Sunday, January 31, 2010

What are your top midwifery blogs, websites and online resources?

I have been asked by Bertalan Mesko to come up with five or six top midwifery online resources for his website, Keeping in mind that my context is English-speaking and Australasian, here are my suggestions.

Midwifery Peer-Reviewed Journals
Open, free journals that may be of interest to midwives - most are peer-reviewed
A full list of open eJournals for midwives can be found here.

Midwifery Blogs
News sites
Twitter users, Youtube and SlideShare channels

These are just a few suggestions from me. What online midwifery resources would you recommend? I am especially interested in non-English speaking resources.

What the disaster in Haiti teaches us about the importance of open education resources

The earthquake disaster in Haiti has emphasized the importance of midwives and midwifery educators making their educational resources available to all in open, online and digital formats.

Midwifery education in Haiti
The school of nursing and midwifery has been hit very hard in Haiti. A large class of nursing students and a very influential midwifery educator has been killed. And education resources have been destroyed. The mortality and morbidity rates in Haiti are extremely high so it is imperative that midwifery and nursing education gets up on it feet as soon as possible.

Digital teaching materials
A request has gone out from Patti Abbott (, the moderator of the GANM (Global Alliance for Nursing and Midwifery) email list, asking midwifery educators to send digital teaching materials to her so she can forward them to midwifery educators in Haiti. Aid workers do not have room in luggage for textbooks and paper resources - digital resources are far easier to transport.

Open Midwifery Education Resources
When I think of all the videos, PowerPoint presentations, quizzes, learning activities, articles, text books etc that are generated all over the world for midwifery students, I feel that it is a real shame that the Haitian midwifery educators can not find all they need somewhere on the Internet.

My challenge to you
So next time you give a presentation, make a video, develop a learning resource..... have a think about how you can share it online, in a digital format, so it can be re-used by midwifery (or any profession) educators in places in need.

Image: girls at camp petionville Inside Disaster

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Being a locum midwife

Last year I spent a month being a rural midwifery locum. Now that I am reflecting on this experience for my Midwifery Standards Review, I am left with a couple of thoughts.

What skills a locum midwife requires
If you want to be a locum, you MUST be adaptable, willing to think quickly on your feet, confident, a good communicator, self-organised and autonomous. I would also add "experienced" to that list because if you do not have a rounded midwifery experience, it can be difficult to adapt to the ever-changing situations you find yourself in as a locum. You need to be able to build rapport very quickly with the people you work with - it's no good feeling shy - you've got to be prepared to get stuck in very quickly.

What I learned from being a locum
There were four main things that struck me about being a locum.
  1. It is really important you know what to do when there is an emergency..who to call....where the emergency equipment is...what the emergency policies are. It didn't matter to me if I got a 'routine' thing wrong because that could be sorted another time. But it was vital that I could handle an emergency eg I knew how the resuscitation equipment worked and who to call in the secondary hospital if I needed medical advice or back-up.
  2. I practiced in a far more conservative way than I would if I was working with women I knew well. There were two particular cases when I noticed that about my behavior. The first instance was when I transferred a baby to the secondary hospital. If I had been on my own turf I would have monitored the baby overnight, but because I was new to the staff etc, I transferred the baby. The other example was when I drove a very long distance to check on a lady who couldn't get to me. I knew it was probably a waste of time, but I didn't want to take the chance that something was amiss. If I had known the woman, I am sure I would have told her to come and see me when she could in the next couple of days.
  3. The locum does not have the same relationship with a woman as her regular midwife. This was brought home to me because a woman complained that I did not write her notes in the same lovely personal way that her previous midwife had done. To be fair to me, it would have been difficult to write in the same way as a midwife who had known her for months. But it is something I have taken on board for next time - to be more friendly and less clinical in my writing.
  4. It is really important to have a detailed briefing session and get organized before you start work. This reduces the necessity for having to go back to people with questions very five minutes.
What I will do next time
  1. Have a pre-arranged list of questions so I am better prepared eg where policies are kept, emergency procedures, who to ask for help.....
  2. Take time to organize myself how I like to be organized before I start work eg take my own equipment that I am familiar with?
  3. Things are more likely to go awry because I am not so familiar with things, so will pay particular attention to documentation to ensure I have well and truly explained my actions and justification.
Have you ever been in a similar situation where you have worked as a locum or casual member of staff? What advice would you pass onto anyone thinking of working in a similar way?

