it makes a difference to student midwives' learning. A couple of things have happened in the last week that has moved my thinking a little further.

Last week I introduced the Second Life Virtual Birth Unit to Associate Professor Margaret Hansen and some of her nursing students. The two main comments that came up were that the virtual birth unit felt a "safe" learning environment. The second comment the students made was that this simulation felt a lot more realistic and they could get more involved than they could with the simulations in their clinical laboratories.

In the "hot seat"
Yesterday, I had a fascinating conversation with Swee Kin Loke who is working with medical students in the Otago Virtual Hospital which he has developed in OpenSim. When I asked him how he measured learning outcomes, he said that this was very difficult and something he had not worked out yet. What is clear, though, is that for all the various simulations in Second Life that have been developed to teach health professionals, there are very few rigorous evaluations that show how the sims impact on teaching and learning, other than the "soft" data such as the students' experience of the sim.

Difficulty in quantifying learning
When it comes to measuring the learning experience of health professionals, in the clinical setting, there are many variables that need to be taken into consideration - the Second Life Birth Unit and OpenSim Hospital are not about teaching students new information, but rather giving them the opportunity to practice being "real" doctors and other words...being in the "hot seat". Swee Kin said that in paper scenarios, medical students are given the whole context and all the information. With the simulations in the Virtual Hospital, they are thrown in the deep end and have to get on with things...just like they will have to do when they are registered doctors. As far as he was concerned, the learning in virtual simulations is more about the "a ha" moments, which are very hard to quantify and generalise.

Making comparisons
Going back to my question about how to measure learning outcomes, I have been leaning toward looking at hard outcomes like exam grades before and after exposure to the Birth Unit, but I appreciate there are a number of problems with this approach. Since my conversations with Kin and the American nursing students, I am wondering if it would be better to do a comparison between simulations held in the face-to-face classroom and laboratory, and the Second Life normal birth scenario.

Developing expertise
The other idea that Kin has is comparing how an expert practitioner behaves in the simulation...solves problems...communicates...makes assessments, compared to the students. This would help me draw conclusions about what the student has to do to progress to the level of "expert" but I am not sure how it would answer my question about the difference the Birth Unit makes to students' learning.

What Kin reminded me about was that it is possible to video and record students' interactions in SL which makes it easier to do content analysis, and also use for debrief with students.

How do you know clinical simulation works?
What has been highlighted to me is that I need to do a lot more reading about how students learn from clinical simulation in the traditional forms, and maybe I'll be able to take ideas from current research and adapt them for the virtual environment.

I'd love to hear from health educators who use simulation to teach nurses, doctors, midwives etc. How do you assess the effectiveness of this form of teaching and learning?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Global shut down of home birth

It seems to me that there is a global movement to shut down homebirth. In Australia midwives are finding it virtually impossible to practice as a homebirth midwife because of lack of funding and draconian statutory requirements for independent midwives. In Hungry, a homebirth midwife Agnes Gereb has been imprisoned for her practice. In Ireland, a law has just been passed that has made it virtually impossible for women to have homebirth. Even Holland, where homebirth has been shown to be a safe, viable option is undergoing a damaging media campaign, in other words, using flawed research to make assumptions that have scientific inaccuracies.

Why should we care?

Because women's rights around birth are being eroded and credible research that supports homebirth or at the very least questions the safety of birthing in hospitals, is being ignored.

If women have their ability to have a homebirth supported by a skilled midwife taken away from them, what is likely to be the knock-on effects? So I ask again...why should we care?

Image: 'wombed again'

Experimenting with organic insecticide

I am very pleased to see my broad beans doing really well in the small pots I am growing them in. But I have noticed they already have some white/green fly.

I was given a tip a few weeks ago that you can make organic insecticide that will get rid of green fly on vegetables by soaking onion skin in water and then spraying your plants. I have no idea how much onion or water you use...and no idea how long you soak the onion. So everything is an experiment for me at this stage.

As you can see by the photo above, I have soaked my onion skins for over a month...actually I completely forgot about them! But once I scrapped the mould away I have a very strong smelling liquid. I sprayed the broad beans yesterday...I'll let you know what the result is.

In the meantime, my tomato, courgette and cucumber seedlings are being decimated by a very small, black mite. Any tips on how I can get rid of that...especially in the organic line?

