Sunday, March 30, 2014

My Personalised Digital Learning Space Thingummybob

Recently, I made my way down the beautiful escarpment to Wollongong to the Coast City Country (CCCT) GP Supervisors' Professional Development weekend. I was giving my personal experience of creating a "Personalised Digital Learning Space. I didn't realise that this is what I had done - essentially it was about how you use interactive social tools on the internet to enhance your own learning and teaching.

This post will summarise the talk I gave and some of the discussion that took place. Please use the comments to continue the discussion, and feel free to catch up with me on Twitter. You'll notice that the process of putting up this blog, and sharing our Prezis, is a demonstration of the content of the talk - as is commenting!

Sharon Flynn, the CEO of CCCT, opened with an outline of the background and theory, such as it is. You can find her Prezi here, and mine is embedded below.

It's quite possible to feel completely overwhelmed by online tools. There are so many people, and so many websites, apps and tools for so many devices. It can be like getting to grips with the size of the galaxy. In the same way that we don't have detailed knowledge of every drug available on the PBS (but we know where to find it), we can use three or four tools well, and not worry too much about all the others.

Here I'll describe how I use social media, and which tools I use. I don't want you to feel that this is the way of doing it. This is just a way (and probably not even close to the best way.

I was asked to cover the following questions:

  • How do I find stuff?
  • How do I know it’s accurate?
  • How do I share content?
  • How do I filter content?
  • How do I keep up with all the news?
  • How do I organise content?
  • How do I categorise content?

My system is very simple. It's based around Twitter and Blogger. Mostly...

How do I find stuff?

You already find stuff! Most people already find stuff through colleagues in rel life, and through Google. Popular medical magazines like Australian Doctor and Medical Observer are widely used. I still look at textbooks, too - I shall never grow tired of Balint, and while Trish Greenhalgh writes books, I shall read them! So online isn't the be all and end all.

I'd add Google Scholar and PubMed (especially Clinical Queries, which adds search filters to help you find systematic reviews and randomised controlled trials). I routinely check out the Tables of Contents (eTOCs) (login required) issued by the RACGP library and the PHCRIS e-bulletin.Some people used the subscription services Up To Date or Dynamed (also available through the RACGP library). These offer evidence reviews supposed to be used at the point of care, though they are not quite succinct enough for this.

The social nature of the web means that you can extend the circle of people you call upon from those you know personally to (potentially) anyone, including leaders in the field. Watching out for accounts on Twitter who regularly point out interesting research and articles is really valuable. For me, Trish Greenhalgh, Ash Paul, Jonathan Tomlinson, Annmarie Cunningham, Melissa Sweet and WePublicHealth would be examples where much of what they tweet I find interesting and relevant. It's much more useful (and fun) to see tweets containing opinions, not just headlines, too.

It's also useful to keep your eye out on some hashtags. Hashtags are search terms attached to tweets which allow you to find information you are interested in from poeple you don't know exist. #FOAMed #FOAM4GP #MedEd and #SoMeGP would be good places to start. As you get more connected, people will learn your interests and direct things to you that they think you will be interested in. For example, some recent tweets I received:

@NACCHO_CEO Aboriginal Health reform Justin Mohamed - @Informa_Oz… @WePublicHealth @croakeyblog @timsenior @qaihc

— Aboriginal Health (@NACCHOAustralia) March 25, 2014

A #publichealth perspective on the RDA… FYI @warrenmundine @GreenJ @NACCHOAustralia @timsenior @LowitjaInstitut

— Melissa Sweet (@croakeyblog) March 24, 2014

How do I know it's accurate?

This is no different to other parts of life! Do I trust the writer? Do I trust the tweeter? Do I trust the publisher/journal/website? There's no reason to suspend you critical judgement. Things on the internet are no more or less reliable than our daily newspapers. Make of that what you will!

How do I share content?

Simple answer: I tweet it. I usually tweet links to things I find interesting, usually with a comment about why it's interesting or useful. Where I want to say more than 140 characters, or want to say something with more thought behind, I'll blog about it (on for Aboriginal health stuff, and on for anything else). It's very easy just to use Twitter and a blog as a basis for sharing.

There are other tools that can be helpful. Storify for bringing together a series of tweets and links into a story; Slideshare or Prezi for sharing presentations; Youtube or Vimeo if you fancy making and sharing videos.

So you see I've managed to embed a Prezi to share on the blog. On this post, I've embedded a Storify.

How do I filter content?

I use 2 questions, essentially:

Is it useful – will it change my practice?

Is it interesting?

If the answer to both of these is no, then I won’t bother.

Sometimes when I am really busy, something has to be really really useful or really really interesting for me to worry about it.

How do I keep up with all the news?

I used to try! Now I don’t worry. If it’s important enough, it’s will be tweeted several times through my network. If it’s not, I won’t miss out. You can’t know everything. Remember that it's social media and not social media - your network will find stuff for you! (It’s why you should share interesting or useful stuff you find.)

How do I organise content?

If I see a tweet with interesting info in (for checking out later) I will favourite it. (You can see what I've favourited here).

If I see a journal article worth reading, I will save it to my CiteuLike library. (Incidentally, if you have access to a University Library, see if there is a version of the LibX toolbar you can install...)

If I see a website or some other bit of information, I will save it to my Evernote notebook which is accessible from my computer and phone. This is useful for websites, articles, meeting notes, pictures, tweets, sounds, drawings etc. (I used to use Pocket, too.)

How do I categorise content?

Citeulike and Evernote both use tags. I attach key words of my choosing to interesting articles, and can then find them later. So, for example, these are all my Citeulike articles tagged Education

Some of the discussion

My observation that the development of theory was playing catch-up to the ways people were using social media for education provoked the useful clarification that the educational theory hasn't changed, and that the challenge is to make the most effective use of these tools intelligently. We can't ignore what we already know about educational effectiveness, but neither can we just translate lectures, seminars, workshops, tutorials across to an online environment and expect them to work. (Which incidentally, is why my Prezi here may not be very useful on it own!)

The other interesting discussion was about the use of social media by registrars. Some GP Supervisors were concerned about the use of mobile phones and social media during clinic sessions, especially the distraction of this while seeing a patient. It would be interesting to hear from others about their experience with this. Our discussion thought about using video to see the impact on the consultation, and asking the registrar what they thought the patient might be thinking seeing the registrar checking their phone when it buzzed. (Any doctor not able to put themselves in the patient's shoes at this point probably has bigger problems than just the use of social media!) Where students are engrossed in an electronic device, there is scope to use this as a teaching moment for all concerned, and ask the student to get specific information relating to that consultation.

I'm fully aware that there are many other tools and strategies out there that you will use. Please tell us in the comments below.