Saturday, May 25, 2013

2013 Childbirth Education Blog Carnival: The Blending and Balancing of High Touch and High Tech: A New Way of Learning

Welcome to Day #6 of the Blog Carnival honoring 
the International Week for Respecting Childbirth.  
We are focusing this Blog Carnival on the importance of childbirth education.

The Blending and Balancing of High Touch and High Tech:
A New Way of Learning
By Dianne Moran

My professional career began in 1974 and has been dedicated to helping, teaching and empowering expectant mothers and their partners.  As much as I have given of myself over the years, I am always surprised what I have received back two-fold.

A few years have passed since I began my career, but my passion for childbirth education is just as strong.  Every day I speak to colleagues who are worried about their jobs as prenatal, childbirth, breastfeeding and baby care educators.  They are fearful their departments will not survive cutbacks and budget woes.  They ask, "How do we get the higher-ups to understand that what we do is so important, not only to the community but to the hospital's bottom line"?  

We, as a group of passionate educators, need to rethink how we teach this new generation of expectant parents and that involves change.  Today's learners are much different than they were 40 years ago!  Not only do we have to change, but we also have to understand how this generation prefers to learn and get their information.  

Change is scary to all of us, however, as educators we have to step out of our comfort zones.  I do not want to see us losing “touch” with parents-to-be.  The basic information is the same, but it has to be taught differently in order to sustain their attention.  I believe now is the perfect time to blend high touch and high tech.  My goal and passion is to attract more participants and I truly believe with the ideas that float around in my head, it will!

Research tells us that Gen Y’ers are a group of people, used to exercising control.  They are experts at how they consume information.  They want to get in, get the information they desire and get out as quickly as possible.   Through research, I have learned:

This group:
  • Are digital natives where their parents are not
  • Have very short attention spans
  • Are resistant to lectures
  • Prefer instructors that are in action and not just talking
They prefer:
  • Visual stimulation
  • Creative thinking
  • Not to be locked in to straight lecture
  • Engaging, gaming activities
  • Sharing openly with others

So I had an "Aha!" moment…I was listening to Connie Livingston, a renowned researcher in the field of childbirth education, speak to educators about how we are losing that high touch aspect we all are passionate about as educators, to online learning and social media and how we are missing the mark with today’s learners.  Immediately a vision of bringing technology into the classroom setting came to me.  I saw each learner with their own device in the classroom, following along with the instructor.  They were involved and engaged because they had been provided with interactive tools.  They were using technology to learn and view evidence-based materials, along with information about their birthing facility.  It was at that moment I knew change was not only needed, but necessary!

I am piloting this idea in five prestigious facilities.  I want to know and understand from these learners, first hand, what they need to know and how they want to learn.  It will be interesting and I am up for the challenge to not only to learn for myself, but so I can share this valuable wisdom with my peers.

I know change is hard, but we have to keep reminding ourselves as educators, that is not about us – but those individuals we are so passionate about teaching.

Dianne Moran RN, LCCE, ICD is the manager of Program Development for Customized Communications Inc. where she develops new products for the company, which involves constantly learning new things, thinking of cutting-edge materials and programs, and acting as a visionary for the future success of the company. Her passion for what she does matches the passion of the women she talks with on a daily basis in the field of obstetrics. As a former labor and delivery nurse and childbirth educator, she can relate to my peers. Dianne loves to help them problem-solve and develop new and unique educational products for their patients.  One of Dianne's favorite roles with the company is traveling and meeting with the educators and managers at hospitals all over the country. There are special bonds and friendships made that have enriched her life as well as inspired her to continue strong in what she does: educate patients to enhance their lives.

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