Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Integrating Second Life into midwifery education (Sarah Stewart, DEANZ 2010)

Breastfeeding symbolImage via Wikipedia
A real interesting presentation, Sarah Stewart gave a great overview of how Second Life can be used in a way to enhance learning that was not possible without a virtual world. The midwifery project/normal birth scenario was part of a larger project using Second Life in NZ education project.

Sarah started by checking who had been into Second Life before, and then very briefly described some of the basics of Second Life, creating an avatar and getting around. She used a lot of screen shots to help create a sense of the environment and the participants who collaborated in the design of the project itself.

The underlying design behind the birth unit in Second Life were shown. Sarah advised that they wanted students to be able to contextualise what they were learning, while also being able to apply their existing knowledge. Research shows that the birthing environment affects the outcomes of the birth - a sterile, cold, clinical environment can result in anxiety, and ultimately in interventions such as c-sections, with knock-on impact on the ability to breast-feed, for instance.

Pictures of nurturing things and colours have been chosen to create a sense of warmth and safety. Machines and instruments are kept in cupboards. Information and references wre kept in Wiki Educator as well as a back up if students were having problems with Internet connections etc. Also, there was investment into the notion of ensuring that everything was open and freely accessible to educators around the wold. A closed Facebook group was used to house some of the activities, such as reflective activities. They made the conscious decision not to use Moodle, partly for issues of ownership/openness, and partly because students were already familiar with Facebeook and did not require upskilling.

Sarah's presentation was full of great images and ideas which gave a great introduction to a scenrio and set of skills that would have been extremely difficult to have experienced in a real-world situation. The focus on sharing with peers, reflection, and the ability to trial things as many times as was required by each learner illustrated some of the benefits of learning in a virtual world. The idea of a safe, 'sandpit' environment for taking risks (without endangering anyone) in a social, fun environment is key. It won't replace the actual clinical environment, but it works effectively hand-in-hand with a virtual world.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]


penflame said...

Hello I've come across your blog while I was searching for topic contents for my IT class to Midwifery 2 students... I want to ask help from you regarding the course syllabus or what kind of topics or major contents shall I give to midwifery students with regards to ICT.. I am an IT graduate and recently assigned to be an instructor for their "IT" subject. My dept.head just told me that I'm just gonna introduce them to fundamental computer concepts. But as a professional in this field I know the students need a lot more knowledge especially with ICT applications in their healthcare field. That's why I want to solicit your help on what could be the effective course content for my subject which can be done within one semester's period of time... I can be reached thru penflameinfinity@gmail.com... Hoping for a positive feedback. Thank you very much Ma'am.

Hazel Owen said...

Hello, and thank you for your questions. It's a pretty huge subject, and it's tricky to know where to start :-)

Taking a step back from the subject of the course for the moment I would say that for any course you would need to make whatever you introduce relevant, accessible, and that will help build peer support and learning.

Depending on the midwifery course, there is likely to be some reflective practice involved, as well as evidence-based assessment, and the usual completion of papers and projects. The focus I would probably use to pull all of these things together are ePortfolios (and if your institution doesn't have one 'in house' I'd recommend looking at Blogger or Wordpress for ease of use, or Netvibes:http://www.netvibes.com/en).

If you have a wee look at this diagram (http://bit.ly/LhK34e) it illustrates how a tertiary learner might pull together an ePortfolio that is both a place for learning, as well as something they carry forward with them as a professional (see for example, this ePortfolio from Sarah Stewart, a midwife: http://sarahstewart-eportfolio.wikispaces.com/).

You could develop an entire semester working with students to develop their ePortfolio (in a way that is linked to the course learning outcomes & graduate profile), and couched within this would be knowledge about the applications relevant to them in the healthcare field (perhaps with the associated knowledge and relevance to the healthcare profession all shared in a wiki that the students build and share globally).

To find out more about ePortfolios, I have put together some resources here: http://bit.ly/LMbDVk.

I'm sure you'll have heaps more questions, but hopefully this will give you a good starting point. And please feel free to get back in touch.