One of the topics for consideration in week 9 is the issue of sustainability as it relates to flexible learning. One of the resources we were pointed to was the blog of Samuel Mann who blogs about sustainability issues at Otago Polytechnic and is involved in coordinating the progress of this institution towards a ‘living campus’. Sam presents the following questions which were asked of departments around the Polytech and contributed to a wiki demonstrating the moves made towards sustainability. I was pleased to see that my own and Sarah Stewarts midwifery blogs were used as evidence of the the commitment of midwifery towards sustainability, along with a wiki on sustainability contributed by Lorna Davis.
1. What does it mean to be a sustainable practitioner in your field? (and what progress are you making towards this)
Midwifery has guardianship role in relation to low risk, normal birth. The midwifery profession is interested in ensuring interventions in childbearing are used appropriately and kept to minimum. Part of this role involves promoting and supporting breast feeding in the first year of life. Intervention free birth and breast feeding have health benefits for both the mother and her child and also involve less use of expensive resources and reduced waste.
2. How is this understanding being reflected in your programmes (Graduate profiles, learning outcomes etc)
Their is growing concern about sustainability of midwifery practice. Their is recognition that midwives are and aging workforce and that their is a looming midwifery shortage. It is necessary to increase the numbers of new midwives entering the profession and to support midwives to in areas of high need to meet the requirements of the three year degree program. Otago Polytechnic are now joining forces to provide a joint program which is South island wide, this will allow efficient use of resources. Students will also e able to remain in their local area for most of the three years of the program.
3. Evidence of how this is making a difference in teaching and learning.
In recent years the midwifery school a Otago Polytechnic has moved to delivering the theory component of the course in blocks. Some courses have developed as distance courses and others are delivered in blended design with some courses still taught exclusively face to face. We are now developing a new curiculum with courses designed to be delivered in a blended form. This will be different to the existing program which has developed in a more ad hoc fashion. We now have an opportunity to maximise student learning with more learner focus meeting the individual needs of students, midwives and their communities.