Saturday, March 21, 2009
New midwifery education programme
Image: Digging Deep from law-keven's photos on Flickr.com
I have been very remiss with blogging lately. Our new programme of undergraduate midwifery education began at the start of this year and we are now well underway. All our students are following online learning resources we have prepared. These resources contain all the material we would have taught in lectures previously. We started with the whole class face to face for two weeks getting to know each other and the programme as well as a small amount of face to face teaching.At the end of these two weeks the students went to their respective local areas, we have a group of students based in Invercargill and a another small group in Queenstown as well as the much larger group in Dunedin. The students have been divided into tutorial groups of up to 7 students and these groups meet face to face with a facilitator for half a day a week. During these tutorial sessions student are able to discuss the practice experience they are having working with women in a supportive relationship or during practice experiences in the maternity facilities. They also have the opportunity to go over practice skills and talk about question they have. In addition the entire class come together online once a week for a class discussion about what they have been learning for that week. This is facilitated by the course coordinator for the course they are working on. We also have a closed facebook group where the students can share stories and experiences.
Feedback from the students has been positive so far with many commenting how much they enjoy learning in this way. It is quite challenging to keep up with all the students however they have a close relationship with their own practice facilitator who will be able to monitor how the students are engaging with the programme. Their have been some teething problems, and it is has been quite a challenge at times to get all the resources ready in time. This continues to be a bit of a challenge.
We use Moodle to deliver our courses and EXE to develop the learning resources to load onto Moodle. Some of the quizzes in EXE take a long time to prepare and load. I found some free online resources to create quizzes which were much easier to prepare. These online quizzes were also interesting to look at, interactive and stimulating. However I have just discovered that the programme I preferred and used most often has made changes to its site and all my quizzes have been lost. This means I now have to do this all over again. I have discovered that this type of teaching is actually very labour intensive. It is however flexible. It is possible for me to work from home reasonably often, which is good since it takes me an hour to drive to my work. I can also be reasonably flexible with my time and often work in the evening with my laptop on my knee. I know however that this is not something that appeals to many of my colleagues. It suits me since I do not particularly enjoy many television programmes and my children are adult an I have no other distractions at home, other than a husband (who can be quite distracting sometimes :).)
We have developed our programme in collaboration with the midwifery school in Christchurch and they have a satellite group of students in Nelson. Mostly this collaboration has worked very well. Each course has a coordinator in Christchurch (CPIT)and another in Dunedin (OP). There are very large philosophical differences between the two institutions however. CPIT protect all their resources with copyright while OP have adopted a the use of creative commons licensing. This presents a tension around how resources are presented. If OP were to fully follow our institutional policy all the resources would be open and available to everyone online, however CPIT require these to only be accessible to those enrolled in the programme and to teaching staff. It is to be hoped that these issues can be resolved. I personally believe that the OP policy is the more enlightened, however we need to be so careful that all our resources are free to use and have no copyright restrictions on them.
At this point I would say I am confident that we have the new programme pretty right. I believe it is working well and I am enjoying being involved. I do feel that at the moment I am 'on the run' the whole time trying to keep up. I think this will probably be better next year when we are just making some changes and adaptions rather than developing the whole thing from scratch. I do wish I had more time. It can be a bit overwhelming at times and I imagine the students feel the same way. Hence my very limited blogging of late. There are one or two things that we might change. For example at the start of the year we might bring the students in and then have weeks break before bringing them back for the second week. On the whole I think it has gone better than any of us could have hoped. But it is still early days!