Social media

What did I learn from #FOAMed yesterday

I loved this series of tweets that appeared in my Twitter timeline this morning from Nick Smith.  Great to see #FOAMed in action and a super example to refer to and quote in workshops on #FOAMed and the role of social media in supporting and enhancing medical education.

Many thanks to Nick for sharing his #FOAMed learning points.  Vive la FOAM!!

AMEE 2013 #FOAMed Workshop

Today I’m running a workshop on #FOAMed with at AMEE 2013, along with my colleagues Annalisa Manca and Ellie Hothersall from Dundee and Laura-Jane Smith from UCL.  We’ll be giving a brief introduction to the growing movement of Free Open Access Medical Education #FOAMed.  We’ll be asking our participants to identify if if they are already using elements of FOAMed and how.  Annalisa is going to go over some of the educational theories that are at play in FOAMed and then Ellie and LJ will be demonstrating how they’ve adopted elements of FOAMed to support undergraduate teaching and in particular how they’ve used to Twitter to support teaching in public health and case-based discussions. We’ll also highlight some of the other FOAMed activities that are going a cross the continuum of education before we get our groups to look at how they might design a #FOAMed approach to some learning scenarios that we’ve come up with.

The slides from our session are here and there’s also a handout that I’ve put together with a brief intro to FOAMed, some examples, information on tools that can form part of a FOAMed toolkit and some tips taken from comments left by some of the FOAMed community on my last post.

#DundeePRN Twitter case discussions kicking off tonight

dundeeprnThree years ago a group of our 2nd year students set up DundeePRN – Medicine for students as and when required.  This website was a wealth of useful information for students and proved popular.  Once the students hit 4th year and busy clinical attachments, DundeePRN went into a hibernation.  This year there have been a number of conversations about raising PRN from it’s slumber and using PRN to showcase #FOAMed resources developed by Dundee medical students and most recently as a hub for some twitter case discussions.

Tonight at 8pm we kick off our first #dundeeprn twitter case discussion an idea that has come from converastions with one of Year 2 students, Iona Campbell, an active participant in #twitfrg and #ukmeded chats. The chats have enthusiastic support from a number of teaching staff, (some have already been writing cases for future chats) and also from active tweeting students across a number of years.  We’ve pitched the #dundeeprn chats to other students as an opportunity to support some revision and hopefully as the weeks go by we’ll see more joining in.  As with any twitter chat the #dundeeprn are not in any way exclusive and medical students and doctors from other institutions are very welcome to join in, so if you’re free tune in and join in the conversation.

Our kick off case comes from an old GI study guide which has lots of questions, and you can take a look at it on google docs.  This isn’t a typical case in the way that #twitfrg would present a case but we hope it will be a way of easing students into a twitter chat.  Future cases will have a more familiar format and the plan is that whilst staff may contribute some that students will also prepare cases for future weeks.  We’ll be posting the cases on our DundeePRN website together with storify’s of the dicussion so that students can review the cases.  We’re hoping to make DundeePRN public again so that we can share it more widely with the medical education commuity and will keep you posted on developments.






Update on using Google+ in an elearning themed SSC

Google+_2A few weeks ago I blogged about how I was using Google + (G+) with a group of SSC students.  I shared some initial reflections following the first week of the SSC, which involved five students who had opted to develop an elearning related project.  The SSC finished last week and as promised here’s an update on how it fared over the 4 weeks.

I had a super group of well motivated students, and they all engaged with the G+ community.  My colleague Annalisa Manca also joined the group. After the group was set up, and everyone had joined, G+ was our main means of communication, there was only the odd email, and these didn’t relate directly to the SSC.

Over the course of the SSC we used the G+ community:

To share resources including sites that were useful sources of creative images and icons, such as Wellcome Images, Noun Project and examples of #FOAMed resources such as Anatomy Zone, Hand Written Tutorials and the One minute medical school. This was useful as I could share resources intermittently rather than bomarding everyone at the start of the SSC and overwhelming them with too much information at once.

To arrange meetings – we used the events feature to arrange our group meet ups and confirm availability.

For support – Four of the students were using Artiuclate Storyline to develop online resources. Storyline is a great tool but like Articulate Studio it’s buggy and can be very frustrating and the students had issues using it.  They posted problems in G+, where it wasn’t clear what the issue was we suggested using Screenr to show us. The students also posted and shared some Articulate Screenr tutorials that they had found useful.

