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Midwifery training: Bridging the gap between practice and theory with social video

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Birth situations – almost every mother (and father) can remember them for the rest of their lives. The emotions associated with this memory – strength, love, tenderness or fear, shame, helplessness – can be shaped to a large extent by the people present.

How do expectant midwives learn empathic communication? The reality in practice is often very complex and in practise is little time for reflection. Additionally the practice situation often differs from what is presented as „correct“ in academic classrooms based on scientific studies. How can the learning spaces of the university and the application situation be linked in a didactically meaningful way?

The short answer is: through blended learning with role-playing and decelerated reflection phases with social video. What can this look like? We tested this in the Baby Buddy Communicator project, a small Erasmus Plus project led by the NGO Birth Forward, with the Technical University of Cyprus and the Charité in Berlin

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Cascade model: train-the-trainer plus implementation in two cycles with adaptations

In the „Train-the-Trainer“ kick-off, the teaching staff of the midwifery training programme at the Cyprus University of Technology and the Charité actively dealt with „Competence-oriented blended learning with social video“ (Activity 1). Guided and supported by Ghostthinker, the blended learning course took place over five months in a very project-orientated manner, i.e. the participants developed their own course concept step by step with feedback loops. The developed course concept was then trialled in practice. The teaching staff at the university (the learners from Activity 1) now took on the role of teachers themselves in the form of a communication course for midwifery mentees (Activity 2). An interesting aspect of the course in Cyprus was the collaboration with the NGO Birth Forward, which developed very realistic scenes with parents and trained actors for them. Involving service users (in this case parents) in healthcare training is very new in this area.

In the third blended learning event, a training course for expectant midwives took place in cooperation with teachers and practice instructors and the NGO in Cyprus (Activity 3).

Figure: Cascade model of implementation with increase in involvement and competences by groups

Infographic BBC English
Abbildung: Kaskadenmodell der Implementierung mit Zuwachs an Involviertheit und Kompetenzen nach Gruppen

Central to the Acticity 2 and 3 courses with the trainers and students was the practice of simulated communication situations with actresses in realistic scenarios, which were prepared in cooperation with the NGO Birth Forward (parent representatives). These realistic role plays were videotaped, reflected on with video comments, then discussed with peer and expert feedback and finally practised repeatedly.

Transfer into practice

What stands out from the work in the three courses over the course of a year are the reflections of the participants in the form of blog posts at the end of the courses. All of them describe the effects at different levels and how they succeeded in applying what they had learnt. The effects within the teams are also interesting, on the one hand in the university, among the teachers, but also among the trainers (practice supervisors) in practice (personnel and organisational development).

One trainer reported how her colleagues approached her because they could observe such a positive change. Another trainer was so impressed by the peer feedback in the course that she introduced it into existing team meetings.

Anonymous feedback on the BBC project

Until today I was under the impression that I had very good communication knowledge and skills, until I got involved in this project, where I’ve realized how many issues we still need to learn and develop as professionals in order to become effective in our daily communication.


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Finally I would like to say that this course has enabled me to understand better the developmental needs of HCP in Cyprus and appropriate ways to approach these needs. It was truly emotional to see how a 6 week course has enabled people to grow, change their perspective about personal and professional development and move towards this growth mindset through team feedback and personal reflection.


These 5 weeks have changed the way I approach every woman. I see a big difference in how I deal with every situation.

Mentor midwife

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It was an unprecedented experience and a different way of learning, outside the framework in which we are used to learning.


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