I know I have not finished this course yet and I am definitely dragging the chain here. I will get to the final part of this very soon promise.
Image Open door. From Hagit’s photos on flickr.com
One reason for the delay is that I have already enrolled in, and I am participating in another course through Otago Polytechnic. This one is Constructing Courses to Enhance Learning in Midwifery and I cannot give you a link to this course as, unlike the two other similar courses I have participated in over the last year, this one is closed. It is delivered entirley through the moodle learning management system.
The first course, along this line, that I participated in was Facilitating Online Communities. This course was an enormous amount of work for me, but mostly I was self driven as I enjoyed it so much. It opened up my eyes to the possibilities for open access to educational material. This was not totally new or foreign to me. As a rural midwife I often bemoaned the tantalising tit bits of information that could be accessed for free, from midwifery and medical journals, and then you are asked for an enormous some of money, for an article that is quite possibly of no real relevance. I was very enthusiastic when I discovered Biomed Central and Rural and Remote Health journals which send email alerts of their articles and give full access to everyone for free, Wonderful!! So I was very open to open access. I started blogging and got a bit carried away with that from time to time. I enjoyed sharing learning with others and learned about RSS feeds to keep track of everyone. I also learned about del-ici-ous and other Web 2.0 social networking tools. So many things that I truly do not believe I could have learned had the learning not been open and accessible with all the potential that the world wide web has to offer.
The next course I engaged with is this one Designing for Flexible Learning Practice, which is taking me longer to get through and is a bit more of a struggle for me, not because it is any less interesting but because I had to take a break in the middle and so have lost that sense of community that I believe drives one forward and inspires one to keep going and explore. Also my soul mate in the previous course dropped out of this one, how sad :(. She is now flying high in lots of other directions and I am left plodding on. None the less the learning I have achieved through this course has also been quite amazing I think. And I do think the openness of the course contributes to that for me. I like communicating with others through a blog. When I blog I am writing for myself and my own learning but happy to share that with others too. I do not find the moodle discussion groups or other moodle communication tools, at least those I am so far aware of, as liberating for me. I feel constrained and do not want to explore too much as I am aware that others are being forced to look at what I am writing in this shared learning space. In my blog, I can write what I like, others can read it if they like, it is just a totally different concept.
In the open access courses I felt quite happy to use open access resources such as slideshare to share my learning with the group or anyone else, and for presenting my work. I am not concerned about it being out in the WWW. If people find my work useful and applicable to their situation, fine. If not they can leave it alone. Yes, I need to make sure my work is based on the best available evidence, wherever that evidence exists. I am acutely aware that my writing may somehow reflect on my institution, who are the first Polytechnic in the world to have embraced an open access policy to staff work, something of which I am very proud. I am free to publish my work wherever I wish and to make it as open and available as I desire. I have been storing several of the resources I am developing in slideshare.
As I have been working towards the development of the new curriculum for undergraduate midwifery education I have become aware of the discomfort and distrust of others toward and open environment for midwifery education. Despite this I have found it to be enormously helpful to have access to the open resources that others have made freely available on line such as this. I retain a belief that we should be as open with our edcuational material as we can be. I will continue to work towards this as a personal goal. Open access definitely suits something in my personality, which I believe is open and honest and some would say is too open and honest. I know that openness leaves many feeling uncomfortable and unable to contribute and for this reason perhaps it will take a long time before we see a broad policy of open access in midwifery education in New Zealand.