Sunday, May 29, 2011

Videos that support reflective teaching practice

One of the projects I have going at the moment is an Ako Aotearoa research project called Mind the gap: Developing a digital repository of resources to support reflective teaching and learning.

This project is a collaborative project with the Ako Aotearoa Southern Hub of staff developers. It came about when we discussed how we individually use video resources to support teaching, but do not tell others what we use, or share our resources. The project is an attempt to rectify this.

The aim are to develop an open, collaborative website that identifies and annotates video resources that can be used to support, guide and enhance teaching in adult learning contexts of Aotearoa/New Zealand. The collaborative approach to this project will serve to further develop a community of practice (CPO) amongst its creators - people interested in improving teaching and learning.

Videos that support teaching and learning
So if you have a video that you use to demonstrate good teaching and learning practice, or you think will stimulate discussion, critique and improve teaching practice, please feel free to either add to the website, or send it/or the link to the video to me.

If you are interested in hearing more about this project, please let me know.

Image: 'Reading Aloud to Children'

Saturday, May 28, 2011

What storage space is reasonable to offer your kids when they leave home?

My two young adult children are leaving home this weekend. They have boomeranged back and forth for the last couple of years, but this time I think (...hope...and pray....) the moves will be more permanent.

But we're going through a lengthy negotiation over how much of their stuff they can leave at home. They want to leave all the rubbish they have accumulated over the last 20 odd years. My response to that they can go and hire a lock-up!

I think I'm down to agreeing they can leave one chest of drawers each! And then, when they're gone, I can have my own office cum study!

What do you think? Am I being mean or too generous by half?!

How to write an article for publication in 6 weeks

I have a number of articles I need to write about the work I have been undertaking over the last 18 months or so. But the snag is, I've got to get as many articles published by the end of the year as I can. This is so I can submit a research portfolio next year for New Zealand's Performance Based Research Funding which is a university/polytechnic process NZ academics go through every six years.

In an attempt to get at least one quality article published this year, I have managed to secure funding to buy the services of Dr Linda Wilson. She is going to work with a small group of us and boot camp us into writing an article in six weeks.

I thought I would put a wiki together and document the process we're going through as a permanent resource for anyone else who wants to do the same thing:

If you'd like to join us virtually, please let me know. In the meantime, if you have any hints, tips or resources that will help us on our publication journey, please feel free to add it to the wiki.

Image: 'Pelikan Desktop'

Thursday, May 19, 2011

How can you be a reflective and researching practitioner in an open, online environment?

I have an essay to write for my EdD (which I've left to the last minute as per usual). Here is the title:

Write an essay discussing the theories and practices of being a reflective and researching practitioner.

In the essay we have to put forward an argument for being a reflective and researching practitioner; discuss how the roles complement each other, or not as the case may be; look at the theories of both roles.

I have decided I want to put a little twist on the essay and look at how you can be a reflective and researching practitioner in the open online environment. I would like to look at how being 'open' can enhance reflection, for example using reflective blogs. At the same time there are reasons why researchers are dissuaded from openly blogging etc because of issues of copyright, tensions around intellectual property and funding when working in a university structure, and problems with publishing in open journals.

I want to look at open reflection and research for two reasons; because this is my own personal practice, and the concept of 'open' teaching and learning will underpin my EdD research, whatever that turns out to be.

I've started looking around for some theories and research that will help me answer the question but haven't come across anything that has got me thinking. So if you know any articles or theories that would help me address this essay question, and/or thoughts about this topic, I'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Plans for Virtual International Day of the Midwife 2012

On Monday the organising committee of the Virtual International Day of the Midwife had their wash-up meeting for 2011. Here are the key points that came out of that meeting.

1. Organisation
We all agreed that we were pretty spot on with the organisation of the day. The only element that had the potential to cause problems was having seperate rooms for each session, but that appeared to work well. The downside of that arrangement was that you couldn't put a computer on in an organisation and leave it going for 24 hours, without having someone to change rooms every hour. The other side to the coin is that this arrangement made it extremely easy to make recordings, which were then published on the website within hours.

