This past week I posted my first tweet.
I feel like an old man writing “how I walked uphill both ways to school in 5ft of snow”. For many of you, I’m sure I sound like I may have just recently adopted electricity and the wheel…but I figured I should join the masses and test out this “new” technology.
I’m not sure what’s taken me so long to move to the Twitterverse but part of me was still trying to figure out its utility. I guess I wasn’t so sure how I could use something such as Twitter…especially since all my entire impression of the technology was that it existed as a bulletin board for the latest celebrity breakups, hookups or feuds. I figured a few episodes of Entertainment Tonight should suffice as a Twitter replacement and I wouldn’t need this new technology…
However, I thought that there must be some way this can be effective within medicine…I’ve come across some physicians in Toronto who’ve started to use it. So before joining I followed along for a little bit to see how they used it. They often tweeted about new articles or cutting edge technologies…it seemed quite up to date and a great way to follow all that was new in medicine!
Then I came across a great article that was just published in Medical Teacher by a few medical educators in Calgary. They summarized 12 Tips for using Twitter in medical education. For anyone who teaches or is involved in medical education I highly recommend reading this paper. It provides practical reasons for Twitter and nicely summarizes how it has been described in the medical literature!
Not trying to steal the thunder of the authors but wanting to share a few of their tips…In the spirit of the wiki mindset which now pervades our consciousness, I’ve posted a few below. Enjoy!
I’ve picked the ones I thought were best and added a few comments or paraphrased the authors.
- Use a twitter account for a specific class or group: be sure to set some ground rules so that learners will have a framework for the discussion
- Use a live Twitter chat in your next lecture: I’ve been to a few lectures recently where this was done and it’s really quite interesting. What’s especially cool is if people from outside the classroom tweet a comment! The beauty is that they can be anywhere else in the world. If you’re using it for questions, it might be best to only open it up near the end of the lecture or at least only post it on the projector during a dedicated time as it may serve as distraction rather than an effective tool.
- Tweet key resources or new literature for your students to use and read: This is an excellent way to flip the classroom. Have them follow along and get them the material before class so that they can read it, digest it then come to class or academic day and discuss & analyze it. Or simply provide a resource for them to access the latest articles that you’re reading.
- Use twitter for real-time feedback: If you can make it anonymous this could be pretty cool. It could be posted in real-time at the end of the lecture or course. Though the logistics of creating anonymous usernames may limit its utility…unless they’re ok with identifiable responses.
- Maximize the power of Twitter with emphasis efficient communication: Twitter’s benefits include having only 140 characters to post high yield information. Use this to your advantage in teaching your students concise summaries for case presentations, etc…
- Twitter as a tool for self & group reflection: I love this idea. I think it presents a novel way to gather feedback and one which many learners are comfortable using.
- Informal polls & quizzes: I think this is a good option though there may be a better app out there called Socrative which I’ve blogged about previously.
- Use it as subject for further study: There’s little out there regarding this topic and could be an outstanding resident research project! I definitely agree with the authors that further study is needed. Most importantly the authors specifically state that valuable studies would not compare Twitter to no intervention but rather evaluate how best to integrate this powerful technology.
I’m looking forward to seeing Twitter become increasingly used and studied within medical education! How will you use it?
Source: SE Forgie et al. Twelve tips for using Twitter as a learning tool in medical education. Medical Teacher 2012 [Epub ahead of print]