We didn’t use the Hangouts as we tended to meet up together a couple of times a week to review progress and share developments.  Had the snow been worse and getting into the medical school been an issue we might have used them.

The students were all positive about using G+.  Using the G+ mobile apps made it particularly easy to respond to posts and comments. I realised for the first time that the iPhone app included an instant messenger, which one of the group used a couple of times with me.  G+ wasn’t used at the expense of face-to-face interaction, the students still popped in to to ask things and check things and hire out equipment.

As well as G+ we also introduced the students to a few other tools and tips, which they were enthusiastic about.  These included:

  • Skitch – they loved this for labelling illustrations, diagrams etc
  • Google Docs and Google Drive – this was new to most of them, some used it for sharing their log books and reflections with the group, others used the forms to run quick surveys amongst their peers to guide their projects
  • Screenr – for highlighting problems they were having with Articulate
  • Pinterest – for organising and tracking creative commons images used in their resources and ensuring that appropriate attribution could be given
  • Dropbox  – was new to all but one of the students, who was quick off the mark in sending invites to the rest of the group to get more storage.  We also introduced them to SugarSync which gives you 5Gb of storage for free.
  • Google power searching tips, which proved very popular.

I felt that using G+ helped to foster a richer group dyanamic than I’ve seen in previous SSCs where students and I have met together as a group but communication in between has relied on email.  All the students developed fantastic resources and we’ll be embedding these into our curriculum resources and we also hope to share the resources as OERs/FOAMed learning assets.  I’ve also encouraged the students to consider running a workshop at our annual University eLearning Symposium on students as producers of learning and hopefully they’ll go for it.  One of the students developed a bank of formative assessment questions to support revision and again we’re going to look and see if we can submit a poster or presentation to the eAssessment conference that’s annually held in Dundee.

As for G+ I think it worked well with a small group of students.  Annalisa and I will be introducing it to a group of 5th years tomorrow on a prescring SSC, we’ll see if it proves as useful and works as well second time round.

Still looking for the perfect reference management tool

Workspace 3.0 - Noguchi File by paperbits, on Flickr

I mentioned in my post yesterday that I’m supervising a group of students on an SSC.  I’m introducing the small group to different ways they can use technology to support managing information.  As they’re developing elearning resources I’ve suggested they use a social bookmarking tool to keep track of any creative commons images they might use so that they can give the appropriate attribution.  I’ve shown them both my Diigo and Delicious accounts and posted some links for what’s in my libraries to our G+ community.  I’ve also shared a screencast on reference management tools and wanted to let them have access to the references I have bookmarked but this has proved easier said than done.

Over the past four and a half years I’ve set up accounts on 4 different reference management tools and there are elements of each of them that I like but each have their limitations and I’ve yet to find the perfect tool. I’ll run through the tools I’ve tried and what I like about them and what I think is missing.

I started using CiteULike just over 4 years ago when I started in my current post.  I liked the simplicity of it and the ability to post using a link from my bookmarks toolbar.  What I also liked was that it supported some of the same social bookmarking features as Delicious, namely the ability to

  • see how many other users have bookmarked a paper that you have and then take a look at these users’ other references.  Invariably this has helped me discover other interesting papers that I might not otherwise have come across.
  • subscribe to an RSS feed of another user’s references, again I’ve come across interesting papers in obscure journals that I probably wouldn’t have found otherwise.
  • easily create a group to share references with colleagues or create a collection that can serve as a signpost to interesting research for students.

However what I didn’t like about CiteULike was that there seemed to be a growing number of references that didn’t pull through and needed me to manually input the key datafields for the paper and I found this a bit frustrating.

I then came across Zotero which worked as a Firefox plugin.  This seemed to pull in far more references automatically without me having to manually key in the data, it also pulled in keywords from articles, which could save me time on tagging.  I also liked that it handled blog posts and other web-based content quite neatly and there was also integration with Word.  I could access my bookmarked references on any browser by logging into my account and I could join groups but the ability to publicly share my references was lacking and I couldn’t see other users’ references or subscribe to a feed of their library.

