Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Social Media as a CME tool cookbook

Some recipes for CME using social media. There's been Tweeting about it so I thought I'd do a cookbook. A bit tongue-in-cheek I know but any others want to share some recipes or flame grill any of these?



network of health professionals in same therapeutic area
a couple of experts in that therapeutic area
2 or 3 facilitators
access to some sample clinical performance data
one secure area on the web for posting anonymised clinical data
weekly email summary tool (aggregating the contributions)
additional media stimulant to aid recruitment


Organise a social meeting for the network (via voice / video / chat conference) so that they can get to know each other and offer the additional media if you have it available as an inducement. You may want to use a task as some sort of ice breaker (see Social Media Cocktails below). Allow to mix for 1 week.

Post the sample data onto the secure area. Using the data as an example ask participants to debate which area they want to explore for performance gaps in their practice. This could be done via a #TweetUp cocktail (see below). Leave to cook for 1 week but try to close on consensus early.

With the priority performance gaps identified organise another debate on the interventions, the outcome measurements and timescales. This may require other collaborative tools such as Wikis, discussion fora, Google Docs, conferencing technology, blogs. Organise several 'meet the expert' sessions so that the ideas can be discussed. Keep stirring and remembering to season at weekly intervals with an email summary that includes any offshoots that the network may have developed. This could take a number of weeks. Aim to whisk (i.e. encourage) the participants into some task force or even a community of practice.

Decide a mechanism (blogs, Twitter etc.) for flagging up the progress of each participant. Include these in the weekly summaries. Organise weekly 'show and tell' meetings, preferably synchronous. Eventually everyone (or at least those who will complete) will have the chance to present their experience of the intervention and the outcomes.

When fully cooked present as a document / blog / YouTube / SlideShare. If your CME accreditation system allows present this as evidence of you work at your appraisal else, use it as an example to lobby for its inclusion in future years.

Topic Catchup Snack


1 fashionable topic
1 scribe
1 facilitator
1 expert (optional)
case problems in the fashionable topic
several participants


Convene the participants in your favourite social media. Negotiate a draft agenda and mechanism for the discussion - 1 hour synchronous or 1 week asynchronous for example. Post the first case problem and debate. The scribe keeps a record of all the points raised. Either post another case from up your sleeve or invite others to contribute experiences of their own. Discuss, scribe, reflect. Continue until time is up.

CME microblogged nuggets


1 or more tireless enthusiasts
1 archiving mechanism
1 suitable context
several listeners


Choose your context. This could be hijacking another teaching session or conference. It could be a particular research paper or series of papers in a journal. It could be any sort of event physical or virtual. Choose a hashtag. The tireless enthusiasts microblog on the context in question using the agreed hasthag. The listeners receive, reflect, repost, and throw in questions and points of view to further encourage the already enthusiastic microbloggers.

McNugget digestif


the archive of a CME microblogged nuggets session
several participants


As a group reflect on the CME nuggets and pull together the main learning points. Discuss how they can be put into practice. Complete a fuller blog of the whole experience.

Social Media Cocktails

6 degrees of freedom ice breaker. This recipe is blatantly stolen from CPSquare. The facilitator makes a list of participants and assigns them another participant who they have to link to. However, the links must go through 5 other participants. So, for example, two people who share a hobby of cycling, or work in the same City have a link. The task is to find such links between you and the person you are assigned through 5 others. You link to #1, #1 links to #2, #2 links to #3 ... #5 links to the person you are assigned. This is quite a challenge. It basically involves cyberstalking your fellow participants (but in a wholesome bonding sort of way). Leave to mix for at least 1 week.

#TweetUp. Assign a hashtag to your discussion and a time. Invite everyone to make suggestions for an agenda. You could use an open Google Doc for this. Be strict with time. You need to experience them a few times to fully understand the dynamics of this particular cocktail.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Social Media as a CME tool (response)

Many barriers remain to be resolved before social media find their proper place in prime time in the world of CME. One of these is an inconsistency of attitudes towards social media by health care organizations. While some organizations, particularly academic medical centers, embrace certain media for educational purposes, others have restrictive policies. After all, no one wants their employees Facebooking on the job. Dr RW Donnell http://doctorrw.blogspot.com/2011/02/social-media-as-cme-tool.html
I agree with Brian's comments things are improving, However, there needs to be more than simply adoption of the new technologies to help in the communication of learning in CME. There also needs to be a change in the perspective of those who 'deliver' CME.

Maybe I'm viewing this more from an international perspective than the American one (where the conversation started) but in my mind there are two issues that need to be addressed by stakeholders:

- a move from broadcast media where 'experts' communicate with 'learners'. It is the learners themselves that need to be doing most of the communicating because the hard topics to crack such as patient safety involve the application of knowledge not simply the acquisition of knowledge. In short a move from objectivism to constructivism i.e. away from 'this is what you should do' to 'here is the problem how do you solve it'.

- a change in the notion of control. Instead of the control (the pedagogy of the design) being directed at what is being learnt and when, it should be control through facilitation of learning communities - giving them the support (data, community building, platforms, feedback, experts) that they may need.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

3 key tasks for e-tutors in medicine

Link research to practice, show value of learning in each other, and shape the learning ecology.

I've been an e-tutor in medicine for about 15 years principally with an online exam-preparation / assessment website (onexamination.com) and a postgraduate diploma course in diabetes (diabetesdiploma.com). I now work with BMJ Learning.

Recently I've been considering the training requirements for tutors and want to put forward the following three key tasks for 'e-tutors' involved in the distance learning through new technologies of postgraduate medical education. I want to build on these tasks over time and use them to provide perspectives for those wanting to take on the role of an e-tutor. Please feel free to comment.

There have been a number of influences on these ideas including Etienne Wenger's Communities of Practice, Etienne Wenger, Nancy White & John Smith's Digital Habitats, George Siemens and Stephen Downes's Connectivism, Dave Cormier's rhizomatic learning, Vladis Krebs' Orgnet and Lee & McLoughlin's Web 2.0 E-Learning. In fact the thinking is all theirs - this is just my particular perspective on what it might mean to support an e-tutor in their role.

Linking research to practice

Being a tutor in an academic environment, expecially one such as postgraduate medical education, will involve being a guide to the published literature. Linking research to the workplace practice of medicine involves identifying those areas where there is clear evidence.

Asking students to discuss their workplace, the cases that they have seen, the issues that they find challenging enables the e-tutor to then direct them to the relevant studies. After looking at the existing evidence there can then be a discussion on how that evidence can be translated into practice.

Show value in learning from each other

Learning complex tasks such as the practice of medicine means negotiating your identity as a practitioner and exploring the meaning of your practice with others from your same profession and allied professions.

The e-tutor should identify opportunities for demonstrating the value of learning from others and stress its importance for working effectively in healthcare teams.

Shape the learning ecology

Where and how the learning takes place is under some control of the the e-tutor. The learning space is not neutral - it shapes and provides affordances for learning. The e-tutor should act as a digital steward creatively rearranging and choosing the learning ecology as they would rearrange the furniture in a tutorial room. They need to consider suggesting, shaping, developing different orientations and perspectives for the learners. This requires spending time experimenting with new technologies as they become available and having an objective view of how the tools of technology act to support the learning.

The learning ecology has two parts. The first is the current course that is being 'tutored' but the second part is that the connections between the learners should be encouraged and weaved by the e-tutor so that they can be useful outside the course.