Image: View from the antenatal clinic at Te Anau

Monday, January 25, 2010

Preparing for my Midwifery Standards Review: a working midwifery ePortfolio

In order for me to practice as a midwife in New Zealand, I have to have an Annual Practicing Certificate (APC). To keep my APC, I must have a Review of my practice, much like an audit, every two years. This involves reflection on my practice, commenting on my statistics, measuring my practice against the New Zealand College of Midwives' ten standards of practice, reflecting on consumer feedback and developing a professional development plan for the next year. I have to write this up, present it to my Review Committee and discuss any issues that crop up.

Review or no review?
To cut a long story short, even though I do not want to be a clinical midwife any more, I also do not want to give up my APC. My current contract ends at the end of the year, so it is useful to be able to go back to midwifery if I cannot find other employment. Also, I'll need it if I want to do any midwifery consultancy or teaching in Australia. It is easier to keep it, than go through a refresher process if I give it up. And as it's been quite a while since I had a Review, I have to get it done by the end of February, or I'll be in danger of losing my APC.

Midwifery ePortfolio
Over the next few days I'll be talking about my midwifery practice. These blog posts will then be integrated into my ePortfolio. What I hope to do is present my ePortfolio to the Review Committee as opposed to a paper file.

There are a few issues I will have to sort out, such as how to present confidential client information.

Any thoughts on how to do that?

Image: 'It's a GIRL!!!' christyscherrer

Saturday, January 23, 2010

What should I do now?

Now that I have officially withdrawn from my PhD, I am left wondering what I should do next for professional development and career progression.

Once more to the breach?
On the one hand, I am tempted to start again with my PhD and enroll into another program, maybe a doctorate ...but this time making sure I am fully supported and am completely happy with my topic and methodology. Or maybe I could do a PhD by publication.

I am conscious that at my age, time is running out and I do feel the PhD is unfinished business. I am concerned that my professional credibility will suffer if I do not have a PhD. Even people like Leigh Blackall, who always said he wouldn't do it has changed his mind.

Is a PhD necessary for my career?
At the same time, my career direction has changed over the last few years. I am not planning on being a professor, but am moving into more short term project and consultation work. At the same time, I am keeping a foot in the academic camp. So I am wondering if a Master of Education might be a better fit with my new job as educational facilitator/programmer. On the other hand, I already have a MA (Midwifery) so what's the point in having another Masters degree.

I would love to hear your thoughts - how necessary is a PhD? What might better fit my context? Any suggestions on what I should do next?

Image: 'question mark ?' Leo Reynolds

PhD Dropout

After over a year of talking to myself and burying my head in the sand I have withdrawn from my PhD at the University of Queensland. This isn't a decision I have taken lightly but it is one that I feel comfortable about now that it is made.

Making the decision
A number of factors influenced my decision including difficulties of being a distance student; a project that failed spectacularly for various reasons; a miss-match of methodology to topic; a lack of knowledge on my part when I started out; a miss-match of supervisor and department within the university. And other factors.

Having said that, the last few years have not been a waste of time. A number of research outputs have resulted from the work I did.

I was commissioned and funded by New Zealand College Of Midwives in 2004/2005 to carry out a national survey of midwives to find out their experiences and thoughts of mentoring. The resulting report has been used extensively to inform the NZCOM and NZ Ministry of Health national mentoring framework for midwives.
  • Stewart, S. & Wootton, R. 2005. Mentoring and New Zealand midwives: a survey of mentoring practice amongst registered midwives who are members of the New Zealand College of Midwives. NZCOM: Christchurch.
I have also published several articles about the eMentoring project.
  • Stewart, S. Computer‐Mediated Social Networking for Mentoring of Health Professionals. Computer-mediated social networking. Eds: Maryam Purvis and Bastion Tony Roy Savarimuthu. Springer-Verlag: Berlin.
  • Stewart, S. (2008). CMC and mentoring in the health professions. Handbook of Research on Computer Mediated Communication. Eds: Sigrid Kelsey & Kirk St. Amont. Publisher: Idea Group Reference.
  • Caffery, L; Stewart, S; Smith, A. (2007). An analysis of the security and privacy of email messages used in e-mentoring. Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare, Vol. 13, Supp. 3, Dec. 2007 , pp. 24-26(3)
  • Stewart, S. & McLoughlin, C. (2007). Design features of an e-mentoring system for the health professionals: Choosing to learn in partnership. In ICT:Providing choices for learners and learning. Proceedings ascilite Singapore 2007.
  • Stewart, S. (2006). A pilot study of email in an e-mentoring relationship. Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare, 12, (3): 83-85.
  • Stewart, S & Wootton, R. (2005). The practice and potential of e-mentoring for New Zealand midwives. Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare, 11(Suppl. 2). S2: 90–92.
I have presented at a number of conferences and the eMentoring project I carried out with Aged Care Queensland last year came about because of my work.