What is your favourite way of ridding vegetables of pests? What organic brew do you use?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Not listening to a word Leigh Blackall says

One of the things I love about my blog is that it allows me to go back in time and track what I have been doing and learning...and hopefully I'll see the evidence that I'm turning into a better and greater person.

But I had to laugh a couple of days ago when I found a comment by Leigh Blackall that he made here a year ago. Leigh has been my mentor for a few years and loves to challenge me. This is what he said to me last year.

:P you never listen. Eportfolios. Secondlife. Noodle. Wikieducator. What can I say. You learn from your mistakes. My job is to make sure of it!

So here I am in 2010...collaborating in an international Second Life project with the Virtual Birth Unit...using Wikieducator to deliver my courses and harping on about ePortfolio......still making the same old mistakes a year later.....just don't tell him, will you!?!

Friday, November 19, 2010

How to evaluate the learning outcomes of the Virtual Birth Unit in Second Life?

I have just started looking at the Virtual Birth Unit (BU) and normal birth scenario with midwifery educators in the USA and UK. They want to use the BU with their midwifery students. I suggested we carry out a formal research project to evaluate how the BU impacts on the midwifery students' learning in relation to the learning outcomes of the courses they are taking.

The stage we are at is trying to decide what outcomes we want the students to achieve and how we will evaluate them. Here are some questions that oen of the educators I am working with came up with.
  • How do we assess outcomes without a comparison group?
  • What outcomes are reasonable to measure?
  • Do we measure pre and post simulation?
  • How can we best document the value of the simulation and debriefing?
  • How do we keep bias out when we are the ones involved in the research and teaching?
I'd love to hear from anyone who has used simulation to teach students, especially health Second Life. Or anyone who has experience of evaluating the impact of a specific intervention on students' learning. What methodology do you think is appropriate to use? How would you advise we measure or assess how the Virtual Birth Unit has impacted on students' learning?

Image: Virtual birthing unit. SLENZ tour

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Is it worth going to a conference these days?

I have been thinking a lot recently about the pros and cons of going to face-to-face conferences. Next year is the International Confederation of Midwives' 3-yearly congress in Durban and I have had an abstract for a workshop about social media accepted. I am working to increase my profile on the international midwifery stage as social media educator and push my "open education" agenda, so going to this conference can be argued to be a good strategy to do this. But it is going to cost me at least $10,000NZ which in real terms would pay for the new bathroom that my old house desperately requires. So if nothing else, I have to work very hard to justify this expense to my darling husband.

In view of the expense of going to face-to-face conferences and as more and more learning opportunities present themselves online, I am asking myself why do I go to face-to-face conferences?

Share my research, thoughts and reflections
The reality is that in a conference no more than a couple of hundred people (more likely 20- 30 people) will hear my presentation and then probably forget me. By using online tools like this blog, Slideshare, YouTube etc I am able to get my message out to hundreds, if not thousands of people, and my work stays visible.

Learn stuff
As an academic I get brownie points for presenting papers at peer-reviewed conferences to put on my CV. So usually my choice of conference is driven by professional expediency, not what I think I will learn at the conference. Often as not, the program does not meet my needs because my reasons for attending are what I give to the conference, not what I get out of it. With the increasing number of webinars and online conferences available, I can pick and chose what I want to attend to meet my learning a time that suits me.

Talk to researchers
I do enjoy talking to people about their research at conferences because I am able to ask them the hard questions about their research which often does not get talked about in journal articles. But as researchers are increasingly joining online communities of practice such as the ePortfolio COP and the Forum for discussion on midwifery and reproductive health research, I am finding it increasing easy to talk to researchers about their work online, with 0n-going conversations as opposed to those that stop once the conference has ended.

Network with others
The adage I hear time and time again about conferences is that they are so good for networking. But I do effective networking via social media...I do not have the need to go to conferences. In fact, because I am a tad shy at conferences, I have been known to go to a conference by myself and hardly speak to anyone.

What is the future for face-to-face conferences?
What is the answer? Martin Wellor has been asking similar questions in his post "Am I done with conferencing?" and his approach is to go down the unconference road...this is, not to do away with face-to-face conferences but rather to do away with presentations and focus on meeting people's specific learning needs in group conversations. Steve Wheeler also advocates that we keep face-to-face conferences in his post "Is the conference dead?" because you cannot beat the value of social interaction.

