I was intrigued by this title of a recent publication about twelve tips for using twitter in medical education.
We recently tested twitter as a way of interaction with medical students. Our number of students attending lectures have outgrown the number of places in one lecture room. Since years we us two lecture rooms, one with a video link so students can follow the lecture on screen. For this second lecture room but also for those attending the life lecture we introduced twitter as a way to pose questions. We introduced the twitter account at the start of the semester, via emails and at the lectures. We paused half way of the lecture to read the tweets from the computer screen and at the end of the lecture.
The interaction was disappointing. Students don’t need or want twitter for interaction.
In this publication the tips start with explanation of twitter and encouragement to start a twitter account as medical educator.
Set up a Twitter account for a specific class or group,set ground rules for use and promote guidelines for professional behaviour
The third tip above is a very good one. In the first lecture we had to warn some students who were posing irrelevant question. After some strong words these interfering tweets disappeared.Their next tip is to display live Twitter chat during lectures. We didn’t do this, we figured it would distract the students from the ongoing lecture.
Use Twitter as a platform to convey credible information sources to students
Most students use online information. Most of this information is hard to evaluate. Twitter can be used to credible information or information sources to students.
The next tip is to use Twitter to create a ‘real life’ context for students. Links to current media stories that relate to course content may allow students to contextualize course information and improve their learning motivation. Next tip is start a twibe. A twibe is a twitter group. A twibe can give students the opportunity to communicate outside of class. This could stimulate informal learning. Tip 8 is to use twitter for course feedback.
This format for course evaluations may have advantages over traditional methods. Students may feel more anonymity without feeling disconnected from the feedback they are giving.
Another suggestion is to use twitter for informal quizzes and polls.This offers options for informal quizzing and polls when compared to a show of hands. Questions can be projected on a screen, and students can Tweet their answers.Because Tweets can be anonymous, more students are likely to submit answers.
Obviously as also suggested by the authors, the use of twitter in (medical) education should be explored further, most preferably in research.
Forgie SE, Duff JP, & Ross S (2013). Twelve tips for using Twitter as a learning tool in medical education. Medical teacher, 35 (1), 8-14 PMID: 23259608