Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Challenges in doing Social Media Workshops for Medical Educators

In the last 2 weeks, I have had the privilege to be invited to do presentations on use of Social Media in Medical Education at 3 different places.  It is exciting to see the growing interest levels in social media in medical academia.  There is a buzz in the air at these events which is quite refreshing.

Each of these was a large group presentation to an unfamiliar audience.

Sitting at the airport waiting for a flight back home from the last one of these, here are some reflections:
  • Presenting when you don't know your audience's level of expertise with the topic is always challenging.
    • Use Google Moderator if possible to get some idea of what the audience would like to see.  This is a great tool do a needs assessment and also weave a social activity into the hidden curriculum.
  • Find out as early as possible about Internet access at the site.  Will the audience have Internet access?  Is it a public WiFi or is a password or some other security measure required?
    • If you require your audience to go online project a slide with appropriate instructions before your presentation.  
  • If you need the audience to download an app or create an account, ideally you want to send these instructions out by e-mail well ahead of time.  Thus if you want to do a demo of a Twitter chat you may want them to create a Twitter account ahead of time and remind them to remember the password.  
    • Expect a significant portion of the audience not to have followed up on those instructions. There could be many good reasons for this, e.g. did not want to create a Twitter account due to privacy concerns. Or they are in a different stage in Kolb's learning cycle (more on this below).  Say something to prevent chaos (e.g. "how do I get connected?" or "I never got the instructions!" or "I am worried about creating a public profile").  Say something like, "How many have created a Twitter account? That's great, we have enough participants for a good demo.  Those who have not, will be able to watch the exercise as we will project it on the screen.  Those who did, please follow the instructions in your handout (or on the screen) to get started. 
  • One of the best ways to think about the audience participation is to review Kolb's learning cycle.  According to Kolb, when people learn new things, they either want to watch and think OR feel and do.  This is a bit of a simplification and you can read more about this here.  Kolb has a learning style inventory that people can fill out and share with you so you can know ahead of time what their learning style is.  But that is a long questionnaire and is not free.
    I wonder if one could pair up an Assimilator (watch-think) person with an Accomodator (feel-do) person and have them work together through the exercises?  
  • Somehow we also have to account for the participants' digital competence.  Ideally you could create small groups which include at least one computer expert and one Accomodator.  
  • The auditorium/room where you are presenting might preclude working in small groups.  
  • All you can do is cross your fingers and toes and hope for the best!  Just try and light the fire and leave them with resources to go back to.  I tell the audience to find a social media mentor at their local institutions who can get them started.