Sarah Stewart

Midwife, e-mentoring researcher and blogger, Sarah Stewart is working to encourage international communication using Creative Commons. Her website Sarah’s Musings is a valuable resource for anyone interested in health education and development, social networking tools and CC’s role in role Open Access at Otago Polytechnic.

Tell us a bit about your work, and what makes you want to create the things you do.
There are several aspects to my work:

  1. Personal: this is my blog and ePortfolio. This combines my reflections, learning and achievements/activities as a midwife, midwifery educator, researcher and PhD candidate. It also incorporates my personal family material such as my family photos on Flickr.
  2. Midwifery: this is the material I produce that may be of interest and value for pregnant women and their families. This is a very small area of my work compared to other areas.
  3. Education. I am a midwifery educator and I look at developing material with both a midwifery theme, as well as a web 2.0 theme. So I am learning about web 2.0 and social networking and passing that onto my students and the wider midwifery profession as I go along.
  4. PhD researcher. My research is looking into e-mentoring and how we can support health professionals once they are registered and out there in the real world.

So my work ranges from a personal blog post and photo about my day with my family to a slidecast on midwifery in New Zealand. Or an open access online education course.

Several things drive my work:

  1. my personal satisfaction, knowing I am creating material that captures people’s attention both in my immediate environment and all over the world. I love to know that it is of value elsewhere and is used to benefit other people’s learning;
  2. my own development and learning;
  3. my desire to be the best educator I can be and really engage with students and the wider midwifery profession;
  4. to promote web 2.0, social networking, CC and open access to the wider midwifery community because I believe it will really enhance and encourage international communication, collaboration, research and cooperation;
  5. be known as an early adopter and expert of web 2.0 in midwifery education and research, which will hopefully pay off in terms of my professional career development.

How did you find out about Creative Commons?
I didn’t know anything about CC until last year when I did a course run by Leigh Blackall at Otago Polytechnic: Facilitating online learning communities: http://online-learning-communities.blogspot.com/ This course introduced me to the concept of web 2.0 and social networking. For many years I have been interested in open access, web 2.0 etc before it was all given a fancy name.

My awareness of CC came gradually as I developed my blog and came to learn about Flickr. The whole issue of using people’s images on Flickr raised my awareness because I use Flickr all the time for my blog and in my teaching presentations. Leigh challenged me about my own use of CC on sites such as Flickr, YouTube, Slideshare and so on. I started off by having restricted CC ie people could only use my work if they attributed me and didn’t use it in a commercial way. But over the last couple of weeks I have been looking a lot more closely into open access and have realized that CC by attribution is the only way to go-why should I stop people using my material in education courses they are developing, if I am doing the same.

Why would anyone need to put a licence (full Copyright or Creative Commons) on creative work?
Until I became aware of CC, I was extremely unsure of what belonged to whom on the Internet. To me, everything was very unclear and opinions varied according to who you spoke to and what country and legislation they acted under. To my mind having a CC licence, whatever it is, clarifies for the reader/user exactly what they can or cannot do with your material – it ‘globalizes’ and simplifies copyright. As an academic, it is important that my work is not ‘stolen’ but that it is recognized by whoever is using it. Whilst I am extremely happy for people to use my work, having it attributed to me allows me to build my professional reputation, helps me find employment, helps me build a research portfolio and so on.

What does CC offer you that is beneficial in a digital format?
Digital format allows me to publish on the Internet which means my material has the potential to ‘go global’. That in turn means that people have access to my material in a way that has never happened before. Whilst I want to freely share my work, I do not want it to be used in an irresponsible way ie without proper and correct attribution. CC offers me that protection without forcing me into a structure that goes against my philosophy of open access, collaboration and participation.

How would you want people to view and/or use your work? What type of CC licence have you chosen?
As I have said before, I am extremely happy and honored that people use my work as long as I am attributed and people know how to contact me about my original work. In a way, it is free advertising for me and it also affirms that what I am thinking and doing is of value – it is giving my work credibility. So the licence I have chosen on all my work including my ePortfolio is CC by attribution.

Future directions?
My immediate plans are to finish collating my ePortfolio so it is in a really good state to show to students and the wider world. I am planning to develop some open access online midwifery courses in my role as senior lecturer in midwifery at Otago Polytechnic. My long term goal is to be an ‘expert’ and resource for midwives and midwifery educators, so they know they can come to me for information and advice about things like CC. With any luck, I might even get paid for it!?!

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