Beating the Open Access Drum

Sarah Stewart has blogged about a meeting with midwives from Pakistan and the exchange of ideas that occurred in this online meeting. I expect these midwives discovered her through her Blog? It seems to me that reaching the wider audience is one of the great things about blogging. I wonder if any of these midwives blog?

I think it is exciting to explore midwifery in other contexts. Perhaps in the future their might be resources we can share which will be beneficial for anyone. For example the Christchurch medical school have a lovely interactive animation about pharmacology.  There are many videos that apply to clinical midwifery some of which I have linked in the Wiki I have created for midwifery. Certainly we need always to be aware of the context of midwifery practice. We cannot assume that what we do and teach here will be of any benefit at all to midwives in other countries. None the less I am sure that there is a great deal of material that is relevant. Reflecting on difference is a useful learning activity and, If the resource does not exactly match the situation in another country, the midwives or students can reflect on that and discuss it. If we provide material online with a creative commons license which allows them to use and adapt the material to their own needs then this would be even better. They can then take the  material and make if fit their own situation.

We are fortunate in Otago Polytechnic that our management support us to do this.  Their are no barriers to us producing and creating online freely available courses and course material. Our education development centre have led the way with the course I am currently enrolled in, Design for Flexible Learning Practice and others. The challenge is therefore ours. How do we make this a reality within our own discipline?

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  1. Actually, Rafat knew me from the Midwifery Research email list. So I am not at all sure that midwives are getting the word from blogs. My blog has been advertised quite extensively through midwifery channels but it has made very little difference to my reader numbers or the number of comments left on my blog. Mind you, that may be because it doesn’t interest midwives, which is another story.

    I do wonder if we’re wasting our time with open access. Do midwives really want it? Do we know? Do we care? Or is this just one lovely great experiment that has sucked us in, but really it only has worth for one or two of us? All this – web 2.0 – is just one big con that you and I have fallen for?

    Yours cheerfully, Sarah

  2. if you’re not doing it for yourself primarily, then stop now. Obsessing over what others should and shouldn’t, do and don’t do.. leads to sefl doubt in the end.

    If expressing yourself openly online doesn’t motivate you to learn more about yourself and about online communication, then why would you bother?

    And the so called ‘web 2’ has little to do with the question of open access. I think it would be a good personal learning challenge for Sarah and others to remove the term web 2 from their discourse. From my own experience, the term is inaccurate and leads us to lazy generalizations and being non specific in our communication.

    But most of this response so far has been to Sarah’s comment.

    Regarding developing an open access midwifery course.. I think it is very promising to see the international interest which may lead to interesting things like guest teachers, student exchange programs, research projects – all of which are made more likely with easy and open access to what we are referring to… but international can take a very long time to mature.

    International aside, I wonder if your consideration of open access is taking into account the possibilities for local students?

    Open access removes a small but sometime significant barrier to your students. They no longer require a user name and password to start participating in your courses. Even if all the paper work IS in order, we’ve all experienced the delays and technical problems trying to get usernames and passwords running.

    NZers with an interest in Midwifery could at anytime take a look at the course materials. From that they could try to informally learn, or at least familiarise themselves with the content, which may help them to build confidence to formally enroll.

    Past students also, could always refer back to the course for a refresh or an update on a particular area of study.

    And friends and relatives, parents and researchers can all take a look inside the study of midwifery and see what its all about.

    What’s the alternative again? Does closed access give anything like these things?

  3. I agree about web 2.0. I do think the term can be confusing. My understanding of this term is that it is about online communities and the links that have been forged between people with common interests. Instead of having to search for new information on a topic we can now be easily updated on new information as it is published through feeds that come directly to us. This has been facilitated through tools such as google (in all its many forms), delicious, blogroll (which I have never had success with),facebook, etc etc.

    I am becoming more and more comfortable with the idea of having learning resources open and freely available for potential students and for those with an interest in the topic. However I am in a minority. In midwifery we are now going to be developing learning objects to support students learning both face to face and at a a distance. It seems a great pity to me that we cannot share these and make them freely available. Yes it will cost us a significant amount of money to develop them but surely, having spent that money we should then want them to be available to the widest possible audience. But this is a huge step to take and much to large a step at the moment. It just will not happen.

    A first step in this direction would be to develop one of the courses we offer to registered midwives to be delivered through open sources. Sarah prepared a paper on this recently I may take this further and work on this as part of this DFLP course.

  4. Hi Leigh, thanks for the kick up the bum – was having a grumpy, self-doubting moment for a while.

    I am totally committed to open access, particularly to the local NZ population of midwives. Ironically, the interest in my program of open seminars ( has come from an international audience rather than local midwives. So a lot more work is required to spread the word to NZ midwives. I am sure that our new undergraduate program will ‘force’ midwives to think more about online communication -they’ll have to get involved through the students they work with.

    As for my comment about this being one big experiment, what are your thoughts on that, Leigh?


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