Then Mendeley came along and the Twitterverse was buzzing about it so I created an account here.  I liked that I could import my CiteULike references and automatically autosave a reference from there too.  I could also autosave from Mendeley to Zotero and so everything was backed up and if one site was down I’d always be able to access my ibrary from one of them.  The other thing about Mendeley which seemed quite neat was that I could drag in a PDF and have this save to a folder on Dropbox and I could access these on my work PC, my MacBook pro at home and on my iPad.  Being able to annotate the PDFs on the Mendeley desktop was also handy before I got an iPad and again the ability to have groups was useful for collaborative writing projects.  There was a bit of a wait for the Word plugin for Mac and when it arrived I thought it was a bit flakey and not as good as the Zotero plugin.  Again no ability to publicly share my library, only the ability to share items with groups.

More recently a group at Oxford have developed Colwiz and I signed up for this soon after it was released.  I prefered the design of this to Mendeley and liked that I could search online directly from the desktop app.  As it was early days there wasn’t a bookmarklet and no support for Word on the Mac.  Colwiz offers a suite of additional project tools to support collaborative research including task management, events, calendars and cloud storage. I didn’t really persist with Colwiz and haven’t looked at it in a while, but a quick look at the Twitter feed indicates there are some interesting announcements on the horizon, so maybe time to revisit it and see what’s new.

I tend to use Zotero the most simply because of the ease of bookmarking references so easily in Firefox in the address bar.  The bookmarlet for Chrome and Safari on the iPad also work really well.  While initially I was quite taken with being able to annotate PDFs in Mendeley I don’t really like reading long papers on my laptop and find it much easier to read them and annotate them on my iPad using GoodReader or iAnnotate.

So I’ve shared a link with my SSC group to my CiteULike library but this isn’t as comprehensive a library as my Zotero library.  So I’m still on the look for the perfect reference management tool, and wonder if one dat it will exist. If Zotero had the Delicious type functionality of CiteULike in being able to publicly share your library and explore other people’s libraries and subscribe to RSS feeds it would be almost be there. Being able to post from Pocket or Instapaper would also be another thing on my reference manegement wishlist.  Anyone know if Zotero, Mendeley or Colwiz have plans to add these Web 2.0 social features?  I’m sure I’m not the only one who’d find them helpful if they did.

P.S. A quick update to this post. I received this helpful tweet from William Gunn, head of academic outreach for Mendeley, confiriming that you can publicly share a collection on Mendeley with a public group, which quite handy.

P.P.S. A second quick update.  As these tweets highlight Zotero also supports public groups and you can subscribe to an RSS feed of a group’s library.  In addition users can make their libraries public on Zotero and where that’s the case again you can subscribe to the RSS feed for the library or to feeds for specific keywords.  This looks like a possible solution for me with regards sharing some of my library with SSC students and I’ll have a go at setting this up.

P.P.P.S Third and final update – Mr Gunn has been back in touch to confirm Mendeley public groups also have RSS feeds 🙂
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  paperbits 

Getting started with Google+ in SSCs

Google+_2Last week I tweeted about using Google+ with a group of SSC students and had a couple of questions about the SSC and how I was using it so I said I would blog about it.

For those not familiar with SSCs these are student selected components also known as special study modules, which are a common feature in undergraduate medical degrees.  Alongside the core undergraduate medical curriculum students get to select specialties and topics that they would like to study.  They can choose from formally organised SSCs run by teaching staff across a wide range of topics and in different healthcare settings.  There is also the option to self-propose an SSC (SPSSC) and this is a particularly popular option with our 3rd year students, who want to explore and gain experience in a particular area of interest and they are responsible for arranging 2-4 week project and a supervisor.

I’ve supervised a number of these self-proposing students over the past few years who’ve wanted to develop an online learning resource to help them prepare for their future role of doctor as teacher and to develop their IT skills.  I like to have these students linked up with a clinical co-supervisor too so they can also get some clinical experience  and so that we have a subject matter expert to review the resource that’s developed. I’ve had 4-5 students at a time doing these SPSSCs with me over the last three SSC blocks and whilst they’re all doing slightly different projects as well as individual sessions with them I I like to bring them all together to introduce them to some prinicples in developing online learning, usability and accessibility, issues around copyright and the reuse of clinical recordings, different tools and software they could use and also give them tips for organising their project and managing information and resources. Meeting up together also lets the students share their ideas and storyboards and get feedback from their peers, they also share things they’ve learned each week and put their resource through some uasbility testing. As they’re doing an SPSCC they have to keep a daily log of what they’ve done each day. Typically students complete this as Word document but last year I suggested that each student do this as a blog and share with the rest of the group so that we could give feedback and comment. This has resullted in some really excellent reflection and analysis and allowed me to give quick and just-in-time feedback.

