Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sustainability of the Virtual Birth Unit in Second Life

Deborah Davis and I are writing an article that focuses on the sustainability of midwifery teaching initiatives in Second Life and we hoped that we could have a chat with anyone who has heard about the SLENZ virtual birth unit. We are interested in anyone who has visited or used the Birth Unit (even if you used it to inform the development of your own).

We have put a couple of questions together but we would love to chat in Skype or by phone with you if possible.

1. How did you find out about “Te Wahi Whanau”, the virtual birth unit on the island of Kowhai?
2. What is your interest in VBUs such as this?
3. Do you/did you use this particular VBU (or any aspects of it)?
4. How do/did you use this VBU? What aspects of the VBU do /did you use?
5. What are your experiences of using the VBU?
6. Did you make a copy the VBU?
7. If so, for what purpose?
8. Do you know of anyone else who might be using this VBU that we could contact?

Please let me know if you have any feedback for us.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"Sarah Stewart" is about to become a rugby blog!

Well, we're on the final countdown to the World Rugby Cup in New Zealand, so there is a very high chance that all you'll hear from me in September is rugby commentary.

We're particularly excited in Dunedin because we have a new stadium and a juicy match-up between England and Argentina. I have my tickets and will be stalking Jonny Wilkinson.

I'm afraid to admit I'll be cheering for England. But saints preserve us if the All Blacks lose....

Image: 'Airship'

Sunday, August 28, 2011

How to write a paper in six weeks: Week 6

Here is the last week of the 'How to write a paper in six weeks' series - you can check out the whole process in the wiki:

By now your article should be nearly ready to submit.

Make sure:
  • you follow all the requirements of the journal;
  • you have included all the references and they are written using the correct reference style;
  • you submit the article in the form required by the publishers.
Now it's time to think what you'll do once you have submitted the article.

There is no hard and fast rule about how long a journal will take to respond to you, so you just have to sit tight and wait to hear from them. Some journals have a quick turn around time and other journals can take over a year from receiving your article to getting it published. You do have to wait until you have heard back from the journal before you can submit else where - it is bad practice to submit an article to more than one journal at the same time.

You can expect one of three responses, so it is worth having a back-up plan so you can deal to any of the responses when they arrive.
  1. An outright rejection. Do not be disheartened by this. It is worth having a re-think and submit to another journal.
  2. Accepted if you make changes. This is a positive outcome and should be followed up. A lot of people do not re-submit because they get disheartened. If this is the case with you, ask a critical friend to take an objective look at your article and help you respond to feedback.
  3. Outright acceptance. If this is the case...congratulations. Even the most experienced writers cannot guarantee that their articles will be accepted at first try.
Hopefully you have enjoyed this publication boot camp and have been successful in writing and submitting your article. If you have found this process and the wiki useful, please let me know.

Image: ''

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Mind mapping my EdD

I'm still struggling to focus on a topic for my EdD research. My thoughts are all over the place...apparently, I am a flighty....or so I have been told.

I don't know why but as I'm getting older, I am needing to visualize my work more, as opposed to just relying on text. So here's a MindMeister mind map helping me work out what are the main issues I face as a midwifery educator...issues that may spark a question for my research.

If you're looking for a mind map tool, I would certainly recommend MindMeister. What I especially like about it is you can download your mind map as a text file, pdf or even image as well as embed it in a blog or website. The only snag is the free version only allows you to have three mindmaps on the go at any one time.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Very excited about Griffith University's take on ePortfolio

Over the last few weeks I have been working with the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Griffith University to nut out how we're going to approach the whole issue of ePortfolio ie do our students need one; how will it look if we introduce the concept; how will it be used?

Because of my interest in this area, I have also been co-opted onto a Griffith University working party who are looking at the issue of ePortfolio at an institutional level. I have been extremely pleased (and some what surprised) to hear their views on ePortfolio, and that they are more than willing to support 'cloud' options to ePortfolio as opposed to buying into a preparatory ePortfolio platform. What is more exciting is there is a real understanding of the issues around ePortfolio - that it has to be student-led, portable, and focused on learning outcomes as opposed to bells and whistles.

