Thursday, March 29, 2012

7 things to think about when asking for student feedback on your teaching

Last week I attended a workshop about student evaluation led by Professor Sid Nair. Sid is an academic who has spent a lot of time researching the best ways to ask for student feedback and what to do with the feedback once you have got it. I am afraid I had to leave the workshop just as things were getting really interesting, but here are seven main points that I got out of the section that I was able to attend.

1. You have four to six weeks to make a good impression on the students
This is hugely significant because if you do not make the most of the first few weeks of your course to engage and capture students, they will deem you to be a poor teacher and it will not matter what you do afterwards, you will receive poor feedback.

2. Students do know what they are talking about
I confess I have been guilty in the past of minimalising what students say for various reasons. But the reality is they know what a good teacher is, or isn't. Interestingly, undergraduate students are more critical than postgraduate students which is certainly true, in my experience. I do not know why, but I suspect it is because postgraduate classes are smaller, which has enabled me to have a more personal relationship with postgraduate students. So the moral of the story is to work hard with undergraduates because they make up their mind about your teaching within four to six weeks of the course starting.

3. Response rates
Anything over 40% is good.....response rates over 70% is great. Traditionally, you will always get lower response rates to a distance-run course.

4. How to increase response rates
There are a number of ways to increase feedback rates. But what you must resist is making feedback compulsory. If you do, you will get poor quality information back from students.

  • Get student buy-in by asking a senior member of staff to explain what the survey is about, and what you are going to do with the feedback. This will give credibility to the feedback mechanism.
  • You will increase response rates if you close the feedback loop. In other words, make sure you tell the students about the feedback you have received, and how and what you plan to do about it.
  • Use a mix of feedback methodologies. For example, if you're finding that you do not get good responses to online surveys, try paper questionnaires. If you're not getting adequate depth of feedback from surveys, use focus groups. 
  • Teachers must take responsibility for response rates, and do all they can to increase rates which may include frequent reminders to students. We know that the more teachers work to promote the survey, the higher the response rates will be.
  • Questionnaires must be developed to follow good design principles. Poorly designed questionnaires will not attract high response rates.
  • The quality of feedback will improve if you ask students about their personal experience as opposed to the experience of the class as a whole.
5. Do not ask about teachers knowledge level or if they appear to be up to date
Students are unlikely to have the knowledge or experience to make this judgement. However, if feedback about the level of the teacher's knowledge crops up in comments, then obviously this has to be looked at. 

6. Difficulty of assessment and marking does not affect feedback
In other words,  if you are a poor teacher you will receive poor feedback even if you give students easy assessments and mark them generously.

7. Timing
  • Because students make up their minds about teachers' performance in the first four to six weeks of the course, you can ask for teacher feedback any time after the middle of the course.
  • Course evaluation should be administered at the end of the course.
  • Make the survey available on Thursday/Friday so students have all weekend to complete it. Do the same when you send out reminders.
Chenicheri Sid Nair and Chris Waylan: Quality and Evaluation: A Universal System for a Quality Outcome. 2005.

Lorraine Bennett a, Chenicheri Sid Nair  & Chris Wayland.  Love it or Hate it: Participation a Key Ingredient in Closing the Loop. 2006.
Chenicheri Sid Nair, Phillip Adams, Stefano Ferraiuolo & Andrew Curtis. Student Engagement the Key to Better Response Rates. 2006.
Mahsood Shah, Mark Wilson, Professor Chenicheri Sid Nair. The Australian Higher Education Quality Assurance Framework: Its Success, Deficiencies and Way Forward. 2010.

Image: 'Blizard Building lecture theatre'


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Collecting tips and tricks for using Adobe Connect for international conferences

 This year we are using Adobe Connect (a web conference software) to deliver the Virtual International Day of the Midwife, which is a free online conference for midwives on the 5th May, 2012. Up until this year we have used Elluminate, which has been very kindly provided by Otago Polytechnic, New Zealand. But this year OP has moved to Adobe Connect, so consequently, we have had to make the move also.

Adobe Connect
Over the last three years I have become quite adept at using Elluminate, so it is with some trepidation that I am preparing to use a new software. The principles of online facilitation are the same whatever technology you use. However, I am finding it difficult to find people to talk to who are experienced with using Adobe Connect, especially with large, global audiences.