This year there are 5 quite different projects and during our kick off meeting I wondered whether it might be worth while having a go at using Google+ to support communication and sharing of resources over the 4 weeks of the SSC. I’ve been using G+ pretty much from the off, but it’s taken me a while to get the hang of it.  The penny has been dropping over the past few months and it was particualrly helpful in planning and organising a pre-conference workshop I co-ran at AMEE last year.  I was thinking that rather than responding to individual emails from the students they could post a query in G+ and then they would all see my response and links to any useful resources I might share.  It would also allow them to respond to each other’s queries and share things they discovered too. All of the students had a Google account and whilst they hadn’t used G+ before they were all game for giving it a go so I created a private community.

So how did the first week go?

Setting up the community – First off they all emailed me their gmail email details and I tried to add them to a circle but as many of them didn’t have a G+ account I couldn’t add them.  I’d assumed that if you had a gmail account you automatically had a G+ account so I had to email them all and ask them to set up on G+. Once they’d all done this we were up and running.

Using Google Drive – Whilst one student set up a blog, another shared their daily updates in G+.  Another student was keeping their log in a Word doc but then uploaded this to Googledocs and then shared this with everyone in the community.  Another student wanted to run a quick survey and asked for advice on survey tools, here again we made use of GDocs and Google forms.  By the end of the week one or two others were thinking of using Google forms to get some quick feedback from their year group on the sort of learning resource that would be helpful to their peers.  None of the students were aware of GDocs or GDrive and the respective mobile apps for smartphones and tablets, which once again confirmed to me that we shouldn’t make assumptions about students’ awareness of technologies.

Scheduling events – I scheduled a follow-up meeting and set up an event.  However with the delay in getting everyone into the group I still had to send an email later in the week to confirm the arrangements.  Now that everyone is a member this should hopefully work better this week as we schedule follow up meetings.

Hangouts – We haven’t used this yet but we’ll perhaps try this before the SSC finishes.  I’ve introduced the group to what a Hangout is and explained that they can collaboratively work on a document and share their desktop etc and that this might be handy if they are working on group projects at anytime.

Sharing resources – I’ve found using G+ a much easier of way of sharing and signposting resources to students. G+ sharing buttons on our departmental Vimeo channel has made it easy to share screencasts and similarly it’s very easy to share YouTube videos.

G+ app – This has been handy both on the phone and iPad particualrly given the recent upgrades which have made it much more user friendly and made it easy for me to post stuff and respond to the student posts.

What the students think – So far the students have been quite positive about using G+. Previous institutional surveys and my own conversations with students have highlighted that not all students are keen to see the University and Medical School using Facebook to support learning as they see this as their private and social space.  The students on the SSC all held this view but felt that G+ maybe had the potential to be used to support learning given the additional features.  We’ll see what they think at the end of the 4 weeks.

I’ve found using G+ a positive experience so far, I also think it’s saving me time.  If it continues to be then I’ll be making use of it again when the next SSC block runs in May and I might consider using it with a 5th year SSC on prescribing that’s running next month.  I’ll post an update when this 4 week block is over and perhaps mention a few other tools that the students have been introduced to including Dropbox, Skitch and Pinterest.

Trends in online learning: #FOAMed

In recent months RSS feeds and Twitter have been overflowing with mentions of MOOCs, as Cousera, Udacity and EdX continue to attract new university partners and launch growing numbers of courses.  As these big guns have entered the world of MOOCs they’ve attracted lots of attention from the mainstream press, whilst MOOC participants are blogging about their experience as learners on these MOOCs and some of the issues they’ve encountered.