2. Attracting wider audience
One of our key challenges is to attract a wider audience next year.
  • We need to think about how we can "bridge the gap" between the event and those who are scared of the technology. We have noticed that we get a far greater response if we support people with the technology in a F2F context.
  • Work more closely with people in a face-to-face context in a mentoring role. One idea is to "adopt an organisation" whereby we work with individual organisations in setting up the technology and making sure they have access to the event on the day.
  • Focus on developing a program that has "star" names, especially the first session ie turn the first session into a keynote presentation.
  • More cherry picking of speakers rather than waiting for people to apply and ending up with "pot luck".
Personally, I feel we have to keep a mix of both approaches. Whilst I accept we need to be focused in our marketing strategies, I would also like to maintain an "unconference" feel to the event, so that we meet the actual needs of the people we serve, not just what we think they need.

3. Building capability
We know VIDM is a viable initiative so we need to think about succession planning and building capability. We had some wonderful support this year from people who are not midwives. Now we need to focus on bringing midwives on board and get them to the same level of technical expertise as the non-midwife facilitators. One suggestion is to hand-pick midwives who we know have an interest in this area and mentor them onto the organising committee and as facilitators. This will help to secure the future for the VIDM, especially past the time when we end our involvement.

4. Allignment with the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM)
One way to ensure our sustainability and get to a wider audience is to consider the possibility of alligning ourselves with the ICM. We would need to write a proposal and make suggestions about how we come under the ICM umbrella. But before we do that, we need to consider the pros and cons, and decide even if we want to do that, or stay completely independent.

5. Publication plan
Another way of advertising the event is to get on and publish our experiences in the midwifery press. We have the results of the feedback to publish, as well as reflections and commentries. We will plan another meeting in the next week to come up with a formal plan about how to do this.

Congratulations to the organising committee for yet another fabulous year - looks like we're on for 2012!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Ghosts in Dunedin

One of the promises I made myself after the Christchurch earthquake was to go on a walking tour around Dunedin, to get to know the place where I live a bit better. So last night I took the family on a ghost tour of Dunedin - I knew the kids wouldn't go on the day time history tour and a ghost tour would be much more likely to interest them.

We had a fabulous time. Andrew from Hair Raiser Tours told us stories that I had never heard before, and took us to all sorts of interesting places that I didn't know existed. I think this is a wonderfully entertaining way to get to know Dunedin...or any other place, for that matter. Andrew did such a good job that we're going to go on the graveyard tour next week.

I do not believe in ghosts but there was one spot where I got quite anxious. And when we finished the tour, my hubby checked his digital watch to see what the time was and it had gone all wierd. This is extremely unusual because it is a very reliable watch. Was it a coincedence....that really all it needed was a new battery, or had it been affected by ghostly vibes? Spooky, eh?!

Image: 'Dunedin Cathedral'

Monday, May 16, 2011

My baby all grown up

This weekend has been pretty hectic, not least because it has been my son's 21 st birthday. He is my baby, so this birthday has been an untimely reminder that I'm not getting any younger. And it was with some sadness that I dug out his baby photos and wished I could go back in time and give that little boy one last cuddle and kiss. He's grown into a lovely man and I am very proud of him. But I miss those days when he'd come and sit on my lap and cuddle up.

Happy birthday, Andrew...may all your dreams come true.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Thinking about the Virtual International Day of the Midwife 2011

The Virtual International Day of the Midwife came and went last week. On the whole I think the day went well, and now I am left with gathering feedback and putting a report together. There are heaps of thoughts buzzing around in my head and I am not sure where to start with my reflections about the day. So here I am dumping down a load of random things which hopefully will emerge into themes in my feedback report.