What I have learned during this time
I have learned that my interests, skills and expertise lie across health education, professional development and informal learning, not clinical practice. Now that my career has changed direction from undergraduate midwifery education into education and consulting, I feel I need to focus my research and personal learning on how to teach and learn....specializing in open education, eLearning, informal and life-long learning.

What I have learned about doing a PhD is coming up in my next blog post.

As to what I do next...who knows...any suggestions?

Image: 'It is a Wonderful World' ecstaticist

What I have learned about doing a PhD

Even though I have just dropped out of my PhD after some years, I have learned a few lessons that I'd like to pass on to anyone thinking about doing a PhD.

Why a PhD?
Think carefully about why you want to do a PhD - are you doing it for the right reasons? Is it an appropriate and relevant thing to do for your career or professional development, or would you be better off doing some other sort of study or project?

Be very careful in your choice of supervisor. Is he/she going to support you in the way you need? Has he got the appropriate topic knowledge and research experience? Does he understand what you want to achieve? Will he challenge and stretch you in a supportive way? Can he teach you? Will he give you feedback in a reasonable time frame, or is he too busy doing other things? What is his experience of being a supervisor? Is he looking out for your interests or his own? If your supervisor has deficits in some of these areas, choose a secondary supervisor or mentor who will make them up in other ways.

University support
Make sure you know what student support your university provides. Make sure you understand what processes and resources are in place to support you, especially if things do not work out as well as you would like.

Follow your instincts. Don't be pushed into doing things or following topics that do not feel right to you.

Do as much preparation as you can before you enroll such as your literature search and proposal development - this will go some way to saving you fees.

Get plenty of support from friends, colleagues and topic experts.

If you are doing or have a PhD, what tips would you pass on to potential candidates?

Image: 'Blizard Building lecture theatre' Squirmelia

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Kill or cure? BBC World News broadcast film on health worker shortages

This video is part of a BBC World News documentary about the struggles of health workers in developing and developed countries. It emphasises the problems caused by the global shortages of health workers.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My year 2009 in SlideShare

One of my top places to go for information and inspiration is SlideShare, which is a site where you can upload your PowerPoint presentations - works in the same way as YouTube does for videos. When I can, I upload all my PowerPoint presentations to SlideShare. This allows me to share information with people as well as get feedback on my work.

Last year I uploaded 11 presentations. I got 6345 views, with an average of 576.82 views per presentation. Eight shows became someone's "favorites", and my account has 20 followers. When you think that one presentation may only be seen by about 30 people at a moderate size conference, this is an effective way of getting your message heard.

This is my most popular slideshow with 1263 views, four favorites and 12 comments:

Do you use SlideShare to seek information and share presentations? What is your favorite presentation? What is your most popular presentation with others?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Six things Twitter has done for me in the last year

I am giving a talk about the joys of Twitter in three weeks time as part of a professional development day for the staff of Otago Polytechnic. As part of my preparation, I thought I'd reflect on how I have been using Twitter, and the benefits I have found over the last twelve month. So here's six (random) examples of how I have used Twitter.

1. Personal and social support whilst living in Australia
I received a tremendous amount of personal, social support when I was living in Brisbane for six months away from my family in New Zealand. I felt very alone and homesick at time, but the conversation, advice and good humor provided by my Twitter friends kept me going. An added bonus was that I was able to meet a number of these wonderful people face-to-face during my time in Australia.