There is still a lot of work to do, but we're starting to come up with a model for the midwifery program. In the first two years, we'll use the processes we already have set up which are more about an e-repository than anything else. In the third year we'll move students into thinking about developing a professional ePortfolio. That is likely to be something like Google Apps, integrating Google Documents into Google Sites...or something similar. This will be integrated into the students' third year clinical and professional practice courses. This will leave them ready to move into professional practice as midwives.

We still have work to do, not least on issues of privacy and security. I also think we can do more with the reflective practice aspect of the midwifery program and integrate that better into the curriculum, ePortfolio and graduate profile. But this approach feels so much better to me than imposing institution-led platforms on students that leave them with no sense of ownership and cannot take with them when they graduate.

Image: 'Raindrops and sunlight'

Friday, August 5, 2011

Social media and research

Every six years in New Zealand, academics go through a process of collecting evidence about their research and submitting it to the Ministry of Education. They are given a score according to various criteria and their institution is funded according to the score - obviously the higher the score, the more funding the university gets. This process is called PBRF - there are similar processes all around the world.

As an academic, I have to try and score as many brownie points as possible based on my research publications, my contribution to the research environment and peer other words, what others think of my research. This process is very much wrapped around highly regarded research journals...and all the other stuff that comes with academia like... if you've been invited to speak at a conference...had your research cited in another journal article...been asked to give an expert consultation...etc.

This process does leave me asking...what is "quality" research? Actually, to go back one step, what is research? And, what is publication?

This has taken me to ask where social media sits in this process. Can I count a blog post as a "publication"? Is evidence of peer esteem the number of re-tweets I get on Twitter, or the number of "likes" I have on Facebook. Can I use the number of hits and subscribers I get to this blog as evidence of my contribution to the research environment?

Let me tell you a story which illustrates what I am trying to get my head around.

A couple of weeks ago I put a PowerPoint presentation together about the use of social media and the effects it has on the digital identity of babies and young children. I had to do some reading around the topic, analyze the results of research and come up with a conclusion - in other words, this was a research activity. I "published" the presentation on Slideshare.

In two weeks it has had nearly 4,500 hits, been "favourited" 9 times, has been embedded elsewhere 10 times, and been downloaded 70 times. It was so popular it was featured on the front of the Slideshare website for a week. So in terms of research and how it is esteemed, this fits the bill.

But the snag is...Slideshare is not a "reputable" research journal or forum and isn't formally peer-reviewed by "credible" research academics. There will be many that say it does not belong in a PBRF portfolio.

I don't think the PBRF process has been tested yet by social media. And I am not sure how brave I am and whether I want to be a test case, especially if it means I get a lower score as an outcome.

I'd love to hear from anyone who works in academia or is a researcher and faced with a similar dilemma, especially if you work in other countries with similar processes to PBRF. Is now the time to challenge the accepted perception of what research is, or are those of us who use web 2.0 research methodologies a little ahead of our time?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A sort of reply from the Prime Minister of New Zealand

A few weeks ago I wrote to John Key about the apprenticeship system in New Zealand and the concerns I have about the way young men (and women) are exploited, especially in relationship to the re-building of Christchurch. To be honest, I didn't expect to get an answer. So I was very pleased to get this "sort of" reply from the PM's office:

On behalf of the Prime Minister, Rt Hon John Key, I acknowledge your email. Please be assured that your comments have been noted. As the issue you have raised falls within the portfolio responsibility of the Minister for Tertiary Education, Hon Steven Joyce, your email has been forwarded to his office for consideration. Thank you for writing. Regards

Edward Watson
Correspondence Assistant
Office of the Prime Minister

I now look forward to hearing from Mr Joyce.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Midwives using social media to get political

I have been watching how midwives use social media since 2007, and seeing an increasing uptake by professional organizations of websites such as YouTube and Facebook. But as I am always saying, it's not what you use but how you use it.

The Royal College of Midwives in the UK are utilizing YouTube to get their message out about the state of midwifery in a local and global context, urging everyone to work together to promote midwifery. Their latest video release is an animated video which has a short, concise message without being sickly sweet. It is well worth watching because it has messages for us all - women, midwives, doctors, hospital managers and policy makers.

It will be interesting to see how effective the RCM finds posting this video on YouTube is to get their political message across.