I am slowly getting my head around how to use Adobe Connect. I have collated information about how to use it for VIDM 2012 participants, and have a detailed plan for facilitators who have volunteered to help out on the day. I have also managed to get some answers to questions from the Adobe Connect Q&A forums.

Tips and tricks for using Adobe Connect
Here are a few tips and tricks I have picked up.
I would love to hear from you if you use Adobe Connect on a regular basis, especially for large global events. Do you have any particular tips and tricks? I am especially interested in how you admit people into a room, especially important people like a speaker, that is already full? 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Lesson I have learned about growing veggies in pots this year

I have just come to the end of my third year of experimenting with growing veggies in pots. To be honest, the main lesson I have taken away from this year and previous years, that it just isn't cost effective. This is especially as I am only just down the road from a fabulous farmers' market where I can stock up with fresh veggies every week. But having said that, I get a tremendous amount of pleasure out of the whole process of gardening, so from that point of view, the pots have been very successful this year.

What worked well?
Beetroot grew well. They didn't get very big but that suited me for bottling. Carrots grew well too but I had to work hard to thin them out so they had enough room to get to a decent size. Broccoli and cauliflower appear to do well in pots except they were decimated by bugs and caterpillars. And I can only get about one plant to a pot which makes it extravagant pot use. I also had a very respectable crop of cucumber which I grew in pots in my porch. As for herbs, I have done well with both rosemary and mint in pots.

What didn't work well?
I must be the only person in the world who cannot grow pumpkin. I had one plant in a huge pot but it still came to nothing. I only managed to get one zucchini from three plants and my lettuce were useless...they were very small and curled in on themselves.

What I am going to try next year
I have just planted some onion seeds so it will be really interesting to see how they do. And I am just trying to think what to put in my big bath...any suggestions?

Have you tried to grow veggies in pots? How did you get on? What veggies did you find do the best in pots?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What makes a great midwifery mentor?

The other day I had a lovely lunch with a dear friend who was visiting from England for a couple of weeks. Kate was one of my mentors when I was a student and newly registered midwife, working at Odstock hospital maternity unit in Salisbury, UK.

We spent the whole time reminiscing about the good old days (which to my horror were 28 years ago!) which got me reflecting on the qualities that midwives such as Kate displayed all those years ago, and why they made such an impact on me.

As a result of my reflections I have come up with my five top attributes that make a great midwifery mentor.

1. Knowledgeable
It seemed to me that there wasn't much Kate didn't know, which made her an incredible resource for me. This in turn made me feel confident in my own practice because I always knew she'd be able to point me in the right direction if I got a little lost.

2. Accessible
It goes without saying that a midwife can be the most knowledgeable person in the world, but if she is scary and unapproachable, then a student or new midwife will find it too stressful to talk to her. I remember a number of midwives like that...they made no contribution to my growth as a midwife other than me determining that I didn't want to be like them.

3. Hands off
By this, I mean that a great mentor will allow you to do your grow and develop...but keep a watchful eye and step in if you're about to make a horrible mistake. There's nothing worse than a midwife who doesn't trust you. That only makes you lose confidence, which in turn impacts on your practice. 

4. Secure in the midwifery role
The thing that really stands out about Kate and the other midwives like her was that they were secure in their role as midwives. They worked really well in the team with obstetricians and paediatricians but they knew their stuff and were very clear about midwives' work. They were strong and did not tolerate unnecessary medical intervention. But they were also expert in recognising when things were abnormal and knew exactly when it was appropriate to refer to specialists. This was such good modelling which resulted in me being very sure what a midwife is and does.

5. Highly skilled
I don't suppose there is too much difference between knowledgeable and skilled, but what I am thinking of here was the way that Kate could handle more complex situations or an emergency. I never felt nervous that things would get out of hand. And Kate, and her colleagues, always appeared cool, calm and collected. Of course, I know that probably wasn't the case but a junior member of staff, all I could see was complete professionalism even in the most stressful circumstances.

It was delightful seeing Kate again and she certainly brought back some fabulous memories. I hope to go back to Odstock for a visit when I am in the UK in May, and catch up with some of those wonderful women I worked with all those years ago. I know I have never achieved their level of clinical skills but I hope a student midwife remembers me fondly as being someone who made a difference to her practice.