2. Development and facilitation of the Virtual International Day of the Midwife
One of my ongoing projects is the Virtual International Day of the Midwife which I facilitated last year and have just started the planning for this year. Twitter allowed (is allowing) me to get instant feedback and advice while I was planning details, and disseminate information about the activities. The other thing it allowed me to do was instantly access people with the ability to help me solve technical problems. In particular, I had some problems with the virtual classroom we were using, and was unable to access the support staff at the weekend. Via Twitter, I was able to get instant hold of Jo and Phil Hart who worked virtually with me to solve my technical a drop of a hat. I would have been very hard pushed to have found that sort of instant help, at the weekend, in other environments.

3. Invitations to speak at workshops and carry out research
I use Twitter to tell people about my academic work. As a result of my conversations, I have been asked to speak at several workshops and study days including the Edna workshop in Brisbane last year, where I talked to teachers about using social media in education. I have also be invited to join a collaborative, international research project which I am currently working on.

4. Development of a social and professional network in Dunedin, the place where I live
You wouldn't think I would need help to make friends in the place where I live, would you? The irony is that I developed a social network of friends and contacts in Dunedin while I was living in Brisbane last year. This social networking on Twitter has led to a number of face-to-face meetings and social gatherings in Dunedin since I came home. I have a far stronger feeling of belonging to Dunedin than I ever had before Twitter. This local networking has also opened doors to professional contacts that will be useful to me in my new job at the Otago Polytechnic Educational Development Centre.

5. Help with the Second Life virtual birthing unit
My other big project last year was the development of the Second Life virtual birthing unit. Twitter allowed me to connect with people who were Second Life experts; network with people who were doing similar work; disseminate information about the project, and ask for advice and feedback as we went along. For example, I used Twitter to get people's thoughts on what was important about environment when giving birth - the answers were then incorporated into the design of the virtual birth unit.

6. Gardening advice
My current hobby is developing my little urban garden. Most of the web sites I have found have been about gardening in the northern hemisphere. So it has been really helpful to be able to get information and advice about gardening that is specific to New Zealand and Dunedin. In particular, I have been able to get consolation from my gardening network about the effect of the terrible summer weather we have been having on my veggies :(

Do you have a Twitter account and use it regularly? How do you use Twitter? What do you feel are the benefits?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Virtual International Day of the Midwife on Facebook and Twitter

I have decided to put my money where my mouth is this year and use Twitter and Facebook to promote the 24 Hour Virtual International Day of the Midwife event on May 5. It will be interesting to see how much conversation and collaboration comes to fruition via these two social media platforms.

The information about our Twitter account can be found on this page:

To talk to us you need to use @IDM2010. Any time you talk about us, use the hash tag (label) #IDM2010. This allows everyone to follow the conversation about the 2010Virtual IDM here.

Pam Harnden has kindly agreed to help me moderate this account - Pam is known as @SmilingPamela. And I am @SarahStewart on Twitter.

For more information about how to join and use Twitter, go to The Twitter Guidebook. And here are a few of my thoughts about how to use Twitter for teaching and learning, as well as how to know who to follow on Twitter.

The Virtual IDM Facebook page is here:
The Virtual International Day of the Midwife May 5 2010

Feel free to become a fan, leave messages or add any videos or pictures. Once the program for the day has been finalized we will post it on the Facebook page.

Why use all these tools?
To people who are unused to social media, having so many different pages and forums may feel confusing and may even appear to be information overload. But to reach as many people as possible, I feel it is important to use varied online communication channels. It is then up to you to use whichever communication forum you feel most comfortable with to receive information about the Virtual IDM and communicate with the organizers.

Communication and collaboration
My other reason for using these various channels is it allows me to communicate and collaborate with a broad spectrum of people in the planning and facilitation of this event. Already I have used Twitter, Flickr and this blog to develop the event logo - I could never designed and developed the logo by myself.

Research project
Finally, the permanent record left in these places will allow me to track the development and facilitation of this event so I can turn my experiences into a case study for publication. Hopefully, this case study will act as a framework for other midwives and educators who are organizing events and conferences.

Have you used social media to organise events? What do you feel are the advantages and disadvantages?

Introducing the logo for the Virtual Day of the Midwife 5 May 2010

What can I say....huge thanks to Jean Jacoby for designing the logo for this year's Virtual International Day of the Midwife on May 5th.

