Monday, September 27, 2010

Mixed mode learning environment for midwifery students (Adam McMillan et al at Sharefest)

A woman giving birth on a birth chair, from a ...Image via Wikipedia
A presentation that looked at the midwifery course at Wintec. The midwifery programme is 3years, 45 weeks /year, 4,8000 total hourse, 2,400 practice hours. The students range from 18 to 58, and have a wide range of experience, ethnicities and backgrounds...and have a lot of life exerperience.
Distance education means inclusion, and their learners can stay within their own communities and contexts. The course itself using 'story telling' which are women-centred, practice-centred, commercially-available, and fictional stories. The story-based approach led to a thoughtful blend whereby there are face-to-face sessions (lectures, simulation, objective simulation clinical examination). However, there are also clinical placements, video conferencing, Moodle and Live Meeting.

The distance / geographical dispersement of students meant that the virtual environments have been invaluable for builing community, support and learning. The teachers have all transitioned from clinician to teacher. They reinforce their own practice (affirming), along with perceptions of equality, delivery and support. Honesy is seen as central to the interactions within the course.

Frameworks of practice: In New Zealand midwifery is based on a partnership model (partly informed by the Treaty of Waitangi). The relationships with students are based on this notion of partnership, and there has been striving to become 'guides on the side'.

Attending surgeon's office; examination room, ...Image via WikipediaStaff support includes the Emergin technology centre, information technology services, and capability development. All combined to build confidence and capability. The generic workshops were not particularly beneficial, but the just-in-time contextualised support and training was really effective. Some of the technology was not as robust as it could be, but when it was working and working well it was good. One of the presenters mentioned an example of a staff member who was really nervous, and the support staff stayed with her in the background. He related how, after she saw all the studens were there, popped the headphones on, and started to talk - she lit up! She became bubbly and animated, and the technology faded into the backgound.

There were many technical issues, and one of the things that had to be worked on was building a trust relationship with Regional Hubs. Many of the problems revolved around IT units not allowing the communication tools to access through the firewalls, and this meant that students had to go home to access meetings. Some issues were around institutional infrastructure (including equipment problems and reliance on a third party infrastructure). Technical knowled in some institutions was at best patchy and there was some confusion between videoconferencing and web conferencing.Screenshot of a Microsoft Office Live Meeting ...Image via Wikipedia

The team approach was invaluable, but relied on buy in support from Wintec. The students (when it was working well) realised the value, and were really grateful that they didn't have to drive and travel to attend face-to-face sessions.

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