What about the non-academics?
I think it is all well and good us academics pontificating, but what about those of us who are not academics...those of us who do not get professional development funding or travel grants from our university employers or research funding bodies? Or those of us who not not get paid to make key-note speeches?

In the midwifery context, I am very mindful of the midwives all over the world who will be unable to attend the ICM congress next year because of lack of funding and time constraints. I appreciate that online conferences and webinars are not the be all and end all, and many midwives will be unable to attend online events because of their lack of computer and Internet access. Nevertheless, as far as midwives are concerned, online events increase their ability to engage with each other and the profession.

Am I going to South Africa?
So what is my conclusion about attending the ICM Congress next year? I am afraid it will all come down to finances in the end. If I can get some help with funding, I will go because I have never attended an ICM congress before and I do want to talk to the ICM leaders about how they can integrate social media into their ICM communication strategy. If I don't get the funding....hubby will get his new bathroom!

What are your thoughts about attending conferences? What did you get out of the last conference you attended? Have you even considered attending online conferences and webinars? Will you be going to the ICM congress in 2011?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Who is watching you on Twitter?

I have been following the story of one of our local politicians. Fliss Butcher is deeply unhappy with how the Dunedin City Council is being organised. And long story short, is off on sick leave.

The story has been written up in our local paper, the Otago Daily Times. The reporter, Mark Price, tells the story and ends his article that Fliss is continuing to communicate to people via Twitter and he quotes one of her tweets, which has personal content.

What interested me about this story was that the reporter had used Twitter to get information about Fliss...that Twitter is no longer a fad but a mainstream source of information.

A little later Fliss made this comment on Twitter. "Incredible to think Mark Price from ODT must have been scrolling through my twitter account. Wot about twitter ettiquiette?"

The truth is that anything you openly publish on the Internet, be it in Twitter, Facebook, blogs or whatever, is fair game to reporters or anyone else, and open to any number of uses and interpretations. And everything you say runs the risk of being taken out of context.

I am not saying that what the reporter did is good practice, and I certainly am not criticising Fliss. But I feel the lesson for us all (even if we are not public figure like Fliss) is: if we do not want people mis-quoting us, or using our personal information with "nefarious" motives we must either censor what we say, or keep our Twitter, Facebook etc accounts closed to invited people only.

Have you ever had the experience of having your online words reported in a way that harmed or upset you?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

My picks for the Edublogs Awards 2010

I cannot believe it's that time of year again...time to send in my nominations for the 2010 Edublog Awards. Here are my picks for the education blogs and online sites that have supported my learning this year.

Best individual blog: Anne Marie Cunningham -
Anne is a GP and clinical lecturer. Anne's blog has become extremely influential in terms of educating health professionals. She is a very open and honest person who reflects in a way that influences my own thinking. She shares resources, facilitates many very useful conversations, and her blog really stands out in the field of health education.

Best individual tweeter: Alec Couros -!/courosa
There are so many wonderful people who contribute to my earning that it is very difficult to pick just one person. The reason I have nominated Alec this year is because I love his balance between professional and personal tweets, the resources he shares and the way he models his PLN.

Best student blog
: Jane Scripps -
Nominating a student blog from the online course I facilitate, "Facilitating Online", has become my way of acknowledging and celebrating the work of the students. This year I would like to nominate the blog of Jane Scripps which is a wonderful example of reflective practice in which Jane charts her learning journey with insight and honesty.

Best resource sharing blog: The OLDaily -
I really don't know how Stephen Downes maintains the commitment he has shown for years in providing this service, but suffice to say, the OLDaily is of the main ways I keep in touch with what's going on in the world of education.

Most influential blog post: John “Pathfinder” Lester "With every Exodus comes Expansion: Educators and Non-profits in Second Life"
This post explains the issues that are currently facing educators who use Second Life in their work, and gives advice and options about alternatives to Second Life. This post was influential to me on a personal level because it re-energised my interest in Second Life and got me reflecting on my use of virtual worlds in midwifery education. As a result of this reflection I have now become involved in an international collaboration that is expanding the work of the Virtual Birth Unit.

Best teacher blog: Nancy White -
Nancy's blog is a wonderful mix of personal reflections and resources that I use as the framework for a lot of my own teaching and research. What I have admired over the years is her honesty and generosity which I hope I go some way to emulate.

