Sunday, June 9, 2013

Third time lucky?

Over 10 years ago I enrolled into a PhD program. Sadly, things didn't work out and eventually I withdrew from the program. After a couple of years of phaffing around, I enrolled into an EdD at Otago University because I felt a more structured approach to my studies would ensure my motivation and completion. However, my move to Australia, and changing jobs from education to industry has made me think that an EdD no longer has relevance to my life. So I have withdrawn from that program.

In the meantime, I have had a very interesting chat with Profs Deborah Davis and Keith Lyons at the University of Canberra. They have suggested that I apply to do a PhD with a thesis by publications. This would entail writing/submitting four papers for publication, and tying them together in a thesis with a literature, introduction and conclusion.

I love this idea because it really is more like a portfolio-approach to a PhD. It will allow me to take all the work I have done over the last six years and bring them together and make sense of the themes, track my learning and growth over the years, and help me work how where to go from here, now that my working context has changed so drastically.

This is my "third time lucky". If I don't get on and complete with this enrolment, then I have to kiss the whole PhD thing goodbye. But I am also a tad embarrassed that I'm still working at it....13 years later!

Does anyone know what the record is for number of enrolments, or time it took to complete a PhD?! I hoping I am not one of the worse!? 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Virtual International Day of the Midwife: Where to from here?

In my last few posts I have been reflecting on the 5th Annual Virtual International Day of the Midwife. In this post I want to take a little time to think about what we still want to achieve.

What objectives have we achieved?
There are a number of objectives that we have articulated over the years which we have achieved, and I am extremely proud of that.
  • Recognition on an international level that this is a credible event, with endorsement by the International Confederation of Midwives.
  • Recognition of the event's credibility by the world's midwifery leaders, with offers from our leading academics, leaders and researchers to be speakers.
  • Have people clamour to be speakers.
  • Build capacity in online facilitators.
  • Have speakers presenting from across the world, resource-poor countries as well as Europe, North America and Australia/New Zealand.
  • Have the VIDM screened/accessed in countries such as PNG that have so little communication and external interaction with the rest of the world.
  • Advance our model of virtual communication and collaboration for midwifery CPD.
  • Advance Open Education Resources (OER) and OER practices in midwifery.
However, there are some other objectives that I feel we have yet to reach.
  • Sessions facilitated and presented by non-English speakers.
  • Break into the Asian market, including China, because we hear so little from Chinese midwives.
  • Make the event more "mobile".
  • Completely fill a 200 seat room.
  • Support an ongoing conversation.
The last two objectives will be achieved in the next year or two. However, I am not sure about the first two, or that it is appropriate to try and achieve them. I am very mindful that we do not meet the needs of non-English speakers, and I have angsted about this on more than one occasion - have a look here at my thoughts on this last year.

Free web-conferencing for resource-poor countries?
What I am starting to think about is making a proposal to someone, probably the ICM, that they buy a license to a virtual room that any midwife can use, something like the model that Steve Hargadon used to facilitate a couple of years ago. There would have to be a virtual booking system, and someone would have to be responsible for keeping an eye of things, as well as finding funding for it. However, I think that it might be a more culturally appropriate way to approach online CPD for resource-poor countries, than trying to make them fit into our model.

Keeping the connections going?
As for our last objective, I am not at all sure how we facilitate the connections to continue talking and sharing. We have our Facebook and Twitter page, and we keep that ticking over during the "down-season", however, I am not sure we have the capacity or desire to keep it going at the same level as we do in the six months of the conference. I have also thought about organizing a regular monthly seminar, but, again, don't have the time or energy to do that. So...any other suggestions gratefully received.

What do you think? What aims and goals do you think we should be continuing to strive toward?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Making practice transparent through e-portfolio

I am delighted that at long last my article about how I use social media and social networking processes to reflect on my practice, and develop my e-portfolio, has been published by the Women and Birth journal:

It took a considerable amount of time to get written, and I am truly grateful to Maxine Alterio for mentoring and supporting me in the processes.

I am especially pleased with this work because a. I managed to write this as a sole author, which has boosted my confidence around my ability to write academic papers, and b. there is very little written (if anything) about how to use social media and social networking for personal reflection and e-portfolio, by practitioners once they are out in practice.

Feel free to have a read - I would love your feedback. How practical, relevant or appropriate do you think it is for health professionals to use social media tools for reflection and e-portfolio?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The latest art exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery: Paris to Monaro. Pleasures from the studio of Hilda Rix Nicholas

Bringing in the sheep c. 1936. Hilda Rix Nicholas oil on canvas Bega Valley Art and Craft Society’s Permanent Collection, Bega Valley Regional Gallery

 I had the pleasure on Thursday, of being invited to the opening night of the latest exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, called: Paris to Monaro, which is an exhibition by a local Australia artist, Hilda Rix Nicolas. Since moving to Canberra last year, several institutions have become my favourite places; the War Memorial is one, and the National Portrait Gallery is another. So, needless to say, I jumped at the opportunity to attend an opening night of the latest exhibition.