Do you have a mentor you remember from years ago? What do you remember about him or her? If you are a student midwife, what attributes do you want the midwives you work with to display?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Needing some website design advice

Planning and organisation of the 4th Annual Virtual International Day of the Midwife on the 5th May 2012 is hotting up. The program is already confirmed, which is unprecedented in terms of timing - I am usually still twisting people's arms right up until the last few days.

Sadly, I have had to turn speakers away because the program is full. The VIDM committee played with the idea of concurrent sessions but decided to stay with one stream this year because a. we're not sure if we have enough facilitators and b. we're very new to Adobe Connect this year and don't want to take on more than we can chew in regards to technology.

Developing the VIDM 2012 website
The job I have been working on this weekend is getting the VIDM 2012 website/wiki together so we can get on and push ahead with our advertising. But I am hopeless with design and am getting to the point where I cannot see the woods from the trees.

Needing a critical eye
What I would really appreciate is for any feedback on:
  • how the website looks in terms of appearance;
  • how easy it is to navigate;
  • and the clarity of information.
What works well? Is there anything you would change? What would you add and what would you delete?

Oily rag
But before you come up with lots of amazing suggestions, please be aware that we do not operate on the smell of an oily fact....we don't even have an oily rag. So suggestions about paying for a professional web designer to sort out the website just won't be a practical one because we have no funding. And not only that, but we wish to model to midwives and health professionals what can be achieved with very basic resources.

Looking forward to hearing what you think. Thank you.

Friday, March 16, 2012

How to Bring the Virtual International Day of the Midwife 2012 to your Hospital, Facility or Organisation

Here's a few thoughts and tips about how to hook up to the Virtual International Day of the Midwife on 5th May 2012 in the hospital and facility where you work, so that midwives can dip in and out of sessions when it suits them.

Adobe Connect
The conference is being held in Adobe Connect - click here to be taken to the conference room. The meeting room has been kindly donated by the Otago Polytechnic, Dunedin, New Zealand. Here is information about how to set up Adobe Connect and what to do when you join the conference.
You shouldn't have any problems sorting out your computer but my advice is to talk to your IT support in plenty of time if you do have problems.

Internet access
Adobe  Connect even runs on dial up internet connection, although it can take longer load up. Here are some instructions on how to set the correct connection for your computer when you are in the conference room.

If there is only one or two of you sitting around a computer, you should be able to hear adequately. But if there is going to be a few people, I would recommend that you plug speakers into your computer so you all can hear the presentations.

If you work in a bigger hospital and have a conference room with a computer linked to the internet, you will be able to get more people to see what's going on if you project the sessions onto the wall or a screen.

If you do not have a microphone, you will be able to hear what's going on, and you will be able to communicate with other participants using the 'chat' text box. However, if you wish to speak and join in with audio, you will need a microphone.

You can buy very cheap headsets with microphones. If you are sharing a computer with a number of people, all you need to do is plug the mic into the computer and share it around when someone wants to speak. But don't plug in the speaker lead of the headset because no one will be able to hear the audio.

Setting up the audio and microphone
Once you are in the meeting room, you will need to check that you can hear and that your microphone works - click here for information on how to use the audio wizard that will walk you though how to set up your audio and mic.

Having a play
My advice is that you have a 'play' and try out Adobe Connect before the 5th May, so you can make sure everything is working beforehand. The VIDM practice room is always open for you to try it out - click here to go to the meeting room. There will be some facilitated practice sessions in the couple of weeks running up the the 5th May, so feel free to join one of those sessions, especially if you have any questions about how to use it.

Advertising the Virtual International Day of the Midwife 2012
Here is a link to a poster that you can download, print off and post up around your organisation.

If you have any further queries about how to use Adobe Connect, or would like to meet someone in the meeting room to test things out, please let me know: sarahstewart07(at)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

VIDM 2012 coming along nicely

Things are starting to fall into place very nicely for the 4th Annual VIDM 2012. Here are the minutes of our committee meeting on March 12th.

1. Update on speakers

We have just 3 sessions unconfirmed with at least 3 people interested in those time slots.

