The last two days have been spent accessing the resources and breaking out of my comfort zone around technologies for learning. In addition to this, I finally bit the bullet and bought an iPad, which I have been resisting for awhile now despite my colleagues' huge enthusiasm for them. But having gone there, I can see the amazing potential of this new tool (toy?) in both my role as a lecturer, and as a practising midwife.
Anyway, I've been exploring two 'trend technologies' in relation to my screening learning package. One has a small, direct connection, the other could be the 'thin edge of the wedge' of a much bigger prospect! On my new iPad, I found an app called "Quiz Creator" which can be used on mobile devices (phones, iPads etc), so have been thinking about creating a quiz which students could use to assess their knowledge about the different aspects of pregnancy screening 'on the go'. At present (and as discussed in a previous blog) students (and registered midwives) can go to the National Screening Unit website, enrol, and do a series of quizzes. Once they have completed the quizzes - and attained a minimum 80% pass rate- they can print a certificate, which for registered midwives has some professional development points attached for their recertification process.
"Quiz Creator" enables me to design a quiz with several different types of questions - multi-choice, mutliple answer, short answer etc, which the students can download, complete, and share with me (or share among themselves). Flexibility is increased in this scenario becasue the students can participate anywhere anytime, so there are no location or time boundaries for this formative learning activity. I guess the barrier to this might be if the student does not have access to a device which can support the quiz app, but it could be made available online through Moodle as well to accomodate those who only have Moodle access.
The second thing I have been exploring, and have actually grown quite excited about, is the idea of e-portfolios. (I know these are not new - but I have shied away from even thinking about them til now!). Mahara is a free e-portfolio package that has many great features: it is an Open Source package, interfaces with Moodle so students can conceivably login in either Moodle or Mahara and have links from one to the other. The e-portfolio enables students to create 'Views' (pages of content) that they can choose to share with no-one, their immediate classmates, their lecturer, or the world! They can upload documents, video, images, assessments. I can see that an e-portfolio would be a great way for student midwives to collate a permanent record of their experiences, reflections, assessments etc. They can also create social media sites within the portfolio, so they can communicate with one another (and therefore collaborate on group projects).
An e-portfolio could contain one View which relates to each component of their course, and in relation to screening for example, if they did the quizzes in the NSU website, they could upload their Certificate of Attainment into the Screening View, along with their reflections of practice experiences related to screening, they could upload relevant articles, or even video of themselves role-playing an informed-choice discussion about screening options with a classmate for assessment purposes, sharing it with a lecturer.
The e-portfolio links to many aspects of flexible learning - it is learner centred, time and location independent, the content can be whatever the student/ lecturer determines is necessary to meet the learning outcomes of the course, or indeed, the whole degree! I'm sold.