Best educational use of video / visual: RSA Animate - Changing Education Paradigms -
I just love this animation of a talk about education given by Sir Ken Robinson. The talk in itself is extremely powerful, however the visuals gives it an extra buzz making this a "must-watch" video for educators.

Best educational wiki: Jokaydia Virtual Worlds Wiki -

This wiki designed and maintained by Jo Kay is packed with information and resources about the use of virtual worlds and education. I use it frequently for finding and sharing information with educators who are new to virtual worlds.

Best educational webinar series: World OT Day -
I know this nomination hasn't got a hope of winning this section because it is a niche interest. However, I am nominating this 24 hour webinar event that was organised by Merrolee Penman and her team as an extremely influential move in the world of health education and professional development. I believe we will see a lot more of these sorts of events.

Lifetime achievement: Stephen Downes -
What can I say about Stephen that hasn't already been said! A great contributor to the world of education.

What are your nominations going to be this year? For more information about how to nominate people, please go to the Edublog Award website.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Tips for an eMentor

I am about to become involved in a project where my colleagues and I will be working with a group of people from India who will be enrolling with our Graduate Certificate Tertiary Learning and Teaching. Initially they are coming to work with us face-to-face, but when they go home, we will be continuing to support them online.

With this project in mind, I have been asked to make a few comments about how to be an eMentor.

I was just about to launch into a long post about this, but then found a couple of posts I wrote about being an eMentor last year: Tips for being an effective eMentor. And here is a reflection about my experiences of being an eMentor: My experience of being an eMentor.

In terms of practical advice, I find Skype to be a brilliant tool for one-to-one mentoring, especially if you both have webcam. Ok...I know face-to-face is preferable for a lot of people, but I have found webcam on Skype to be an extremely effective way to communicating with someone as well as building a relationship. Here is some advice from Coach Carole about using Skype for online facilitation which is equally as relevant for eMentoring. And here are some more tips from the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Do you have tips 0r ideas for anyone who is thinking about being an eMentor?

Image: 'working in free space'

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Gangster City

I had lots of fun last week in Melbourne which I always think of as Gangster City. Why gangsters? Because Melbourne has a very colourful recent history of gangster violence which is depicted in a TV series that I am totally hooked on...Underbelly. And the film Animal Kingdom doesn't add to my impression of Melbourne being a city of love and roses either.

So as much as I adore Melbourne as a city...fabulous market...beautiful kerbside cafes and restaurants...historic trams..I always feel like I should be packing a pistol, ready to draw at any minute. And if you are wearing a smart suit, have greased-back hair and talk with a slightly European accent, I will either rush up to you and ask for your autograph, or run in the opposite direction begging you to leave my knee caps alone.

Russell House teashop horribly unjustified preconceptions aside, I had a fabulous time. As always, the highlight was hanging out with new and old friends. Bronwyn and I had a very peaceful and productive time in the Russell House Teashop, brewing up a plan for world domination. Russell House is the oldest residential house in the Melbourne CBD. I nearly had my aforementioned knees bitten by the resident pekinese dog, but enjoying proper tea (made with tea leaves) in a cafe that felt like it was still living in the 1950s made up for it. To make things even better...we were only charged 30 cents!

Titanic exhibition
The other major thing I did on this trip was to go to the Titanic exhibition at the Melbourne Museum with my midwifery mate, Pam. To be honest, I was a tad disappointed with it. The exhibition was very crowded and we were herded through it very quickly. The artefacts mostly consisted of nails and china which did not carry much human interest for me. My biggest complaint is that I felt the exhibition lightly brushed over the story. I would have liked a lot more information about why the ship sank, the ineptitudes of the people involved and the ensuing investigation. And I think there should be more discussion about the 'rights and wrongs' of removing artefacts from the dive site.

All that aside, I loved the replication of the staircase, as well as the personal stories that were told. The most poignant artefact was a steward's jacket that got me thinking about the staff of the Titanic who had little or no chance of surviving. The other very powerful thing that happens is that everyone going through the exhibition is given a name of a passenger. At the end of the exhibition you are able to see if the person survived. I was a third class, 18 year old Irish girl travelling to New York to become a nun (I can't remember her name) and Pam was a first class, 50 year old woman. Suffice to say, Pam survived the trip...I didn't.