The logo has been published under a Creative Commons By licence which means you are more than welcome to use it for your advertising - you can download it from Flickr.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A new job taking me back to my midwifery roots

After shaking the dust of an undergraduate midwifery program off my shoes exactly two years and swearing I would never teach midwifery again, I am still a little bemused as I tell you that I have taken a new job, teaching in the midwifery program at Griffith University in Brisbane.

In 2011 I am going to be working at Griffith at 0.5 fte and continuing at my current job at Otago Polytechnic as an educational developer 0.5 fte.

How it is going to work is I am going to be a "virtual" faculty staff member which means I will do all my teaching online, and also continue my online development and research work such as the Virtual International Day of the Midwife. I will go to Brisbane at least three times a year for face-to-face work with students and staff....which will be no hardship, I can tell you. This job will give me an entrée into Australia and a university career structure, yet give me the freedom to continue to develop in the areas I am interested in, such as ePortfolio and open education. On the other hand, Griffith gets a very experienced midwife and midwifery educator, a teacher with eLearning and instructional design experience, as well as a staff win-win all around.

At the same time, I am extremely grateful that my boss at Otago Polytechnic, Terry Marler, is prepared to be flexible with me, and keep me on to teach my great passion "Facilitating Online" and continue growing my staff development skills.

So I get my cake and eat in Dunedin...hang out with the wonderful team at EDC, Otago Polytechnic...have regular visits to Brisbane... and hang out with a midwifery team who are innovative and really keen to push the boundaries in midwifery education.

What more could a girl want?!

Image: 'Griffith University - Queensland Conservatorium'

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Please vote for logo for 24 Hour Virtual International Day of the Midwife

It's taken me all day but I have come up with seven possibilities for a logo for the 24 Hour Virtual International Day of the Midwife event. It's going to cost me just under $40 but I think it will be worth having a decent logo for advertising, and for people to use as a badge for their blogs etc. I have kept it generic so it can be re-used...but then again, that may not be such a good may be better to have a different logo each year...what do you think?

I do not have an artistic bone in my body so would really appreciate your feedback on the choices, so please feel free to take this short Doodle poll indicating your preferred choice.

10/1/2010 Update
Three more logos have been designed for me by Jean Jacoby (thank you soooo much Jean!). You can see them here on my Flickr stream as options 8, 9, and 10. I have closed the Doodle poll because I am going to go with one of these three latest logos - I think they depict the event more accurately and they won't cost me anything.

So have a look, leave a comment about which you prefer: I'd love feedback on colour and wording as well as design. Thank you :)

Needing help to design a logo for the 24 Hour Virtual International Day of the Midwife 2010

I've decided I need a snazzy logo to help me advertise the 2010 24 Hour Virtual International Day of the Midwife - a logo that can also be a badge for people to insert into their blogs, websites etc. I haven't got any funding at the moment, so I either get on and make one myself or see if I can find someone to do it for me - for free.

So what I'd appreciate help with is some ideas about how the logo should look - I have about as much creative ability as a cold, wet teabag. And, I'd appreciate any information about how to make the logo and turn it into an html badge for people to use online.

If you would like to sponsor the this international, non-profit event by designing a logo, please feel free to contact me...any offers gratefully received.

Image: 'untitled' Sir Fish

Friday, January 8, 2010

Working out the difference between teaching and facilitation

This is my second post about my involvement with the online course 'Facilitating Online' delivered by Otago Polytechnic. In my post '"Facilitating Online" 2009: Evaluation' I have talked about the students' feedback and the changes I recommend the course for the future. In this post I want to reflect on my own personal experiences of being a facilitator and teacher in this course.

Separating facilitation and assessing
I was first asked by Leigh Blackall to facilitate this course back in July 2009. The idea was for me to facilitate and he would carry out the more formal 'teacher' tasks ie marking assessment. This separating of roles was an attempt to manage the tension that arises between being a teacher and facilitator. Leigh has felt for some time that it is better to separate the roles and to see what happens when the person who has the power of marking assessment is different to the person who is guiding students' way to learning. To find out more about Leigh's thoughts on this topic, please go to his post "To facilitate or teach".

