Saturday, September 3, 2011

Incorporating Web 2.0 tools in a Workshop on Web 2.0 tools for lifelong learning

Recently I organized a workshop for 1st year medical students on using Web 2.0 tools for lifelong learning.

Some educators have assumed that medical students are digital natives or early digital immigrants and thus just because of the year of their birth have an innate understanding of the Web and Web 2.0 tools.  This is an assumption that people are now questioning.

People currently in their 30s to 60's straddle the Web era having spent a significant portion of their "cognitive" lives prior to 1990.  They experienced "traditional education" and are in the unique position of understanding Social Media by activating their prior knowledge.

As I set about planning this workshop I had several questions:

  • How could I gauge the students' prior experiences with these tools? (begin without assumptions of the students experience and understanding due to being early digital immigrants)
  • How could I get them engaged in this topic?
  • I did not want to use a traditional lecture format to help them understand Web 2.0 education tools.  How could I incorporate actual Web 2.0 use into the education experience?
This is how I set up the workshop:
  1. Asked the class to create Google and Twitter accounts (could create an account that they could delete later if they did not want to share their real accounts with class).
  2. Created a spreadsheet on our internal Sharepoint site for students to enter their names, Google account and Twitter handles
  3. Invited the class to Google+ and put them all in one Circle.
  4. Asked the students to include me in one of their Circles so they could see my post.
  5. Asked students to follow each other on Twitter.  They did not have to follow everyone but maybe the colleagues from their PBL small groups.
  6. Asked the students to go to Google Reader and subscribe to PLOS  One Alerts (
  7. Click on the drop down next to PLOS One Alerts and click on "More like this" and choose Science Current issue.
    I could also have asked them to do the following but did not think of this then:
  8. In the search box type Google and Memory and see the results show the article we were discussing on Google+
  9. Read any article they liked from the 2 feeds and send to Twitter.  
Pre-Workshop Activities:
  1. Posted the Science article on how use of Google has changed the way we remember on Google+.  I limited this to the circle of students.  No one outside the Circle could see their comments.  Also disabled re-sharing of the post to keep the conversation private.
  2. Put some guiding questions under the link to the article:
    1. When you read information on the Internet/Web do you
      Remember the information or
      Remember how to find it or
      Both or
    2. How does this apply to how you study and learn medicine?
  3. Asked the class to comment on the article and these questions.
  4. I checked back and added comments to students' responses
At the Workshop:
  1. This was a 2-hour session.  I planned to spend the time covering
    1. Concept of Information Overload
    2. Need to use Web 2.0 tools to create filters
    3. Transactive and external memory
    4. Use of Google Reader and Diigo as examples of creating a Web 2.0 external memory system
    5. Define Social Media and types of SoMe
    6. Community of Inquiry model (Randy Garrison et al)
    7. Social Constructivism (Vygotsky) and how it relates to Social Media
  2. What we actually did:
    1. Audience response to gauge use of FB, Twitter, Google+ (could have used but just went with our clickers)
    2. ARS to see how many had tried the Google Reader exercise
    3. Discussion on these 2 topics
    4. Discussion on formal and informal learning and need to become life long learners
    5. Demonstration of Google Reader and how I use it, including sharing articles and commenting on them with residents and students.
    6. Demonstration of Diigo - especially the ability to highlight bookmarked pages and to take notes.
    7. Ask them to log into Twitter and post what they thought about the use of Google Reader and Diigo using a specific hashtag
    8. Break - I started Twitter Fountain and projected the posts with the hashtags on the screen.  As students came back into the classroom, they were able to see what everyone else had posted about what they had learned.
    9. Reviewed the discussion on the post on Google+ on the Science article.
    10. Examples of Twitter case discussions, Twitter journal clubs, Google Hangout
    11. Discussion and close
  3. What did I learn?
    1. Awareness of Feed readers and social bookmarking tools was very low.
    2. These were very enthusiastically received by the students.  A number of twitter posts were about how they planned to start using these.
    3. Students felt use of Social Networks in education was more appropriate for later stages of their training when they were more scattered and in less formal settings e.g. during practice, during clinical rotations etc.


  1. What I like most about this post is that you described what you planned to do and what actually happened. So often workshops don't work out as we intend but that is how we learn!

  2. @Anne Marie,
    It appears that for early stage students (Small sample), who have daily exposure to formal learning environments and are still learning completely new concepts, the perceived need for SNs is low.
    As they start specializing, getting less formal learning, and getting geographically dispersed, they thing they would need this more.

  3. Thanks for sharing your info. I really appreciate your efforts and I will be waiting for your further write ups thanks once again.
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