Thursday, September 13, 2007

Thoughts on wikis

I missed some important aspect of last nights class session. (As blogged earlier) however (as I am wont to do) my thoughts were hanging around this topic over night.I only teach in the undergraduate clinical papers and so my thoughts are related to this aspect of the course. Of course there are other uses for other theoretical aspects of the course.

I believe that developing online communication networks has enormous potential for midwives. As a scattered, and often quite isolated population, it provides opportunities to engage in one or many communities of practice . This is something that will certainly be of benefit to our students in the future and can be really beneficial to them in their third year of study. In this year they can be all over the country, sometimes overseas. It could provide the opportunity for them to come together as a class during this year and share experiences. They could also highlight how they feel they are growing as midwives and this could help to support members of the class who may have less confidence.

I believe that the needs of our students and the online learning environment they will require changes as they move through the course.

In year one I think this will be a tool to point students to useful information. To encourage the establishment of a supportive peer group. Tutorial groups could be held in a virtual environment and be facilitated by a lecturer but the lecturer would be able to sit quietly in the background and only interject if necessary. In a face to face group this can be very hard to do and should be much easier online. However in our Elluminate sessions I note that we do not necessarily join in and it is up to Bronwyn to try to stimulate us to do so. So perhaps my thoughts about the online environment are pretty unrealistic. As the midwifery course is being taught in seminar blocks we would have the opportunity for more regular contact with tutorial groups than is possible at present. It would also allow members of the group to come together while the group are on clinical avoiding long gaps in contact with each other. It also would allow the lecturer to have a better finger on the pulse of what is happening for students. I believe Elluminate would be a good tool for these sessions. I am confident the problems we are currently experiencing with Elluminate will be sorted out.

Students will be able to share what they are finding out with each other and with lecturers. This will allow lecturers to encourage critical evaluation of resources the students are identifying.

Clearly any open source network needs to have some clear ground rules for students so that they do not divulge confidential material. However students do need to have the opportunity to debrief in a secure environment . As far as open source learning material is concerned I think Otago Polytechnic has some decisions to make about whether this is where it wants to go i can think of several learning resources for midwives that could easily be adapted to an open source environment. I think if this material is out on the web midwives could access it from anywhere. They could work on it in their own time and then enroll to complete the assessment and gain the qualification. Concern about this seems to be principally,

a) What is to stop the material being altered and midwives accessing this not knowing whether this is the original material or something which has been altered by others.

b) Other institutions might use the material and create their own assessments from it granting qualifications from it. This would then lose revenue for the Polytech. I wonder if this would really matter if there is a much wider national and international audience would we not be guaranteed more participants in the course anyway. At least some of these must want the original qualification surely.

I need to get to my wiki now and start work. It seems to me that we are being asked to create wikis much as we did blogs and to comment on each others thoughts as we are being encouraged to comment on each others blogs. Or am I way off the track again. Who knows maybe someone will let me know!


Sarah Stewart said...

In the third year of our midwifery program, the students are off with midwives, placed all over the country. So the potential for social networking is huge. The only problem is: is students do not have the ready access to computers and the Internet that they have when on-campus, especially when they are working in rural placements. I have tried to encourage students to keep in touch using BlackBoard, but no one has. I think they use mobile phone txt to do that. I also have a sense that students will only put their energy into something that has an outcome ie leads to an assessment mark, so we will have to make things 'worth their while'.

Leigh said...

Perhaps they would use though? I have been amazed at the number of people taking up Facebook. So many of them not at all tech savvy! Perhaps you might try it out and set up a midwives group and see where that might go

Carolyn McIntosh said...

Thanks for the ti Leigh. I have signed up for Facebook and will consider whether we can set up a group there.

Sarah Stewart said...

It would be worth having a 'go'. My daughter has just had a big Europe trip and met loads of people from all over the place and keeps in touch with the. But as I said before, you can only do that if you have access to the Internet.

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