Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Week 2 - Setting the Scene

What I would like to achieve in this course...
I am a lecturer and currently use Blackboard for a blended learning approach. I can see real potential for the use of online teaching tools / resources and I'm keen to develop my knowledge and skills in this area. I am still pondering exactly what and how but here are some tentative ideas for the Masters of Midwifery program that I would like to explore:
  • The use of blogs as part of an online portfolio
  • Conferencing with other students / midwives (long distance)
  • Guest speakers who are not local - presentations, Q&A sessions
In my midwifery life I would like to maintain a blog that is practice focussed and challenges the current mainstream approach to midwifery practice and birth. I have found it quite liberating being able to write about practice without the constraints of writing for publication (journals). It's great to be able to say what you think and not water it down (well maybe a little). I will probably avoid the larger scale politics of birth/midwifery as there are lots of great blogs covering these issues already.


  1. There were two things that cropped up from this post I thought I'd ask you about. In the course you are experiencing very open communication and activities. But BlackBoard is a very closed learning environment. What advantages do you see of teaching in those two very different environments? How will you facilitate' networked learning' in a closed environment?

    My second question is about your online identity. What conflicts do you think there are between wanting to be yourself online and challenging the mainstream approach to midwifery and the professional regulations that govern your practice?

  2. Ooooh Sarah - difficult questions, especially the second one:

    1. Because Blackboard is closed there is a little more 'safety' for participants. For eg. the st mws are using it to blog their learning experiences which are often personal. One shared a traumatic birth story which echoed her own birth and reflected on her reaction. There is more freedom to self disclose and reflect. Of course confidentiality of women and staff involved must be upheld in all posts. They are also using it to share roster planners etc. that would not have relevance outside of the group. For me - I can target my input to a specific group and their learning needs / course outline

    2. Online identity sounds scary! I do struggle with this question. I do sensor myself, but then I do when I'm teaching too. I would not say 'the hospital guideline is crap and you shouldn't follow it'. Instead I encourage the students to critically examine the policy and reach their own conclusions. My approach to teaching is the same as my approach to midwifery - it is not my role to teach people something... it is my role to create an environment where they can learn. This translates to online re. Blackboard.
    In terms of my midwifery blog (ie. the midwife not the educator) if you read my posts I am not specifically saying what I do. Instead I am raising concerns and making suggestions. As an independent midwife I am stuffed anyway re. regulations. I just have to be careful what I write about what I DO ie. not post a blog saying: Yey - I did a homebirth with a VBAC breech today! (I didn't by the way). I am happy to challenge practice that is dubious and to make political statements about the state of midwifery though.

    I think this is a fascinating issue for all professionals who have a 'professional identity' and an 'online identity'. Maybe we should discuss this with the group on one of the conferences? I would love to hear other people's thoughts on the matter.

  3. I think your idea of online idetity is a great one to discuss. Maybe you could facilitate this as a discussion for the mini event...how about an 'expert' panel? Something to think about.

  4. Eeeek Sarah! The thought of facilitating an online discussion is terrifying. I am so used to visual cues and using my hands/body language. I have been described as a 'dead fish' on the phone.