This post is taken from a comment I left on Sarah Stewart’s blog posting “How spontaneous and serendipitous can we be online”
I have been spending a great deal of time working at home on the new curiculum development. This is good use of my time, avoids a great deal of travel, and allows me to just get on with it. I do feel increasing isolated in this environment. I love that Sarah and I are connected through Skype and I am often able to spontaneously ask a question on text or have a voice chat online. I have also had the opportunity occasionally to ask other colleagues for help and advice in this way. I wish more of us were on Skype, or Gtalk. I too think these are important tools for students if they are going to be sitting at computers at home working on their course material. The really incongruous thing is the absolute importance in midwifery of the relationship between the woman and midwife and the importance of communication to this relationship. I value the ability to work at home but I have a much greater appreciation of the importance of communication and the need to provide students with opportunities to talk to each other. I agree with Pauline (infomidwife) that the range of IT communication resources can be overwhelming and risks students losing interest and not engaging because of this. I agree with free choice but wonder if we, who have a little knowledge of these resources, need to be somewhat directive. This would mean expecting students to use Skype or Gtalk and making sure that they all have contacts with each other through these resources.
I also really want students to blog about their learning experiences and would love to establish a blogging network. As a lecturer however I can see that this could significantly add to my work load. Keeping track of blog postings, considering how to respond and then making appropriate responses. Sarah has developed a really nice easy blogging style, I still struggle and postings seem to be taking me longer and longer to author as I struggle to get the language right. Making sure that students do not breach the confidentiality of women with whom they are working and are not making inappropriate comments about individual midwives practices is another concern and potentially time consuming as a lecturer. It is this aspect, workload, that makes me reluctant to pursue this too vigorously. I would love to know how lecturers who do have blogging networks with students find this. How does it fit into your general workload?
Image from shadowgate photos on flickr.com