  • Professor Lesley Page is confirmed as opening speaker which will give this event real credibility.
  • We are 90% sure we will be able to arrange a Maori welcome to the conference.
  • We have confirmed a Canadian consumer group to be the closing session which we felt was appropriate for the VIDM. Hopefully we can arrange for an ICM representative to close the conference.
There has been an increased level of interest in being a speaker partly, we feel, because of our increased presence on Facebook and Twitter, and also because I emailed all the midwifery societies associated with the ICM as per the ICM website. We discussed the feasibility of having concurrent sessions but felt that this year we would stick with one stream.  This is partly because we are new to Adobe Connect and also we're not sure how many facilitators we can access.

2. Adobe Connect
We had a play with the Adobe Connect room, which is a web conferencing software and it seemed to be working well so agreed we would go with Adobe. We can have up to 100 seats which may be too few at some times, but on average should be enough.
  • We will opt for using the same room throughout the conference. However, we will need to make sure facilitators stick to time so the next session can be set up in readiness to start on time. We will also need to make sure that the facilitators pass on host rights – if there is no host in the room, the room will close down and we won't be able to open it again.
  • We can separate out the recordings. We can also set up the room with all 24 presentations beforehand.
  • Information on how to use the room, including how to clear chat and presentations before the next session etc will be developed and posted on the wiki asap.
We want to find out if there is a free room provided by Adobe where we can practice being hosts, so if you know anything about this, please let me know. The other thing I want to know is.... how can you enable participants to see the chat box?

3. Social media and marketing
Sarah B and Lorraine have taken over the management of the Facebook and Twitter accounts and have been interacting on pages and groups with any relevance to the VIDM, as well as speakers' pages. This is already resulting in an increase in traffic. We continue to plan for an article about the use of social media in the implementation of an event like this, but will probably wait until after this year's conference when we have more data.
  • I will develop up a newsletter which can be sent by email to everyone in my database, members of the VIDM wiki, which now number 245, as well as FB and Twitter followers. 
  • We're also going to ask a designer to put a poster together that people can download and put up on the wall where they study/work/ If you want one, let me know.
4. Facilitators
The next big job is to organise facilitators. We will continue to use the model of master facilitators and facilitators.
  • Master facilitators will be in charge of 4 – 6 hour blocks. These will be people who are technology savvy. There are going to be at least four master facilitators. Hopefully, we can get another 2 people on board so all we need to worry about is the shorter 4 hour time frames. If you are an experienced online facilitator, especially with experience with Adobe Connect, let me know if you can help us out.
  • Facilitators will be in charge of the hourly slots.Again, if you're intersted in being a faciltator, let me know. You will have to support a speaker to get his/her technology sorted before the conference, and then provide support on the day.
5. Other business
I've been thinking: Is it worth thinking about distributing a CD with the session recordings to the midwifery associations via the ICM website?The main issue is funding, so we need to think how we can raise money to be able to pay for this initiative.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My nurse's buckle

One of the joys of losing weight is that I can wear things I haven't been able to get on for years, like my engagement ring. The other thing I can get on now is my old nurse's belt and buckle. The last time I was able to wear it was back in the early 1990's - having a second baby more or less put paid to wearing altogether.
The buckle is silver and made in the early 1900s and was given to me by my parents when I became a registered nurse. It was particularly special to me because I failed my nurse registration exams the first time I took them - was too busy playing and not enough time spent revising for my exams! It was a big deal having a real silver buckle back in those days...I doubt nurses are allowed to wear them now...bound to be a health and safety issue!

I don't think you can make out the detail but it is made up of little daises...the detail is quite intricate and pretty. I often wonder who wore it before me...what kind of nurse were they...where did they did the buckle come to be in a jeweller's shop?

Now that I see belts are back in fashion I am going to get the buckle cleaned up and put on a new belt, and start wearing it again. Then one day I'll pass it on to my daughter and hopefully it will become a family heirloom. You never know...I may have a granddaughter become a nurse, who I can hand it on to.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Facebook and critical thinking

I am always sharing images and resources on Facebook, some funny and irrelevant and others are "professional" that I think people might find useful for work and learning. I'll be honest...I often share things that I don't put a lot of thought into because Facebook makes it so easy to just click a button. But this week I shared a couple of resources, and people's responses to them got me thinking about the downside of doing this...and got me reflecting about how careful you need to be before sharing random links to others.