What is a facilitator?
As the course facilitator it was my role to make sure everything was organised - people knew what they were doing and had access to all the information and resources. It was my job to organise the live online sessions and keep up the course blog with posts that summarised what had been happening. I did not have to develop any of the materials - they had already been developed by Leigh and were available on the course wiki.

Maintaining my role
I did struggle at times with maintaining a 'facilitation only' role. I may be wrong, but I felt it was not my role to introduce new material and I also believed it was important for me to stay neutral in discussions. However, I found this was very difficult to do, especially as many of the learners were new to the topics we were looking at. So I found myself taking a lead at times because I was the 'expert' at the time. For example, we got into discussions about Twitter so I wrote up a couple of blog posts about the use of Twitter, and use of Twitter for teaching and learning.

Giving feedback
I also found it difficult to know what feedback to give students as a facilitator, rather than a teacher. I didn't like to give feedback on their performance as such because I felt that was the teacher's role, especially relating to their individual blogs which was an assessment requirement. So I endeavoured to ask questions that hopefully would get students thinking further. But I felt the problem with that was that the students were going through the course a little blind because they did not know how they were progressing in terms of assessment.

What happened when I took on dual roles of teaching and facilitation
Half way through the course circumstances changed and I became facilitator and teacher. This had several effects. On the one hand I felt a lot more relaxed, feeling that I didn't need to worry so much about what I was doing...what hat I was wearing.

On the down side, I felt a change in dynamics between myself and the students when it came to assessment. I felt I had changed from being fellow traveller down the road of learning to being a critic. This brought me back to the question I am often angsting about when I am involved with assessment in courses such as this: who am I to put a value on a person's learning?

Holistic assessment
The positive aspect to mixing teaching/assessment and facilitation roles is that I had a much better sense of who the students were and their progress through the course when assessing them than Leigh would have had if he had been the assessor only. I felt that this allowed me to take a far more holistic approach to assessment - I knew what the students' backgrounds were, how they had grown over the course, what problems they faced and overcome. I also knew how the course had unfolded over the weeks - what its strengths and weaknesses were - what students were clear about and the areas that students had not explored adequately. All these things I was able to take into consideration when I was marking their assessment.

What I learned
I am not at all sure if I am making any sense of this, but I am not convinced the model of facilitating a course separately from assessment works well. This may be because of the way I defined what a facilitator does. What do you think - how would you define the facilitator's role in the context of an education course?

I understand the issue of power and control, and how that can affect the students' learning experience. I also agree that my role is not to tell students what to do but rather guide, steward or curate them to their own understanding and creation of learning. At the same time, there will be times when I am the expert and students will learn from my 'telling'.

I don't know if the discussion should be about the effect of the roles of the teacher and facilitator on learning, but rather the role of assessment in learning? What do you think? Do you think it matters what roles people take in a course, or is the teaching style and personality that affects learning?

What about next year?
As for what I would recommend for next year? I'm not sure. I do think it is good to have more than one person involved in a course like 'Facilitating Online' so you get a mix of teaching and facilitating styles and approaches. And the issue of the power a teacher has over students with assessment is diluted and moderated. I'd love to hear what you think and your experiences in open online courses.

Image: 'Teaching Math or Something' foundphotoslj

Obsterician Wendy Savage up for BMJ Group Lifetime Achievement Award 2010

Professor Wendy Savage is a very special obstetrician who has tirelessly campaigned for women's childbirth rights for many years. She has now been nominated for the British Medical Journal Group Lifetime Achievement Award 2010. I would highly recommend that you vote for her here.

I first became aware of Wendy's work in the early 1980s when I was a young midwife in England. Wendy was suspended for some time for alleged incompetence but was exonerated. She became a feminist icon for the way she challenged paternal medical attitudes to childbirth. I actually met her a few years ago in New Zealand and found we had both worked in Gisborne for a time.

The thing that stands out for me about Wendy is that she has always been willing to stand up for what she feels is right, supporting women to achieve their potential in birth. At a time when women have been given less and less choice in birth, Wendy has stood firm and supported women to birth naturally. In particular she has campaigned for a reduction in caesarean section and has supported vaginal breech birth. This has got her in trouble at times with her medical colleagues but she has always stayed true to her philosophy, and has been very supportive of midwives.

You can read more about Wendy's views in her book "Birth and Power".