1. Participants
We had people attend from all over the developed world but I would say the main places were New Zealand, USA and Australia. The average number of seats taken were 50 per session. The highest number was 119 and lowest number was about 38. This was up marginally on last year but there were more highs and lows, whereas last year, we had a more consistent attendance. It is difficult to say exactly how many people attended because I know there were instances of more than one person gathered around one computer.

I would have liked to have seen higher numbers. There was not the incremental increase in numbers this year as there was last year. As I said in a previous post, we have not had half as many followers on our Facebook page as we did have last year. However, when we compare ourselves with major international online educational conferences, this attendance is fabulous.

2. Technology
Elluminate really behaved itself. I know of at least two people who were unable to log in - one of those people, I think, had firewall problems in the hospital where she worked. On the day, four speakers had various problems but were able to get around them in one way or another with the support of their facilitator.

I was reluctent to use seperate rooms because I thought we'd lose people every time we moved. However, this did not seem to be a problem. Having seperate rooms meant I had immediate access to the recordings and had them linked to our website before the end of the day.

3. Organisation
A lot of time went into the organisation of the day by both myself and the organising committee. Some times I do question whether that time is "worth it" especially considering we do this purely for love. However, there have been benefits to the time spent getting things ready beforehand.
  • The website looks a lot better and is easier to navigate thanks to the feedback that was freely given by my Twitter mates Ian Simpson and Sue Hickton
  • All the speakers turned up. I am sure this is because each speaker had a designated facilitator to keep them on track - this included the opportunity to practice with the technology before the day.
  • I became a lot more organised with how I used my email, setting up groups in Gmail - I have no idea why it's taken me so long to sort this out.
  • A time line was set up in Google Docs which helped keep us on track. It was also really helpful to keep notes on a planning page in the VIDM wiki.
  • Another time-saving element was putting information for facilitators and speakers on the wiki - this saved me time cutting and pasting information into individual emails. Having said that, it was apparent that people did not go to the wiki and read the instructions even though they were asked to.
4. Speakers
We had a marvelous array of speakers and topics. I had to turn down three speakers because we had a full program, and I had several people say they would like to present next year. The highlight for me was having non-midwives join us such as Julie Neild (occupational therapist), Sonya Cameron and Dallas Knight (PhD students looking at issues that impact on midwives in one way or another). Next year I'd like to get a few consumers on board.

5. Facilitators
The facilitators were absolutely marvellous and were key to the success of the day, in my opinion. It certainly made my job a lot easier. I was able to relax, and even get some sleep during the night.
  • The facilitators came from my personal learning network (PLN), so were not necessarily midwives, but were experienced online facilitators. I am extremely grateful to them and humbled that they would donate so much of their time to support me and this project. So a big 'thank you' to these guys:
  • Angela Hook, Annette Dalsgaard Vilain, Chris Woodhouse, Clarissa Adriel, Carole McCulloch, Gloria Lemay, Jillian Clarke, Lorraine Mockford, Peter Brook and Sue Hickton.
6. Organising committee
It was fabulous to have a team of people working with me to organise the event. It gave the event a community feel as opposed to me working all by myself. In particular I appreciated having someone take responsibility for the Twitter and Facebook accounts, and have people to bounce ideas around with. So again, grateful thanks to:
  • Deborah Davis, Mary Sidebotham, Lorraine Mockford, Pam Harnden and Chris Woodhouse.
7. Recordings
I have had several requests to turn the recordings into mp3 and mp4 formats so people can download them onto their iphones. But to be honest, I feel a bit stuck. I need a website where I can host large files (approximately 150 mb) and where people can go to download the files. If you have any sugegestions, I'd really like to hear them. I have used in the past but I cannot see how you download files from that website.