Breastfeeding in intensive care
The first resource was an image of Serena Tremblay breastfeeding her baby whilst being intubated in intensive care. She had shared this photo on a Facebook page about breastfeeding, The Leaky Boob, and it went viral with 4,440 likes and 1,191 shares.

I shared the image because was a wonderful example of how breastfeeding can be successful in the most extreme circumstances with commitment from health professionals as well as mum. I didn't think anything of it. I got the photo from a person I respect and trust; it had been posted by Serena herself, and in it she said she was still feeding 15 months later.

I got a lot of questions and comments about Serena's health and concerns about her condition, and I felt terribly guilty because I hadn't even thought about those issues. I messaged Serena to ask how she was, and never got a reply which made me even more concerned about my thoughtlessness.

The Kony campaign
The second incident was the sharing of a video about the atrocities perpetrated by Joseph Kony in Uganda, and his use of child soldiers. This documentary, Kony 2012, has gone viral after being posted on YouTube. I shared it on my page because it looked as if this was an issue that warranted exposure.

But the reality is I know nothing about this issue and certainly used no critical thinking about the appropriateness of sharing this video. And since I have done so, I have come across a number of critiques of the video, the movement behind the video, and the current situation with Joseph Kony. Indeed, Ruth DeSouza left a link on my Facebook page to a very detailed essay she has written about this issue which highlights the dangers of using social media without accompanying critical thinking: When helping does not help: Invisible children and colonialism.

Facebook - does it do more harm than good?
The beauty of Facebook and social media in general is that you can highlight issues very easily and quickly inform people about your campaign. But it can also allow us to perpetrate misinformation.

Does Facebook do more harm than good? I cannot answer that question. I do know that I have learned things this week. I have learned about the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda and started thinking about the issue of child soldiers. I have learned to be a little more critical about the information I share via social media, and think more carefully about the human aspect behind photos and resources that I see on the internet. That has got to be good...hasn't it?

Have you shared anything on Facebook that you have lived to regret? How do you decide whether an item is suitable to share?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Introducing Facebook for teaching and learning: workshop at Otago Polytechnic

To provide a "show and tell" session that introduces teachers and staff at Otago Polytechnic to Facebook as a tool for teaching and learning. This workshop will also include how to incorporate Facebook into wider communication and marketing strategies for programs and schools.

By the end of the workshop, you will know:
  • How to set up your account;
  • How to make the most of your settings so you can keep your private profile separate from your professional one;
  • How to use it with your students as a communication tool and to support their learning;
  • How to use closed groups for reflection and classroom discussion, and
  • How to use Facebook for professional networking. 

How to set up your account
Go to and fill in the form.
  • Be mindful Facebook retains access to your information.
  • Facebook retains copyright over information and resources you post
  • Think carefully about whether you want to make your birthday visible or not. While it's nice to have people wish you 'happy birthday', it increases the risk to your online security.
  • Think about the photos you post, especially those of children and other people.
  • Do NOT post personal information such as bank account details, even on your private page.
  • Be mindful that people can trace all your activities on FB. 
How to make the most of your security settings 
  • Go through your privacy settings and set them how you want them - don't leave them on default.
  • Think about the difference between having information go "public", to "friends" and/or "acquaintances".
  • You don't have to automatically make someone your friend. If you are unsure what their connection is, send them a message and ask them why they want to connect with you.
  • If someone posts a comment you don't like...delete it. Don't be afraid to un-friend someone if you need to.
  • Consider whether you want a professional page as well as a personal page.
How to use it with your students as a communication tool and to support their learning
Have a think about whether you want to use it as a supplementary communication tool or whether you wish to embed it into your teaching. Yes, FB is where a lot of young people hang out, but they don't necessarily use it for learning. So what do you need to provide your students so they do use it effectively for learning? It is important to think about the pedagogy behind your use of FB. It is just as important to think about learning, teaching and assessment strategies in your use of FB as it is any other mode. It also needs just as much commitment and facilitation as classroom teaching.