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Planning for the 24 hour virtual International Day of the Midwife 2010

Last year Deborah Davis and I organized and facilitated the 24 hour virtual International Day of the Midwife. It was a last minute experiment that was very successful in a limited way. The feedback we received was that midwives were very keen to be involved, but needed more time to organize themselves.

So here we are, calling for expressions of interest for this year's 24 hour virtual International Day of the Midwife which will be on May 5th 2010. Would you like to give a presentation, write a paragraph, make a video or podcast, or do anything that can be published on the Internet - tell us about your life as a midwife or student, or an issue that affects your practice as a midwife or interests you? Or, would you like the opportunity to just get together with midwives and have a general discussion or tell stories?

Aim of the 24 hour event
The aim of the 24 hour virtual IDM is to provide access to asynchronous and live online events that will suit midwives in every time zone. My not-so-hidden agenda is to encourage midwives to think about how they can communicate, share resources and explore online communication tools.

What does it involve?
What we would like you to do is organize an online event of some sort to fit a time zone of your choice. The event can be real time/live, or asynchronous. In a word...anything goes! Here are a few ideas of what you may like to think about:
  • present a live talk/presentation in a virtual classroom
  • host a live chat or discussion
  • share stories with student midwives
  • make a video, post it on YouTube and get a discussion going
  • post a PowerPoint presentation on SlideShare
  • add some information about midwifery, pregnancy or childbirth to Wikipedia
  • host a conference in Second Life
  • post a photo about midwifery on Flickr
  • make an Animoto midwifery video
  • make a midwifery Wordle
  • start off a conversation in a midwifery Facebook group
  • write a blog post
  • record a podcast
What do I do next?
If you are interested in taking part, have a look here at the wiki which will give you more information. Have a think about what you would like to do, and what time zone would suit you. Either add your details to the wiki, contact me here on my blog in a 'comment', or by email:

I don't think I can take part because I do not speak English very well
You do not have to use English for your presentation or session. In fact, it would be fabulous if we had some events in languages other than English so that we can reach even more midwives.

What other ways can I help?
If you don't feel you can take responsibility for a virtual event, there are a few more ways you can help:
  • advertise the event to as many midiwves as you can, midwives you know face-to-face and online
  • pass on the information about this event to anyone you think may be interested in being involved in organizing an event
  • volunteer to be a facilitator on the day which means you are responsible for the running of at least one live event - we are especially interested in having people facilitate live sessions at times when we'll be fast asleep in New Zealand and Australia :)
  • volunteer to be back-up help on the day
  • and if you are a midwifery geek, you can volunteer to be on-call to help with technology issues
The other thing I would like some suggestions about is financial sponsorship. What I would really like to be able to do is make a CD of the recordings of the live events. Then, I could post them to midwives who are interested in this concept but cannot access the Internet. What do you think of that idea - a little too ambitious? If not, any ideas of where I could go for sponsorship?

Please feel free to contact me if you want any ideas or help with technology -for example, you may want to make a short and easy video but am not sure how to do it. If you get in touch, I'll either be able to help, or can direct to information or people who can help.

Images: 'Army Reserve Nurse Delivers Baby in Rural+Uganda+-+United+States+Army+Africa+-+Natural+Fire+10+-+AFRICOM'
US Army Africa

My urban garden

One advantages of being settled in Dunedin this year is that I can spend some time playing in my garden. As I have said before, I do not have much room in my garden so I have spent the last few weeks experimenting with growing flowers and vegetables in pots and bags.

What I have tried to do is use pots for growing flowers, and plant vegetables in the flower beds. My hubby isn't too impressed because he says the place looks untidy, but hopefully he'll change his mind when we have fresh veggies for tea.

I am growing strawberries, potatoes (in bags), cucumber, marrow, rhubarb, silver beet, cabbage and broccoli.
I also have some tomatoes growing, but they have been badly affected by some very cold wind we have been endearing over the last few weeks. So I have had to rescue them, put them in pots and keep them indoors for the time being.

I'm not saving money by doing this because I have had to buy a lot of pots, compost and potting mix. But what I'll try to do next year is grow my plants from seed instead of buying them as plants from the garden center.

Needing advice
I have just found some Maori potatoes and yams sprouting in the bottom of my potato bucket and am thinking of trying to grow them too. Any advice of the best way to do this?