So how about MOOCs and medical education?  Back in January I blogged about an open online anatomy course that Stanford were due to be running in March.  Out of curiosity, I signed up along with a few colleagues, but the course was postponed and it’s not one of the 24 Coursera offerings listed under medicine so who knows if it’s going to go ahead.  I’m sure we’ll see more medical themed MOOCs come on stream from the big players running what are now being referrred to as xMOOCs.  Overall though in terms of online medical education I think there’s another emerging trend that’s more interesting than MOOCs and that’s free open access medical education (#FOAMed).

#FOAMed resources are typically being delivered via blog sites and much of the credit for the emergence and growth of #FOAMed is down to Mike Cadogan and Chris Nickson of Life in the Fast Lane fame and the growing band of emergency medicine bloggers that are following in their footsteps such as the team at St Emlyn’s.

It’s not just all about emergency medicine though, there are growing numbers of clinicians using blogging platforms to support and deliver medical education and particularly at postgraduate and CME level that can be branded as #FOAMed.  One example that’s been gaining momentum over the past year is  #gasclass set up by Sean Williamson and colleagues on Teeside.  #gasclass uses a WordPress blog and Twitter to support case based discussion for trainee anaesthetists.  Set up originally to  support weekly face to face training and discussion of local trainees it now attracts an international audience and is a great example of #FOAMed.  Another example is #ecgclass run by Heather Watherell and her Keeping ECGs Simple blog.  There are other sites and related twitter chats springing up around different medical specialties including urology and public health and a growing list of #FOAMed supporters.

More recently it’s been great to see undergraduate medical students getting involved with #FOAMed activities.  There’s the Twitter Finals Revision Group #twitfrg set up by Faye Bishton.  Each week Faye posts up notes for revision topics for medical students and hosts a Twitter chat on Thursday evenings at 8pm (UK time) and doctors are joining in to provide additional support to this student led initiative. Another student example is Anatomy Zone.

I don’t think the #FOAMed approach is just relevant to medical education, tools such as blogs, twitter and social media are open and accessible to anyone and in essence it’s perhaps another way of describing open educational recources (OER).  Last week I was interested to see some posts in my Feedly feed from Clive Shepherd on Kineo’s Learning Insights 2012 report and one in particular in which he highlighted that elearning is changing and said:

If you want to know about, say, photography – one of my current interests – the first thing you do is go to Google and YouTube. Your search doesn’t lead you to slide shows full of bullet points and multiple-choice questions, but to blogs, Wikipedia articles, screencasts and lots and lots of videos.

You know the detailed information will always be available online so you don’t bother trying to learn any of that. You want the big picture, the important ideas, lots of tips and tricks, and demonstrations of the key skills. If you have questions, you go to the forums. If you want to benchmark your progress against that of your peers, you join groups, share your work and provide helpful critiques to others. We are completely accustomed to learning in this fashion and very satisfied with how well it works. We cannot see why things should be so different at work.

So e-learning design is changing because, more often than not, it’s not traditional e-learning that people want. They’re looking for resources not courses. They want these resources in all sorts of forms – plain text will often do, graphics are nice, but they particularly like video. They are not expecting these resources to be fully-functioning learning objects, that take a learning objective through to its conclusion. Rather they want to pick and choose from a range of materials that can each make a contribution to whatever evolving goals they may have.

We’re looking for a new breed of digital learning content designers. Yes, they will be able to analyse a need and understand an audience but, most importantly, they will be great communicators in a wide variety of media.

It used to be that we turned to text books for resources, but as Clive suggests we’re all increasingly looking online for resources and when we find them we share them.  One of the roles of the doctor is the doctor as teacher and with the advent of #FOAMed what we’re seeing is a new generation of digital medical educators. Educators (or digital learning content designers as Clive describes them) who’ve engaged with technology and used it to create learning resources and enhance learning and create new opportunities for social learning that can both complement and supplement face-to-face and on the job learning.

The interesting thing is that this approach hasn’t emerged out of an institutional top down approach or beacuse of funding calls.  It’s being led by individual doctors who want to improve and enhance medical education and have grasped that technology can help to make resources openly accessible and support online learning.  There are also doctors who’ve started blogging who’s blog posts are also being used to support learning and in turn #FOAMed resources.  Two recent cases that spring to mind include Laura Jane Smith’s post on the Human touch which was posted up on our respiratory teaching blog and shared with our 1st year students and also Jonathan Tomlinson’s post on Shame which medical students were sharing and resharing via the Twitter sphere.

