All posts by Jenny Foster RN/MPH/CNM/PhD

About Jenny Foster RN/MPH/CNM/PhD

I am a nurse-midwife and an anthropologist, and my passion is improving the health of women and their babies globally. I walk on the borders of different disciplines: nursing, midwifery, anthropology, public health. Much of the work I have done globally has been in Latin America or the Caribbean.

Foster M8 Where I have been and where I am going

This course has been a tremendous learning experience for me. Also, it has humbled me, because I have not mastered all the material. This is how it is for students, who like me, have all kinds of other commitments. But my biggest take home from this course is that I am much more appreciative of the educational rigor that online courses could be. I think the early emphases that we paid to the role of the social and community components necessary for good online courses was really eye opening. To tell you the truth, as a newcomer to online education, I thought it was just voice over powerpoints, incredibly ineffective. But there is a detailed attention to the learning outcomes, which I feel has helped my f2f classes. I did learn the value of getting to know each other, in terms of engaging with the course.

I have a very specific need – to help launch an online postmaster’s curriculum in midwifery by the end of December 2015. It is not exclusively up to me, but I am a key player. And I want it to work, and to be really good. I have entered the world of online learning and teaching. I still feel like a novice, though. But it has been great, thank you to Stephanie and to Leah, and all the classmates.

Module 8 Foster comments on UDL

  1. In your own words, describe your interpretation of accessibility and Universal Design for Learning (UDL), include the three networks in your brief response.

There are three elements in the UDL which are processed in different parts of the brain of the learner. First, there is the content or information that must be learned, and UDL stresses that this information should be presented in different ways since students learn in such different ways – this learning is processed from the posterior part of the brain. The second is the how of learning, the action and expression. This calls on the teacher to differentiate the ways learners can express what they know. This comes from the frontal lobe of the brain. Finally there is the affective component, the why of learning, how to stimulate interest and motivation. This is how to stimulate engagement.


  1. Describe a few things that you think you could do to increase accessibility in your classes. (It’s a work-in-progress, do not feel like it’s something that will happen all at once).

Although my classes already have a number of different ways of assessing student learning, (quizzes, tests, papers, presentations, narration), I never thought about trying to represent the information in different ways. Student clinical experiences are designed to allow students to apply what they are learning, but often this cannot be accomplished completely because one doesn’t have control over the exact kinds of experiences they can have. Of late in the health professions, we have been using simulation. This adds a kinesthetic component to learning, and it allows practice. I think I could take the same content and offer different ways to approach it. But this means we would need to try not to cover so much material. Another issue is offering more choice. So if people didn’t succeed on a test, there would be another assessment of another kind and we could pick the best of the two. As my students are HIGHLY motivated by grades, hey will go to great lengths to get a better grade.

  1. What are some questions that you have about this topic?

I find this topic interesting, but also daunting. For example, I have seen where you post things in Bb, as well as VT. I can get the information in different places. This is because some students may do better in one form than another. I had never considered this before, I always figured I had to learn whatever form was required of the course. My biggest question is if you really implement different ways of representing material, different ways of expressing it via student activities, and offering more choice, then you can offer less volume of content, no? I don’t see how you could offer the same amount of content. Maybe for online you could, because it just means lots more planning. But face2face it seems harder to do.

Foster on OERs – useful for creativity which inspires engagement

I heard about OERs when my Emory faculty colleagues Erin Lepp and Weihua Zhang encouraged me to join their team last May to learn about OERs. I was so busy I could not attend all the sessions, so I only understood it piecemeal. But now we are committed to completing an OER about service learning and community engaged learning for Emory, or elsewhere. I am still sort of flying in the dark as we develop it.

So I ended up choosing the Hewlett Foundation Database from the Read+Resources area. In their OERs that are about global development, I found an OER about unsafe abortion that would serve  very well for my maternity as well as my birth and global health class. This is the link:

I can see students viewing them, making them, remixing them, as long as they follow the licensing rules by Creative Commons. There is a lot of room for creativity while learning.

I have used Course Reserves for students to link to important readings. But I have not paid much attention in the f2f classes regarding videos or images. I know for the online environment this would need to change.

I am excited to encourage everyone including myself to use the Creative Commons databases. But this is new shift for me, so I will keep at it.

Foster Module 4 Using scholarblogs to promote transformation from andragogy to heutragogy

Learning-Centered Assessment: After reading the provided resources on self-evaluated and self-directed heutagogical learning, describe your initial thoughts about designing an entire online/blended course or even just an assignment around these ideas/methods. Will you (or have you) consider these approaches? Why or why not? If so, briefly outline your idea(s). The resources that were provided to you were just a start. Feel free to research more to gain additional traction on these types of assessment.

Here is my thinking about this. I will first summarize a new term for me: heutagogical learning.

Andragogy is the educational theoretical underpinning of the self-directed learner; heutagogy is the educational underpinnings of the self-determined learner. The facilitator is still a mentor and tutor, but there is a difference: The facilitator surrenders the learning path to the learner, who determines what will be learned and how it will be learned. In heutagogy, there are two components, competence and capability. So, not only is the knowledge acquired, but also the learners develop confidence that that they will have the capability to identify and solve the discipline-specific problems they are learning about, but to apply them in multiple and unfamiliar settings. Competent learners have specific knowledge and skills. Capable learners can reproduce knowledge and skills in unfamiliar settings. This is what is needed in complex and changing work environments, such as nursing, which is changing so fast in a complex environment.


So there is a continuum, with pedagogy requiring the most structure and scaffolding, building to andragogy, to heutagogy, needing the least scaffolding of all.

So I am in the process of developing an online/blended course for graduate nurses who are seeking to become advanced practice nurses, specifically nurse-midwives. This is part of a post-master’s certificate in nurse-midwifery that we are endeavoring to develop within the School of Nursing at Emory.  As graduate students, I think that our students will be self-directed (-based on the current face-to-face cohort-). Yet as a group, they will not necessarily be self-determined, except for some of them. But perhaps the whole point is to seek to transform the self-directed ones to be more self-determined.

There is a delicate balance to maintain however. Students need to master certain core knowledge, skills, and attitudes to achieve the core competencies of midwifery education. They must pass a national certification exam at the end of their program in order to be eligible to practice as a nurse-midwife. I do think assignments can be crafted to encourage self-determined learning, as long as it has boundaries that require students to explore with the goal of the basic core competencies that they need to master. I think scholarblogs would be an excellent tool.

There is an interesting article I will add to diigo that discusses how blogs encourage self-directed learning as well as personal information management. How to encourage self-determined learning is based on facilitating a process where learners truly feel the   freedom to master the objectives in their own way. Here is the link  about blogging and self-directed learning (the transition to self-determined can be built with assignments asking them to think in more complex ways:

So students can be given boundaries. Make the objectives very clear what they need to master. But they can explore how to do this in a variety of ways and then need to write in Scholarblogs about what they are doing and how they might share it in other unfamiliar contexts. This would be an ongoing process throughout the course.