Monday, 28 May 2012

Activity Nine – Sustainable Flexible Learning

The Otago Polytechnic sustainability vision is that our graduates, our practitioners and our academics understand the concepts of social, environmental and economic sustainability in order for them to evaluate, question and discuss their role in the world and to enable them to make changes where and when appropriate.  Our goal is that every graduate may think and act as a “sustainable practitioner”.      
Education for sustainability
“All new programmes under development are required to contain EFS content and process. An OP ‘graduate profile’ across all disciplines will now include being action competent as a sustainable practitioner in their field”.
I would like to introduce the concept of mentorship and professional supervision not just for graduates but for midwives in practice ongoing as a module focused on ongoing professional development for midwives participating in return to practice education.  These support systems may help in prevention of burnout and therefore sustainability in practice. I believe this is in keeping with the strategic goal for OP mentioned. Sustainability has to be about more than just about recycling and reducing waste but also a bigger picture of not allowing our workforce to end up on the ‘scrap heap’ after all a lot of resources went into their education. We can essential assist in recycling midwives!
This article would be an interesting for me to put in the preparation for standards reviews courses recommended reading in encouragement of professional development and reflection.
Lennox, S., Skinner, J., & Fourer, M. (2008). Mentorship, preceptorship and clinical supervision: Three key processes for supporting midwives. New Zealand College of Midwives(39), 7-11.
Here are some important concepts I would like to introduce:-
“The mentoring relationship is one of negotiated partnership between two registered midwives. Its purpose is to enable and develop professional confidence. Its duration and structure is mutually defined and agreed by each partner. A mentor listens, challenges, supports and guides another midwife’s work. A mentor does not always give answers but encourages the mentored midwife to research, explore and reflect on her practice. The mentored midwife remains responsible and accountable for her own practice in accordance with statutory obligations of a registered midwife” (NZCOM 2000 as cited in Gray, 2006, p. 24).
Gray, E. (2006). Midwives as mentors [corrected] [published erratum appears in NZ COLL MIDWIVES J 2006 Oct; 35:9]. New Zealand College of Midwives Journal, 34, 24-27.
An important tenant of mentorship appears to be self reflection. This enables a midwife to determine her own areas of strength and weakness. As a facilitator in this process the mentor helps the midwife make connections. A mentor is not a passive listener, they can challenge, validate and explore area’s of development together (Bloom, 1995).
Bloom, M. (1995). Multiple Roles of the Mentor supporting Women's Adult Development. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education(65), 63-72.
Within my own employment setting it would be good to explore the benefits of formalised support networks as part of employment conditions as the sounding board of a good ear never goes astray in maintaining job satisfaction 
Regards Fee

A bit more research to add to the post about sustainability 

 “All new programmes under development are required to contain EFS content and process. An OP ‘graduate profile’ across all disciplines will now include being action competent as a sustainable practitioner in their field”.

Strategy 2008 – 2012
Our Distinctive Contribution to Applied Teaching and
Learning and Research
􀂾We inspire capability
􀂾 We build capability
􀂾 We are a learner centred organisation
􀂾 We act with integrity and are guided by:
• Our respect for people
• Our respect for the environment
• Our respect for Kai Tahu as tangata whenua
• Our engagement with our communities
• Our willingness to be accountable

Our Strategic Goals
By 2012 we will:
4. Lead the tertiary sector as a socially responsible and sustainable organisation,
and in education for sustainability.
Success indicators:
• A benchmark for sustainable organisation practices
• Strongest uptake in the sector of learners engaged in sustainability
• Learners report “sustainability” as a reason for studying with us
• Reduction of environmental footprint
• Organisational practices meet ILO and UN conventions and declarations
(adopted by NZ)
All 8 of Otago Polytechnics priorities to achieve strategic goals link to sustainability. References are made to important sustainability concepts e.g. flexibility, staff retention, research, creativity, innovation, community engagement and treaty integration (i.e. partnership, participation & protection, guardianship rather than ownership is a cultural perspective that gives us intergenerational responsibilities). These are all tenants that can help us be respectful or the resources we use and our general environmental impact.


  1. Fee I really like the connections you have made to the sustainable practice of using "mentorship and professional supervision" for midwives in the community. Also, "it would be good to explore the benefits of formalised support networks as part of employment conditions ...".

    I would like to know how you think that being part of a support network in your role would help you to be a more sustainable practitioner? For example, this could give you better opportunities for collaboration and sharing, and prevent 're-inventing the wheel' types of practices. Often knowing who to ask for help is the biggest challenge.

    You could also consider joining networks outside your discipline, especially if you are wanting to explore others' approaches to teaching and learning. And don't forget that one of the principles of open education practice is to share resources, and this links in nicely to sustainable practice because you can save yourself myriads of time, and may also find richer and more innovative resources than you could possibly create.

    How do these suggestions fit with your thinking around sustainability?

  2. Yes framworks seem very important in keeping practitioners sustainable. As a new employee I was asigned a mentor but was unsucessful in negotiating professional supervision within my employment contract. An outside perspective can certinally keep things fresh and assist in the all important networking. Regards Fiona