 At this point I have to admit that I am not an art critic. I know nothing about brush stokes, quality of light, and I certainty cannot tell you what the Impressionist movement is! I can barely draw a straight line, although I did win first prize in a painting competition when I was five, at the village fete in Somerset, and won five shillings. However, the event was marred considerably by the fact my parents made me give both of my sisters a shilling each!  So, as far as art goes, I know what I like, and what I don't like, but that is about it.

The opening night of the Hilda Rix Nicholas exhibition got off to a mixed start. I really enjoyed my free glass of bubbles, and was very pleased to actually get to see Robyn Archer in person - I haven't been in Australia very long but I know enough to know that Robyn Archer is famous here - and she opened the exhibition. We were told that there were a number of ambassadors attending, so I had great fun trying to work out who was an ambassador, and what country he/she represented. But, on the down side, my daughter, who had arranged to meet me, turned up with blood pouring all over the place- she had fallen over in the dark and had a really nasty cut on her arm. However, a very nice security officer got out her first aid box and patched Ellen up.

The exhibition is lovely because it captures the imagination on a number of levels, and is definitely worth visiting. Hilda Rix Nicholas is a fascinating woman in her own right.  She was born in Ballarat in 1884, travelled widely overseas between 1907 and 1926, studying and painting in England and France. The story goes that Major George Matson Nicholas, D.S.O., from Melbourne, found and admired her abandoned paintings in France. They met and married, but tragically he was killed in France, in the First World War, only a few months later.

Eventually, Hilda came to Canberra to paint and married Edgar Percy Wright, a grazier, and went to live at Knockalong station, Delegate, in the broad, bleached landscape of the Monaro, New South Wales. Her son Barrie Rix was born when she was 46. She was an extremely successful artist who was not part of any group, movement or set; her art is not assigned to any ‘school’. She is an anomaly amongst Australian women artists of the first half of the twentieth century; combining an artist’s dedication, ambition and relentless self-promotion with a full life as a partner in a grazing and wool enterprise, and utter devotion to the physical, intellectual and aesthetic development of her son. Hilda died in1961.

Ellen and I really enjoyed the exhibition. Ellen particularly connected with the Australian landscapes. She felt the realness of them - the colours and details made her as if she was part of the paintings. I was more drawn to Hilda's charcoal drawings; of the brothers of her husband, and of her son, who she clearly adored. They seemed a lot more authentic to me, compared to the idealised landscapes. However, what this does demonstrate is this exhibition speaks to different people in different ways. If you go, let me know how Hilda's art spoke to you.

Paris to Monaro: pleasures from the studio of Hilda Rix Nicholas is open now, until the 11th August 2013

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Virtual International Day of the Midwife 2013 - What can we do better?

In my last blog post I talked about some of the highlights of the Virtual International Day of the Midwife, and what I feel we do well. In this post I want to reflect a little more on what we could do better.

Better organisaton?
I think we have our management processes pretty much sorted, especially thanks to our new email system and domain. However, we are not as responsive as I think we should be in the last two or three weeks. This was a challenge for me at times in the run up to the conference because I didn't feel fully updated with progress of facilitator and speaker organisation. This puts the event at risk because if we don't know what was going on, we cannot take action to put things right if they were turning to custard.

(Mind you, I have to admit that I am a control freak and I go into manic/panic mode in the couple of weeks running up to the conference. The VIDM is my life for those two weeks - I live, sleep, breathe the VIDM. I recognise that I have to let go of this, and trust in the process, and trust in the wonderful people that I work with on the organizing committee.)

Eventually, we got ourselves sorted with a shared tracking document which we maintained in Google Docs. To overcome this problem next year, I suggest that:
  • we develop an extensive time line with jobs and have that ready to go, right from day one of our organisation;
  • we integrate the time line into a shared tracking document;
  • we aim to start organisation in December, rather than leaving it until January/February;
  • we start the process of matching facilitators and speakers at least 1 week earlier, and have strictly enforced time lines for what facilitators/speakers should do.
A little more structure to master facilitation
The master facilitators are amazing people who donate a lot of their time to make sure the event runs well on the day. There isn't really much more I would do different except to suggest that we are more proactive about having a "spare" presentation/speaker available in every time zone, just in case some one drops out at the very last minute, or we have technical difficulties.

On the whole everyone did a fantastic job. But there were one or two facilitators and speakers who either found they had committed to something that was too advanced for them, or they didn't quite realise how stressful it is for us when they did not stick to time lines, like send in their presentations to be prepared in the virtual room.

One thing I am going to suggest for next year is that if we have any doubt about people's commitment or ability, especially as facilitators,  that we ask them to attend as a participant in the first year to get an idea of how everything works, before we accept them as facilitators in the following year. We do need to build capacity in facilitators but at the same time, we also want facilitators who can do a professional job. It is very stressful to the master facilitators if the facilitator don't do their job well, before or during the conference. Another idea may be to do a virtual teaching session or two, on how to be a good facilitator, a few weeks/months before the event.

24 hour social media coverage
Another thing I think we need to improve is our social media coverage, making sure that there is someone at the back end of our Facebook and Twitter accounts throughout the 24 hours. This will be especially useful when it comes to answering real-time questions and posting up photos of participants.

Did you attend the Virtual International Day of the Midwife this year? What do you think we could do better?