When I took up my current post, Life in the Fast Lane was one of the few medical education blogs around and Mike Cadogan was one of the first doctors I started following on Twitter.  Together with Alan Cann’s MicrobiologyBytes, Sam Webster’s blog and  Jim Groom’s work at University Mary Washington, Mike got me thinking about using blogs to support our undergraduate teaching and that led to an interesting journey for us at Dundee with our VLE.  Four years on it’s clear to see that Mike and his Life in the Fast Lane team are continuing to inspire growing numbers of doctors to embrace free open access medical education.  I hope this a trend that continues.  The future’s bright, the future’s #FOAMed!

Why can’t learning respositories be more like Slideshare

Over the past year we’ve been migrating our online learning content for the early years of our undergraduate curriculum from Blackboard to WordPress.  This move to using WordPress for our learning portal (VLE) was made after a series of pilots led to a bit of a snowball effect with growing numbers of our clinical teachers calling into the office and asking if they could have a WordPress site for their areas of the curriculum.  Staff and students preferred WordPress because it was much more like their everyday experience with the Web, they found it quicker and more user friendly.  WordPress didn’t present them with folders to click on like the old VLE, but webpages that looked like the rest of the Web and a number of students felt it better supported self-directed learning.

In parallel with the move to WordPress we’ve got another project running developing a timetabling and calendaring application which will deliver a personalised calendar to each of our students and tutors.  A key feature of this development is going to be linking teaching resources to each timetabled session so we’re linking the timetable application to a learning repository and we’re currently working on this integration.

Whilst we’ve been discussing learning repositories and possible solutions as a team I’ve been thinking about learning repositories and how I’d like them to work as a user.  The important thing for me is what’s the user experience like, how does it compare to everything else I engage with on the Web, is it going to be easy for my colleagues who are still a bit intimidated by technology to use.  Also how intuitive is to for students to use and does it easily inetragte with other tools that they are likely to use to support their learning.

I know that some have a complete aversion to learning repositories and might question why we’re bothering with one.  There are good reasons including the need for a system to manage and track the increasing numbers of learning assets such as videos, illustrations, animations, e-tutorials created in Articulate etc that we need to manage and keep track of.  We also want to avoid duplication and encourage sharing and reuse of resources across the medical school.  A repository will also help us to more easily produce reports for the GMC about where we are teaching various topics and themes across the curriuclum.  We also want it to support student learning and the dicoverability of resources.

Nationally we have repositories like Jorum, I’m not sure what the usage stats for Jorum are (Mark Hawksey has pulled some data off but I’ve not had chance to look at the detail but you can take a look if you’re interested), but I remain to be convinced that the majority of lecturers have even heard of it.  If I mention Jorum or other repositoies to colleagues I’m generally met with a blank expression and have to explain what it is.

In one of my thinking out loud moments with the team I was saying why can’t we have a learning repository that looks like Slideshare, YouTube/Vimeo, Flickr and Scribd rolled into one.  A platform where students and staff could

  • actually see and play a video, or quickly click through the slides or through a study guide or handbook without having to download it to view it
  • share the resource with their peers via social media buttons or post to social bookmarking tools, Instapaper etc
  • embed the resource on their own blog, Tumblr site etc that serves as an online notebook for their learning
  • rate and comment on the resource and give feedback on how it could be improved to their lecturers
  • see other resources recommended on similar topics to support their learning.

Thinking about this reminded me of a blog post Martin Weller wrote a while ago ‘Slideshare is the best OER site?’, in which he higlighted that Slideshare gets way more traffic than educational sites such as MIT’s OpenCourseWare or the OU’s OpenLearn.  Martin posed a number of questions asking why this might be the case including were individuals more likely to share through Slideshare, could it be considered as an OER repository of sorts and are commercial operations just better than educational ones.

I wonder if sites like Slideshare work well as an OER repository because of their usability and the ability to find the resources easily via web search engines.  Repositories like Jorum and Hum Box do have social sharing buttons but on the whole you have to download the content to view it.  If I go to Flickr, Vimeo or Slideshare I can preview the content, I can then easily embed that content/resource into another webpage and then share it in another context or download it for local use.  When I share it others can easily see the resource, engage with it and share it again, they don’t have to download it either.  That’s how the social web works, but it’s not how most learning repositories seem to work. It’s also easy to engage with these resources on a mobile device and share them whilst you’re on the move.