I know this is very "Hollywood", but for me the film Titanic remains the most powerful experience that got me thinking about what the people must have felt and suffered. However, what the exhibition has left me asking is...why after all these years are we still so fascinated by the Titanic story? Any ideas?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A few questions before you launch into implementing ePortfolio at your education institution

I was at the ePortfolio Australia conference last week and chatting to people who are thinking about implementing ePortfolio for student nurses and midwives. Since then I have been reflecting on the pros and cons and have come up with some questions to consider before launching into implementing an ePortfolio system.

1. What are you wanting to achieve?
Does ePortfolio allow you to achieve that aim or would something else be more appropriate? For example, you would like to use an ePortfolio to allow a seamless submission of assignments by you need an ePortfolio to do this, or can you achieve that function via your current learning/student management system?

2. Is what you are wanting to achieve pedagogically sound?
In other words, do you have a sound educational reason for implementing ePortfolio or are you attracted by the technology with all the latest bells and whistles?

3. What is the evidence about ePortfolio in your context?
Is there solid evidence that ePortfolio makes a difference to students' learning or is ePortfolio another fad you are following for the sake of it?

4. What ePortfolio tools best suit your students' needs?
Before you sign off on an expensive propitiatory ePortfolio platform, is there an online tool already available that will better suit your students' needs? For instance, if you want your business students to be prepared to find a job, would they be better off developing a LinkedIn account? Would your carpentry students be better off uploading photos of their work to Flickr? Would a blog suit students' needs for a reflective ePortfolio?

5. Who is in control of the ePortfolio?
If you dictate the ePortfolio to the students they are far less likely to engage with it than if they have total control over it. The ePortfolio must belong totally to the students so it can be developed to meet their needs, as opposed to your needs as lecturer and that of the institution.

6. Will the ePortfolio be integrated into the curriculum?
If the ePortfolio is an extra add-on to the students' work, they are unlikely to engage with it. Thus, you need to consider how you will integrate it into the curriculum and assessment. This may require a lot of work for faculty staff, so you have to decide if this effort is "worth it".

7. How portable will the ePortfolio be?
What will happen to the ePortfolio when the students leave the institution? Portability is one argument for using the cloud such as Google Apps, as opposed to a platform that is restricted to student use only.

8. Can the ePortfolio be integrated into the students' life as a professional once they have left university/college?
This is an especially important question for nurses and midwives who are required to have an ePortfolio as part of their statuary requirements for practice. There's little point in developing an ePortfolio platform that is different from one they will use once they are qualified. On the other hand, is this an opportunity to collaborate with hospitals and professional bodies to ensure there is a seamless integration of ePortfolio from life as a student into professional practice?

9. How will you evaluate the ePortfolio?
You must have a process for measuring the impact of the ePortfolio as opposed to implementing it without further follow up.

10. Do you walk the talk?
Do you have an ePortfolio that models the process to both colleagues and students? How can you know the value of a pedagogical process if you do not engage with it yourself?

Do you have any thoughts or questions you would pass onto people thinking about implementing ePortfolio into the education institution?

ePortfolio resources
Here is a great article by Graham Attwell who articulates much better than me what some issues of ePortfolio are: Re-thinking e-Portfolios

The ePortfolio community of practice can be joined here - for further information, please contact Carole Maculloch.

Elluminate recordings of the key note presentations given at the ePortfolio Australia conference can be found here in a few days.

Image: 'Another view: office on 10th'

Monday, November 8, 2010

The richest midwives in the world

I had a good laugh yesterday.

I read a commentary by David Farrar on the latest report about New Zealand maternity services to the Parliamentary Select Committee. Putting aside David's opinion for one moment...that GPs leaving the maternity services has been a disaster for New Zealand maternity services...I was intrigued to see the accompanying comments.

Midwives' pay
There were some interesting replies and opinions about the current maternity services and midwives...most of which I totally disagree with. I was going to leave things as they were, but I am afraid I could not resist replying to several comments about midwives' pay and the way the maternity services are funded.

Midwife millionaires
According to several readers...the reason the maternity services are in such a pickle (I do not think the maternity services are in a pickle) is because LMC (self-employed) midwives are paid too much...NZ$7000 per case...and they do not refer to obstetricians and secondary maternity services because they lose money.

The reason I laughed was because it is so ridiculous to think midwives are paid $7000 per case. If it were true, I would not be wasting my time writing this blog post...I'd be out there catching babies.

