The Bright Side of Social Media

As the disruption of COVID-19 has unfolded in the medical education community, there has been a rise in technology enhanced learning resources, with a particular emphasis upon Social Media (SoMe). In this blog series, ASME Social Media & Communications Director Dr Jonny Guckian examines some of the success stories behind specific SoMe innovations and highlights the scholarship which drives such popularity.

What’s the innovation?

The Tweetorial: a series of linked tweets combined to form a step-by-step explanatory essay. It’s undertaken by one single account and breaks down concepts into multiple 280 character chunks.

Sounds long. Why bother?

One of the chief criticisms levelled at Twitter in academia is that it’s just too hard to get across complex, nuanced ideas in 280 characters. Moreover, posting poorly connected tweets on one subject can be hard to navigate, particularly when the real learning comes from the rigorous debate which follows. Tweetorials break down complicated concepts into bite-sized chunks, whilst ensuring that they are firmly connected so that the reader is fully oriented in the ‘lesson’.

Ok, let’s make a Tweetorial then! Let me open Twitter…

Woah, hang on there. Like most quality social media content, good preparation is key. First you need to decide on your topic. Make it something relevant to your audience, which can be succinctly summarised in under 20 Tweets. Choose concepts which allow external links to evidence and images. Draft your Tweets in a separate word document or Evernote page. When considering your content, make your language approachable and ensure your first Tweet draws the audience in. Make them care as much as you!

Is this easy to do on Twitter?

It has certainly become a much simpler process. As you Tweet, you should see a ‘+’ icon, as below, next to the ‘Tweet’ button. Press it to generate your thread, which can be posted all at once.

twpic

 

Why have these been popular on social media?

It’s important to remember that Tweetorials are not just threads. They’re intended to educate, inform and entertain. They have been used by experts in various fields to pick apart previously inaccessible or challenging topics, often for beginners. Whilst there is not much scaffolding and they are largely facilitator led, they do offer opportunity for comment and subsequent questions. In this way, experts are able to demonstrate their approachability.

What’s the theory that informs the innovation?

There are various educational theories which can relate to social media. It is a complex medium which features social constructive influences as users share their experiences, promotes conversational interaction and facilitates the formation of communities of practice. Tweetorials at face value are probably amongst the most ‘basic’ form of social media learning. If one was to apply this concept to Bloom’s Taxonomy, Tweetorials would rest at the very bottom, with ‘remembering’, as they are centred on sharing basic information or facts.
Concerning specific theory, Connectivism may explain how Tweetorials work. Connectivism details that learning happens as information is transferred across ‘nodes’. Nodes can be individuals, organisations or non-human entities, such as computers or artificial intelligence. Of note, connectivism is a learning theory conceived with TEL in mind.

Which Tweetorial writers can you recommend?

Everyone will be specialty-specific, however I would suggest following @tony_breu, who’s Tweetorials informed this guide, @DrStevenTChen for dermatology tweetorials and @medtweetorials for a wide range of Tweetorial topics.

What about evidence?

Here are some links to important literature supporting the use of such resources:

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/0142159X.2016.1173661

https://pmj.bmj.com/content/91/1080/556.short

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13181-020-00760-0

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