Web 2.0 & Social Media – Access in the NHS

I’ve blogged previously about connectivity issues in the NHS and the problems with accessing Web 2.0 and social media sites that can support teaching and learning. In one of these posts I mentioned the work that the NHS-HE Forum Connectivity Best Practice Working Group, which I’m a member of.  This group has been pulling together and sharing case studies of good and best practice around IT connectivity in the NHS, which locally have certainly helped us make progress in Tayside.  My contribution to the working group has been to write a paper on Web 2.0 and social media in relation to education and research and this was published last week following the most recent NHS-HE Foum meeting held in London on 14th May 2013.

I had originally hoped to have the paper finalised before Christmas, however the delay perhaps has been quite timely given the Department of Health publishing its new digital strategy just before Christmas.  The DoH strategy “sets out how the Department of Health will give its staff the knowledge, skills, tools and confidence to embrace digital opportunities to deliver better health, better care and better value for all.”

At the moment for staff wanting to engage in digital opportunities to support learning and collaborative research there are still barriers with access to many Web 2.0 and social media tools being blocked.

The paper I’ve written highlights the emerging benefits of Web 2.0 technologies and, whilst taking account of potential risks, outlines some recommendations concerning their access.  I’m grateful to my colleagues from both the NHS and HE on the NHS-HE Forum Connectivity Best Practice Working Group for their feedback on the various drafts on the paper and their input into the final version of the document. We hope this document will prove helpful to various groups within the NHS as they seek to raise issues around the accessibility of web-based technologies.

I hope the paper will be of some use to those wanting to start a dialogue with NHS organisations about access to Web 2.0 and social media sites in the NHS to support learning and research.  I’m also hoping that we can start to gather case studies that can demonstrate ways that these technologies can be used to maximise their benefits for education and research particualrly given the growing interest in #FOAMed. I’m also planning to do some follow-up work to this paper which I hope to share over the next month or so.

If you’d like to contribute a case study on good practice or are interested in connecting around these issues please do leave a comment.


#ukmeded chat: MOOCs the future of medical education?

Moocs-mededT`onight’s #ukmeded Twitter chat is going to look at MOOCs and their potential role in the future of medical education.  In prepartion for the chat, this post provides a very brief introduction to MOOCs and sets out a few questions and points to think about that we can hopefully discuss and follow-up on the chat.

If you spend time on Twitter and you’re involved in education there’s literally no escape from the constant mention of MOOCs – massive open online courses.  MOOCs have been around for several years and the early MOOCs pioneered by George Siemens and Stephen Downes were designed around a connectivist approach to learning. This video from Dave Cormier gives an overview of how these early MOOCs operate.

Over the past 18 months the hype around MOOCs has been gathering pace as universities such as Stanford and MIT have started to run MOOCs.  Stanford had planned to run a clinical anatomy MOOC in March 2012, but this never materialised.  What did emerge though was three MOOC providers, Coursera, Udacity and edX with ambitious plans to run MOOCs across a range of subjects taught in higher education.  Universities have joined these MOOC providers and there’s a growing range of courses available.  Tens of thousands of individuals are signing up for MOOCs, and whilst not everyone is completing significant numbers are though they don’t generally receive any formal accreditation for completing the MOOC.  The MOOCs run by Coursera, Udacity and edX have become known as xMOOCs whilst those run with a more connectivity approach are labelled cMOOCs.

xMOOCs typically are built around 10-15 minute video lectures, discussion boards and different learning activities such as online quizzes or written work which might be marked by other students enrolled on the MOOC. Online learning is already widely used in medical education and so it’s no surprise that growing numbers of medical courses are being offered as MOOCs by Coursera and a piece in the BMJ a couple of weeks asked Are MOOCs the future of medical education? This is what we’ll consider in the #ukmeded chat on Thursday 9 May at 9pm (UK time).

There are lost of things we could discuss, but here a few points to start us off.

  • Will medical students in the future be able to study elements of their degree online via MOOCs?  Whilst medical students will need to be attached to a medical school or hospital for the clinical aspects of their training could the early years of a medical undergraduate curriculum be studied via MOOCs.  Could students pick and mix MOOCs from different medical schools?  How would learning on MOOCs from different universities and different countries be validated given that medical degrees are accredited and quality assured by regulatory organisations like the GMC.
  • Do MOOCs lend themselves more as a way of increasing options for student selected components or special study modules?
  • Could the cMOOC approach support more creative ways of teaching around topics like digital literacy skills, ethics, public health and global health, connecting students from different countries and cultures?
  • Are MOOCs more appropriate in terms of supporting continuing medical education and lifelong learning? Medicine is changing fast and MOOCs could be one way to support doctors keeping up to date.
  • What about #FOAMed?  The piece in the BMJ makes no mention of the growing #FOAMEd movement or connectivist MOOCs, do these have the potential to become more significant in medical education than the mega xMOOCs.

Tonight’s #ukmeded chat kicks off at 21.00hrs UK time.  The chat is open to anyone, you don’t have to be a doctor or medical student to take part or be based in the UK  so please feel free to join in the conversation.


All the tweets from this #ukmeded chat have been curated and you can read them in the PDF file linked below.

#ukmeded chat – Thurs 9 May transcript on MOOCs via Symplur