Sunday, August 23, 2015


I have mentioned for several years now how social media has been able to impact how I teach, and how others learn in medicine.  It has been an incredible journey to see, as I have met many folks virtually whom I would otherwise never meet.

It is also amazing how quickly information can be spread via social media.  Sometimes, this can be bad, but other times, it can be very good.  A great example of advocacy within medicine began earlier this month, with a tweet from a surgeon-in-training, Dr. Heather Logghe (@LoggheMD).  A blog which began this campaign describes early successes.  This campaign continues to grow, and has amassed an incredible number of tweets and impressions.  It is so refreshing to see stereotypes broken down, and to see the human side behind these incredible physicians.  I've never met Heather, but as a residency program director, I am impressed!

I got to thinking: the #meded hashtag (for medical education) has really taken off over the past few years due to my colleague, Dr. Ryan Madanick from the University of North Carolina, and includes a weekly tweetchat and many other tweets at any time.  #meded has even been described in the peer-reviewed literature (here and here).  How about highlighting some of the amazing medical educators out there who enjoy teaching medicine (at any level)?

So here goes: #ITeachMedicine is starting today with this blog.  Please distribute to all of those dedicated teachers who make medicine and the teaching of and within it a wonderful profession! I am a #meded ‘er, and #ITeachMedicine !!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Etiquette for Live Tweeting at Conferences

Recently, I published a paper on the topic of “Tweeting the Meeting”, along with Dr. Janine Zee-Cheng.  In that paper, we briefly discussed the topic of etiquette with respect to tweeting during conferences.  I came across this piece from a few days ago in Nature about conference tweeting.  The blog piece describes two options for the “default” at meetings.  Should the default be that tweeting is allowed (unless the speaker explicitly asks attendees not to) or that tweeting is NOT allowed (unless the speaker gives explicit permission to do so)?  I am not sure of the right answer for this, but given how common this has become, I believe that conference organizers should actively discuss this option when planning meetings, and make the default answer explicit as possible.

A problem might ensue when the default is that it is allowed, but individual speakers who know very little about Twitter are upset when they find their content disseminated via this social network.  It begs the question that guidelines or policies really should be created and disseminated to potential presenters at the time that those presenters submit their abstracts.

I wonder how many scientific associations have formal policies about this topic, and if they do, how is that policy disseminated prior to meetings?  Maybe this is an area ripe for more research, and one that should be discussed among those who plan scientific conferences.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Learning Theory and Social Media

I read this really interesting piece on learning theory for medical educators interested in the use of social media.  The authors hint that it is really important for educators to consider an understanding of learning theory when integrating social media into the learning process.  I agree wholeheartedly for many reasons.  

First, after having given a recent grand rounds (to two separate audiences) on the topic of learning theory in medical education and how technology can help, I feel that it is very important to reflect on these theories for a better understanding of why learners use (or don't use) social media and other emerging technology.  Communities of practice (CoPs) are a great way to bring groups of people together around a common theme, and virtual/electronic CoPs are catching on in medicine and medical education.

Second, it is important, as the authors mention, to consider connectivism and constructivism as key theories behind why some learn with social media (and may prefer to learn via such tools).  Using constructivism, learners should be reflective, and the teacher needs to adopt a facilitative approach (instead of being an "expert").

For the educators out there who are integrating social media into your learning methods, which theory or theories reflect why you use social media or how your learners use social media?