(aka Social Media in medical education)
As we start a new registrar term at the RBH, DEMTEd takes a look back at the final session of 2013.2.
Profesor Brown, Editor of EMA announced during this session that the February Edition of EMA is the 25th anniversary edition with a focus on everything social media in the emergency department. Check out the online journal here (for ACEM memebrs) or here for the publishers page.
The final DEMTed of 2013 turned full circle, looking @ how we learn rather than what we learn. The session started with an overview of assisted education through SoMe (social media) and #FOAMed (free open access medical education) followed by a passionate debate on “The Textbook is at Death’s Door”.
- Learning how to learn online now is easier than later It will be exponentially more complex in a month, a year, a decade from now
- Reliability is an issue not limited to online media If you use google, then you know how to filter out the ‘bad apples’
- Use ALiEM’s 5 rules to enjoy longer lasting safe online education
Disclaimers I’m not a SoMe/#FOAM activist I am millennial…therefore I am entitled (apparently)
What is Social Media?
There is no universal definition for Social Media. Some say it’s when an electronic medium has the ‘potential’ to collaborate, whereas others say it’s an electronic medium where users can easily show their opinion. For the purposes of this DEMTed we’ll call it an interactive online medium.
It’s important to be aware that none of the definitions requires users to actually contribute, the medium simply needs to have the ability to if one desires.
What is #FOAMed? Free Open Access Medical Education
Let’s just put it out there. #FOAMed isn’t social media. Social media has helped evolve FOAM, help spread the word, and is part of it, but it’s not FOAMed. Instead, FOAMed is a concept – ‘any method of free online medical education’. Blogs, Podcasts, Twitter updates, email subscriptions, RSS feeds, it doesn’t matter what it is or how you use it, if its free and online, its FOAMed. That’s all you need to know about it for now.
The Art of Learning
- SoMe helps gather information better
- SoMe helps interpret/contextualise information easier
We all learn differently. But learning always starts by gathering information – be it from textbooks, ward rounds, lectures, meetings, or however else you gather information day-to-day. And the type of information that we choose to gather is decided on by a variety of recommendations (one of the consultants here reminisced that before the internet was a ‘thing’ the journal articles he read for ongoing education were limited to what the good Professor Brown recommended, if only the professor had a twitter account…)
We also learn by interpreting and contextualising the information that we gather. For this reason, concepts that we understand stay in our head longer than pure rote learning. This is also the reason why some of us learn better with study/discussion groups – because even though we might be reading the same text, we read differently between the lines. This is where FOAMed can offer a more efficient way of interpreting the information and making learning more efficient and more powerful.
Here’s a list of what I think are the 5 most common reasons why Luddites see no point:
The much revered peer review process has been the gold standard for centuries. But this all seems to have been by default. Prof Brown during the session suggested that there may be evidence to suggest that it isn’t any better, but makes editors feel better. At the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide on how you interpret the information. Do you believe the statistics, do you believe the rigorous scientific method applied and do you trust this ‘expert panel’ chosen for you, not by you?
The more interesting question is – do you use Google when learning? How can you trust it but not FOAMed (after all, isn’t googling something medically educational considered another aspect of the FOAMed concept)? The very fact that you go back to Google time and again doesn’t suggest that there is an inherent trust in the results. Instead, it reflects our sub/conscious ability to filter out the nonsense, to read around the debate and to use what we ‘think’ is reliable in our clinical practice. You’re FOAMing without knowing it! It’s not so bad is it? It’s important to apply these often subconscious principles when ‘googling’ to your approach with FOAMed.
The sacrifices of technologies’ short half-life have included the cd-rom book, Myspace, Digg, and Google wave. Will FOAMed be added to the list in a few years? Nothing is guaranteed in life, but given how social media is taking over how we communicate, it doesn’t seem like the bubble will burst any time soon. Knowing this, the longer you leave it, the more evolved FOAMed will become and steeper the learning curve will be when the time comes that you are required to use it.
3. Information Overload
To the uninitiated, online information can seem overwhelming. If that’s what you think about FOAM, you’re not far off – informative sites are like diamonds in the rough. The only difference is, once they’re found, they retain their value AND a greater number of people reap the rewards. This is where social media comes into its own: get a network of well informed and reliable online colleagues, keep up to date with what they’re reading, and find these gems.
We are taught early on what is acceptable and what isn’t, largely through trial and error. So what happens when a new way of communicating is developed? We saw this with the ‘reply all’ icon on an email. Adults have to learn through trial and error as much as kids do in order to calibrate to societies level of acceptability, but unlike kids, we have accountability to deal with. Rest assured, much of this trial-and-error has been done for you – the following is a guide to get your online learning going safely:
Live by #FOAM, Die by #FOAM
I won’t bore you by trying to emulate a great blog post http://academiclifeinem.com/5-rules-to-guide-your-approach-to-learning-in-social-media/ but the crux of the post includes:
- Approach with skepticism not cynicism
- Think about the context
- Innovative doesn’t mean rigorously tested
- Higher the risk = harder you think about changing YOUR practice
- Be inclusive (that means the patient too!)
Where to start? Try these sites on for size:
Life in the Fast Lane http://lifeinthefastlane.com/ Academic Life in Emergency Medicine http://academiclifeinem.com/ Boring EM http://boringem.org/ Emcrit http://emcrit.org/ GMEP (Global Medical Education Project) https://gmep.org/
And you might be perplexed to see that the #FOAMed community is all inclusive, so these sites will have recommended reading if they think someone has done it better, differently or even the same!
- Embrace Online Learning (before it gets too hard)
- Make it work FOR you (and move to another site if it isn’t)
- Be cautious
Victoria Brazil, in her infinite wisdom, had two parting pearls;
- Experienced educators aren’t resistant to social media as a platform for education
- Be wary of something that’s free
And for those looking for the debate, unfortunately due to technical difficulties, we were unable to upload it.