8. What about next year?
I am waiting to get full feedback from the organising committee and to review the feedback. However, here are a few thoughts I have about next year.
  • Have to look at how we can become more "mainstream" without losing our autonomy. I would like to discuss how we become better integrated with the International Confederation of Midwives which is our international governing body.
  • May need to look for another organisation to sponsor our web conference platform. My contract with Otago Polytechnic ends this year so I do not know if I'll be able to continue the VIDM work with them. Plus, OP is moving to Adobe Connect so I am not sure how that will fit in with VIDM.
  • We really need to focus on our advertising rather than depending on the event going viral. Any suggestions about how we do that will be gratefully received.
  • I am wondering if we need something like a newsletter to communicate with people in the lead up to next year. But that will take time and committment and may be too much of an ask. What do you think?
9. Succession planning
I have been thinking about how I pass on this event. I promised myself I would work on it for five years unless it was clear that it was not a sustainable event. I think it will continue to grow but I also need to think about how to hand over the reins and who to, when I finish facilitating it in 2013. Any ideas about that?

Once again, a very big thank you to everyone involved; speakers, facilitators and participants - hope to see you (and your friends) again next year.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Will Microsoft wreck Skype?

One of my top five online communication tools is Skype. I use it all the time for online collaboration and keeping in touch with friends. So it is with a little dismay that I have just heard that Microsoft has bought Skype.

I have no idea what effect this will have on the service that Skype provides. I just hope the service stays free and doesn't get embedded in Microsoft in a way that procludes those of us who do not use Microsoft products.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A midwifery web site for pregnant women in Otago, New Zealand

I am very interested to see a new midwifery website that has just gone live - Otago Midwives.

What I think will be particularly useful for pregnant women in the Otago area is that they'll be able to see what midwives have vaccancies when and where. Hopefully this will save women a lot of time and angst when they are first looking for a midwife.

I'm not too keen on the "Polly-Anna" feel to the website and I don't like the font used in the "About" section of the website. But I think it's a fabulous idea and I am sure women in the Dunedin area will find this website a really useful resource.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Unscrupulous people and wiki collaboration

I have been interested to get comments from several people about the way I have used a wiki by Wikispaces to plan and develop the free online conference for midwives on the 5th May 2011; the Virtual International Day of the Midwife (VIDM). There has been concern that the wiki is open to "unscrupulous people" who will "go in and wipe out your content, add content you don't wish to have there, etc."

Why I use a wiki
There are a few reasons I have chosen to use a wiki to develop the Virtual International Day of the Midwife.
  1. The wiki models a process that can be used for collaboration and not only introduces wiki to health professionals, but also the idea of open collaboration and learning.
  2. It allows me to collaborate not only with the VIDM organising committee but also anyone who has an interest in the event.
  3. Open collaboration gives people a sense of community ownership, which hopefully will make the VIDM much more successful.
  4. Saves me time. If people see an error in what I have produced, they can correct the error without involving me.
  5. The process of developing the conference is transparent. This allows people to track what we're doing and why, and learn by our success and failures, as evidenced by the World OT Day in 2010.
  6. The "history" section of the wiki allows me to go back to previous versions which can be very useful if I have forgotten what I did, or how I did it.
How does the wiki work?
I have been using this same wiki for the last four years, and I have had only one incident where unwanted material has been added which I was able to quickly delete. I am able to set the wiki specifications so I am notified every time someone makes changes to a page. I can also track and trace changes via the wiki "history" and revert to previous editions, as well as block unwanted visitors.

If anything, people have been slow to use the wiki. I think this is because they either do not know what a wiki is and how they can make changes, or they feel they do not have the 'right' to change someone else's work.

What are the alternatives?

There are a number of other free platforms that you can use, which are websites and not collaborative spaces. Google Sites is one such place to look at. And of course you can lock up a Wikispaces page so people can see it but not edit it, like I have done with my ePortfolio.

The Virtual International Day of the Midwife is an open, free community event that is designed to share information and resources, and to bring people together. We are not out to make money - we have absolutely no funding. So the whole process of this event is open and
community-focused from the first planning day to the posting of the last recording. I feel that locking the wiki up would interfere with this process.

And as for unscrupulous visitors, the community will deal with them as and when they crop up.

Image: 'One Ring to Rule Them All'