I have already explored the use of blogs and wikis in previous postings, however my thoughts on the usefulness for these tools continues to grow as I use them more and learn through this use. Sarah discovered that it is possible to create a blog with multiple users at blogspot. A lecturer could establish a group blog for a group of students. Students can then be encouraged to blog about a topic they are investigating or reflections on learning activities they are engaged in. This would provide opportunities for informal learning and provide students with experience and tools which could benefit them in future midwifery practice and facilitate life long learning opportunities.
For midwives currently in practice group blogs might be a useful tool for sharing practice information and share experience and evidence for practice. Rural midwives might feel that this is particularly beneficial for them, providing opportunities for sharing not otherwise available.
Wikis have potential for groups to explore a particular topic in greater depth. A group of students or midwives could commence a wiki on a topic such as group B streptococcus perhaps. Each person can independently access the same document and add content or make changes where new evidence comes to light. This collaborative process could be used for developing group presentations or reaching consensus on treatment options.
Elluminate provides the opportunity for midwives or students to come together from a computer in their own home or a local source such as a library internet cafe or maternity facility. Synchronous discussion can occur through talking or text message. Also course material or powerpoint slides can be shown on a whiteboard online at the same time. Larger groups can also be broken off into smaller groups to brainstorm particular issues. A good internet connection is required however. Although this can be accessed through a dial up connection some material may take a very long time to load.
I have been thinking a lot about second life today following my last experience there. I am not sure whether all of the things I have been considering would be possible. Perhaps those with greater knowledge could enlighten me. I believe that there are a number of uses for SL for midwives and midwifery students. I am about to fly to Auckland for a training day in real life. Midwives are traveling there from all over the country, this is logistically difficult to organise and very expensive. In second life these people would be able to come together. Powerpoint presentations could be delivered and discussed in real time. Participants can converse and share their thoughts and experience in real time. Experts could deliver real life video lectures through this medium. This must be more cost effective than getting everyone together form all over the country.
For undergraduate students there could be many learning applications for SL. Lectures could be delivered with real time discussion to follow. There is actually a physical presence to interact with. There is also an opportunity for scenario based learning . A particular scenario could be established. The students could be given information and could then make choices about the action they might take. This would lead the student to pass [teleport]to another part of the scenario where the consequences of their choices could be explored and further choices offered. Use of animations and graphics could make this very real and give a feel for the real life aspects of the issues which are explored.
The downside to all of this is getting everyone comfortable with using these web 2.0 tools and the time it would take to prepare and deliver some of these things, particularly the graphics etc for second life.
There are also many other applications such as you-tube videos which can present skills for students to view in their own time. Slide-share presentations which can either be viewed on the site or loaded onto blogs and many more tools which are sure to be used in the future.
I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to explore and consider these various tools and resources through the facilitating online learning communities course. I would love to hear from midwives, students or fellow lecturers about how they feel about these resources. Do you think these could be useful to you? How do you feel you could use them?