The truth
The truth is that midwives get paid roughly $3000 per case (which depends according to variables like when the woman books with the midwife). Once the midwife has paid all the costs of being self-employed as well as expenses, she clears about $1000. The other point is that midwives do NOT lose funding if they refer to secondary services...there is no financial incentive to stop midwives referring to doctors...secondary services are financed by another fund.

Funding of the New Zealand maternity services
What drives me nuts is people spreading inaccurate information about midwives when clearly they have not researched a topic and do not know what they are talking about.

In this case, all the information about the funding for the maternity services and LMC midwives' pay, referral guidelines and the services midwives are legislated to provide can be found in the Ministry of Health Section 88 Maternity Notice 2007 - it is worth having a look especially if you are pregnant and want to check out exactly what you can expect from your midwife.

Image: 'Dreaming of diamonds'

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Why you need a personal learning network (PLN)

I had great fun last week hanging out, so to speak, with a global community of occupational therapists and supporting my colleague Merrolee Penman with the virtual OT conference.

Different but the same
As a midwife I have never had anything to do with occupational therapists, so it was very interesting going to a few of the sessions and learning what they get up to. Whilst their work is very different to mine as a midwife, we have the same professional issues around professional development, professional identity and networking online. I especially enjoyed the session by Bronnie Thompson in which she talked about her professional blog which focuses on chronic pain - it is an excellent example of a health blog - here is the Elluminate recording of her session.

Sharing and learning together
It has been lovely to see how Merrolee and her team have taken the idea of the Virtual International Day of the Midwife and developed it further. I was very pleased that Merrolee was able to take a lot of the material we developed and re-mashed it for the OTs. At the same time, I will be learning from Merrolee's experiences which I will use next year to improve the VIDM, such as making our websites look a lot more professional and further develop the VIDM brand. It was even nicer to have Merrolee's acknowledgement of my work with the VIDM in our local paper.

As a result of my involvement in the virtual OT day I have made new friends and am learning heaps about a health profession that often slips under the radar. And the icing on the cake is that I have been invited to submit an article to the journal WORK: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment & Rehabilitation.

My presentation
Here is the Elluminate recording of my presentation about why health professionals need a PLN.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Open Education Resources: beyond the rhetoric

Last week I gave an online presentation with my colleague, Bronwyn Hegarty, about our experiences of running open, online courses for the Open Access Week Conference.

Thinking back on my experiences as a student and teacher in open courses, the main thing that dawns on me is that my teaching style has changed - that I am becoming more of a facilitator than a teacher. It's taken me a couple of years to work this one out. And I still haven't got my head around where assessment fits in with this model of facilitation in education. But teaching in an open environment has given me more confidence to be who I am, and not struggle to be the 'expert' - as a facilitator you leave the students to create their own understanding instead of 'telling' them what they should understand and having them rely totally on your interpretation.

Here is the Elluminate recording of our presentation - here is the mp3 recording.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Off to the 2010 ePortfolios Australia conference in Melbourne

I am very excited about going to Melbourne today to attend the 2010 ePortfolios Australia Conference. I will be giving a presentation about my experiences as a health professional having an ePortfolio in the 'cloud'.

To ePortfolio or not to ePortfolio...that is the question?!
Hopefully, it's going to be a very useful conference because there is currently a lot of discussion about how ePortfolios could and should be implemented at Otago Polytechnic. The argument about whether an ePortfolio should be encased in an institution-owned system like Mahara or Pebble Pad continues to rage. So I am looking forward to finding out what people think, and what experiences other educators and researchers have had.

Catching up online friends and colleagues
One of the things I am looking forward to meeting people that I know through my online networks such as Carole McCulloch and Alison Miller. Both women I have met online through networks such as Twitter, so it will be great to see them face-to-face.

I am also really looking forward to meeting Jo-Anne McShane again. Jo-Anne is a nurse in Brisbane who is looking at ePortfolios for her Masters degree. We met briefly earlier in the year and I "encouraged" her to put in an abstract to this conference. It will be my pleasure to facilitate her presentation on Thursday. This very short collaboration came about purely via email and Twitter...another success for online networking.

The joys of Melbourne
Apart from all the professional hob-nobbing I'll be doing, I am also really excited about meeting Pam Harnden again. Pam is another one of my Twitter buddies and used to be one of my post-graduate midwifery students. Pam is taking me to the Titanic exhibition which I am really looking forward to. I'm sure we'll go shopping at Victoria Market and drink lots of beautiful Australian wine...I cannot wait!