How to use closed groups for reflection and classroom discussion
Groups are really useful because they allow you to communicate with students without having to become their "friends". In fact, I would advise that you don't "friend" students.  You can keep them open or closed, which is a really useful option especially if you want to keep conversation private. If you keep it open, you may need to think about moderation.
  • What is more appropriate...a group or page?
  • Who 'owns' the or the students?
How to use Facebook for professional networking
  • Spend time connecting with people.
  • Initiate conversations
  • Ask questions
  • Share resources and information
  • Always respond to comments
  • Interact on FB at least 3 times per week.
Remember: If you are ever unsure about something, have a 'play'....ask Mr Google....or check on YouTube.

More resources
Examples of Facebook Pages

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Questions to ask if you're thinking about integrating ePortfolio into your teaching

I have been talking to teachers in higher education for some time about ePortfolio and it's clear (and this is not meant as a criticism) that many do not think beyond the technology. But there's much more to think about, not least the pedagogy behind your use of ePortfolio.

I have blogged about this issue before. In this post 'A few questions before you launch into implementing ePortfolio at your education institution' I have articulated a few questions to ask if you're thinking of implementing ePortfolio on an institutional level. Here are six more questions to consider if you're thinking of implementing ePortfolio at course level.

1. How do you want to use ePortfolio?
Is the ePortfolio going to be purely a repository for students to store their work so you can easily access it? If that is the case, you want somewhere cheap and cheerful....your LMS may well suffice.

However, if you want it to be a place for students to be able to display their work and present evidence of their learning, you'll need to use something that students can make their own, and can easily handle the upload of documents and multi-media.

You also need to think about how students can present their work to others, especially people outside the institution such as future employers, and consider if there are privacy issues and how you will manage them.

Finally, if the ePortfolio is one that students are developing to support their search for employment when they leave your institution, you need to think how they'll be able to access their ePortfolio once they are no longer a student. You can use institutional ePortfolio platforms such as Pebble Pad or Mahara, but is your institution willing to give students access once they leave the institution? If not, you might be better off considering 'cloud' tools such as Google Sites that students have ongoing access to.

2. How will you embed ePortfolio into your course curriculum? 
I have heard some teachers talk about ePortfolio as if it were an optional extra. But to my mind it has to be carefully thought about and planned, and integrated into a course. It may even need to be integrated into a whole educational program so there is consistency, and a story that develops about the student's learning from start to finish. This means you have to go back to your curriculum and may need to make changes at that level. So working with ePortfolio is not something you wake up and do that day...once you start thinking about ePortfolio, you need to make sure your learning outcomes, assessment, aims and objectives are all in line.

3. Is ePortfolio relevant to students?
By this, I the ePortfolio something the students see a relevant need for, or is it just another task that you have set them. I have heard of educational organisations that have set up ePortfolios for thousands of students and many of them are un-used because students haven't engaged with them.

4. If you are using ePortfolio for assessment, have you thought about how you will mark it?
I have learned by painful experience that you have to have a clear criteria of what you expect from students' ePortfolio so they know what is expected of them, and you know how you'll mark it. Will you be purely marking content or will you also be looking at appearance and functionality? If you are marking the reflective elements of ePortfolio, how will you grade levels of reflection...what is meaningful reflection that has led to deep learning and what is purely description of an event or activity. Here is a link to some ePortfolio marking rubrics: ttp://

5. Do you want the ePortfolio to contribute to a community of learners, or will it be purely a private and personal process?
If the answer is that you'd like your students to collaborate, support each other and contribute to each other's ePortfolios, then you need to think about how you'll facilitate that. Are they students that will do this as a formative activity or will they need to be "motivated" by summative assessment? Have you thought about the issues of privacy and how you'll educate the students about treating each other's work with respect and trust? What technology best lends itself to sharing and communication? How will you (or will you) moderate what's going on?

6. How will you ensure that students have the appropriate digital literacy skills to manage their ePortfolio?
It is vital that you support students to develop the skills to manage their ePortfolio, both in terms of using the technology but also with the processes that ePortfolio demands, such as reflection. You'll need to think about how to manage audio and video files and copyright issues. You must check that students access to appropriate computers and internet access.