So why can’t we have learning respositories with this sort of functionality?  Perhaps there are some out there and I just don’t know about them.  Has anyone got an institutional learning repository that presents content like Slideshare and Vimeo, if you have it would be great to see it.

Social media policies and medical schools

Tony McNeill has blogged about UK universities developing social media policies and what the drivers for their development might be. He says,

My hunch – and it’s just a hunch at the moment based on some quick reading of sample policy documents and discussions with colleagues at Kingston University – is that the development of social media policies has been taken in response to both the promise of social media in promoting university brands as well as the threat to institutional reputation. The creation and implementation of social media policies are, therefore, playing a role in helping universities manage both the risks and benefits of social media at a time when reputation or brand management is key.

Whilst this may well be the case for institutional policies there are some disciplines where the issue of professionalism may be the driver for developing a social media policy. This is certainly the case for medical schools.  The BMA recently issued some guidelines and ethical guidance for doctors and medical students on using social media which we’ve highlighted to our students.  These practical guidelines focus on areas such as patient confidentiality, the boundaries between public-private and how social media might impact on employment. This guidance is helpful and welcome but there isn’t much mention given to the potential social media has to support learning, so we’re looking to build on the BMA docment and look at some of the possible benefits.  A key to developing more localised guidelines is the involvement of students and we’re building on a previous student project, which highlighted that many students would welcome more guidance from the medical school on using social media.

I’d be interested to know if other medical schools already have social media policies/guidelines in place and also whether students have had any involvement in shaping these guidelines or are involved in peer teaching on issues around social media and digital professionalism.

Curating content for students: The guide on the side

Yesterday Alan Cann tweeted a link to a post about that he’d written back in June. Like many others I’ve been trying out to curate content.  I’ve only only got one topic on the go at the minute pulling together snippets on elearning and medical education, but I’m starting to think about whether we should be trying out to curate content for our students.  Recently I’ve been bookmarking sites with Diigo and pulling the feeds from lists into some of our medblog sites. The idea behind using social bookmarking was to create a faux-repository for students of open online resources that have been recommeded by our clinial teachers. The SHEEN project collated resources on employability using Diigo and pulled RSS feeds from Diigo and other sources into Netvibes. The key thing missing from this faux-repository was support for social interaction.  Alan Cann also highlights the social sharing deficienices of Delicious in his post and hence why he likes

Last week at AMEE, an international medical education conference, whilst I was in a symposium on student engagement I was following the tweets from a short communications session on social media and was disappointed to see the digital natives myth was still being peddled. One of my twitter meded circle mentioned that in another session there was a question from someone with concerns about the open nature of the web and the resources students were using on the web and whether they were good or reliable.  The speaker’s response was to highlight that one of the roles of teachers is to be a ‘guide on the side’ and that they could play a role in quality assuring stuff on the web.  At the end of the week I was at a much smaller medical education meeting and had a conversation with a colleague about the wealth of great medical education resources available online.  My colleague suggested there must be a way to collate these and include some sort of star rating to give an indication of how good a resource is and share with medical students across the UK.

This has got me thinking about whether teachers should actively be curating content supporting their role as the guide on the side.  Lecturers do recommended reading lists and links to useful websites posted in VLEs or listed in paper study guides, but tools like allow ongoing curation of content and could, like social bookmarking tools, help build up a quality assured faux-repository to support learning. Students can react to content and share it to others via Twitter and other social platforms. is pretty easy to use, though like Alan I wish you could add tags when you scoop the content rather then having to remember to add tags once you’ve published it. The other thing about is that you can suggest an item to another topic, which would allow students to share content with their lecturers for review who in turn can go on to curate and share with other students.  Another option might be to curate content on a wordpress site that could serve as a repository and include a star ratings plugin so that students could rate how good the resource was in supporting their learning as well as leaving comments.

Is anyone actively curating content for their students in medicine or other subject areas?  I’m going to see if I can find one of our clinical teachers to give a go.  If I get a volunteer I’ll hopefully get round to posting an update of how we get on.