I am always interested to hear how teachers have incorporated ePortfolio into their courses, so please drop by and let me know what you're up to. I'd also love to hear any tips about using ePortfolio that you'd like to pass on to teachers about using ePortfolio. Finally, I haven't used any references per se, but if you're interested in learning more about ePortfolio, you cannot do any better than start with the work of Helen Barrett:

Image: 'Autumn leaves at the top of the weir'

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

How respectful are you to birthing women?

It is very sad that at a time when women are at their most vulnerable they are still suffering appalling treatment and violence.

But even little things can make a huge difference to the way women feel, so I challenge midwives and you treat women with respect?

How do you speak to them? What do you think about them? How do you judge women? Do you uphold their right to informed choice, and control over their care? Do you ensure they have privacy at all times? Do you do everything you can to speak their language? Do you facilitate access to food that is appropriate for them to eat and the religious support they require?

Here is the latest video from the White Ribbon Alliance to help us think about how we show respect to birthing women.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Can you afford to ignore Facebook as a teacher?

I was in a class of 16-18 year olds the other day to support a teacher as she ran a computer workshop. I am not used to working with people that young so I was blown away to see that the minute these students logged onto their computers, they checked into their Facebook accounts. When we asked them what they used Facebook for, it wasn't evident what they did there other than play games. Clearly, they weren't using it for professional networking or learning.

Why do students love Facebook?
I can see how annoying it must be for teachers when they are trying their best to teach students but cannot tear them away from Facebook. At the same time, teachers have to ask themselves hard questions...what is it about my teaching that is not engaging students?  Why is it that Facebook holds students' attention but my class doesn't?

Integrating Facebook into teaching
I have never taught young people... the youngest person I have taught is 18/19 years old and very motivated to learn in class. But I have been reflecting on the old adage...if you can't beat them, join them! Rather than ban Facebook in class, would teachers be better off thinking about how they can integrate Facebook into their teaching and into courses? At the very least, Facebook can be used effectively for communicating with students, and encouraging discussion and sharing of resources.

If you're a teacher and would like some ideas about how you can use Facebook in your class, here are 100 Ways You Should Be Using Facebook in Your Classroom.

Do you use Facebook to do you use it? If you are a student, would you like to see your teacher use Facebook in class?

Image: 'Laptop desks in the computer science building'

Saturday, March 3, 2012

I am talking about you

Hello everyone

I am currently in the process of writing a paper about this blog and how I use it to reflect, and how the wonderful comments you leave enhances my learning. I plan to submit it to an academic journal for publication.

I haven't gone through an ethical approval process because my research is about myself, and all your comments are in the public domain. I will not be asking your permission to talk about your comments.

However, if you have left comments on any of my posts that you do not want me to talk about in my paper, please can you let me know or delete the comment from this blog by March 18th 2012. Whilst your comments are identifiable (unless you have posted them anonymously) I will use pseudonyms in my paper.

Thank you all very much. You all contribute significantly to my learning and development as a learner and teacher....I wouldn't be without you.

If you'd like a copy of my paper when I've written, please let me know.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Reuniting with the Salisbury School of Nursing 1980-1983 set

I'm off to England to visit family in May for a couple of weeks and am absolutely thrilled that while I am there, I will be able to go to a reunion of my nursing set.

I did my registered nurse training at the Salisbury General Hospital in the middle of Salisbury when the institution was known as the Salisbury School of Nursing - it is now part of Bournemouth University.

I know it's a sign of old age when you start harping on about the good old days, but those years when I was living in the nurse's home with these wonderful girls (and couple of boys) 1980-1984 were fabulous. We worked hard and played hard, and I continue to stay in contact with many of them, and count a number of them as my best friends.

There are a few people that we've lost along the way so it will be really interesting to see if Facebook can help us find them again. I have already made contact with one of the set who I haven't spoken to for over 25 years.

One of the big problems will be tracing girls who are now married so are known by different names. So if anyone knows the whereabouts of these people, we'd love to know their contact details:
  • Chris Parker ( one of the chaps)
  • Rebecca Brown (Becky) - was Curtis at one stage but probably has another name now.
  • Mandy Easthope
  • Jackie Flanagan
  • Jackie Smith
It's going to be amazing to meet them all again....I just hope they don't think I look too old or fat!!

Have you ever been to a reunion of people you haven't seen for years? How did you get on?

Image: 'Stonehenge'