Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Massive discussion forums

A colleague in CU suggested to me yesterday that really what we needed to foster links in the institution was a massive discussion forum; something as big as digitalspy where we could be as high or low-brow as we liked. I think that's a great idea and I wonder why it hasn't happened yet.
It also made me think about this clip of an interview with Clay Shirky. He makes the observation that we have to almost become 'bored' with a technology before we can go on to become imaginative with uses for the masses. Maybe discussion boards have reached that stage of familiarity for enough of us now.
So how do we get it set up?

My blog hasn't died yet.

It's just that I am off to Peru tomorrow so haven't had time to write in the last few days. But I'll be back mid-November!

Friday, 24 October 2008

health 2.0, medicine 2.0, learning 2.0

How do they come together?

Web 2.0 and Me....

The networks and communities (professionally) I could be linked with:

Staff in GP Practice
Colleagues in other GP surgeries in Caerphilly/Wales/UK/World

Colleagues in Public Health and Primary Care
Colleagues in College of Medicine
Colleagues in Cardiff University
Colleagues in UK Universities
Colleagues in Global Universities



I spent a while yesterday evening trying to get to grips with Twitter. One of the most interesting things is its searchability through sites such as Twitter Search. I searched for "medical education" (without the quotes) and managed to find a few of the people I had come across on other sites. I could therefore access their blogs and twitters although it is harder to find networks on Twitter. But I did find tags to the Medicine 2.0 conference so that brought more links to interesting people and interesting blogs. I've added those blogs to the list on the side.
Now, beyond acting as a database in this way, I'm not so sure how useful it actually is. But I will learn!

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Is blogging dead?

Well, mine has only been started a week and already people are talking about blogging (and all web 2.0) as being passe. I read in comments to this post ( about a medicine and web 2.0 course) that we are already moving on to web 3.0. Someone mentioned it to me in an email and 30 minutes ago my husband mentioned reading something about blogging being dead on the BBC. Well, I don't think it is yet. I think that is ways it's potential is only just starting. I'm also being asked more about Twitter, but I haven't really figured out microblogging yet. My Facebook status updates are going to Friendfeed and I have even joined Twine. Surely enough connection for one day and to ensure that I can keep up with things if blogging is dead.

Surveymonkey for Blackboard feedback

Yesterday I came across mention of surveymonkey as a way to get quick feedback to a question someone raised in a comment about a blog post. So I had a look at surveymonkey and thought I would try and use it to get some quick feedback about the way I have started using Blackboard tools in my part of the course.

First, some background. I teach in a 5 year medical course in the Cardiff, UK. I co-ordinate a course which is delivered to 2nd year (pre-clinical) students called the Family Case Study. Pairs of students are assigned a family to visit 3 times between October and March. Many of the families have young children, and some are older families (at least one member over 60). The focus of the visits and conversations with the family is meant to be health rather than illness. This is the first opportunity students will have to longitudinally visit a family and to experience moving from being a lay student to a student doctor. The students are based in another part of the campus so it is not easy for them to call into my office. So, over the past few years I have been trying to maximise the potential of Blackboard.

I started with the use of the discussion boards in 2005. I made a board to ask me questions about the project, and others where students could talk to each other about how to meet the learning outcomes. I took a course in e-moderating like this one, but I found that I was not going to be able to set up small groups as Gilly Salmon suggests. Instead all 300 students had access to the boards together. But in the main they did use them. In the first year there was no relationship between participation in the discussion forums and mark, but I made some changes and have to repeat the analysis for subsequent years.

This year I set up some wikis and asked students to use them to sign up for the age group of family that they would like to visit. 75% of them managed to do this. But I wasn't sure why the others hadn't although I knew that some had simply missed the deadline.

I then set up some other wikis to allow students to post the questions that they were planning to ask the families in the visits. These questions are essentially the products of the buzz groups that we used in their first tutorial. There are 16 different tutorial groups and 5 buzz groups in each one so we should have had nearly 80 contributors to the wikis. So far there has been contributions from 3 of the tutorial groups. But the contributions are good.

I also started a blog where I could give tips to students, send them interesting links and generally try and keep in contact with them.

So yesterday evening in about 20 minutes I drew up a 7 question survey through surveymonkey to get some feedback on the way I was trying to use Blackboard. You can have a look at the survey here.

By this morning I had 23 responses. Wow! So I learned that generally students found the wiki easy to use but some still weren't sure how to use it. Most said that they hadn't used the wiki for tutorial feedback yet because they hadn't had time, but interestingly nearly all those students accessed Facebook every day. They also suggested I made things a little more organised on Blackboard so I had a tidy-up. I then used my blog to tell them about the findings so far and let them know what I was doing to try and get things moving in a better direction.

It feels quite exciting to be able to get feedback from students so easily.

Blogging as learning...

I really realised the power of blogging in the last few weeks when I started checking Robert Peston's blog every day. I've stopped for now. So his blog is so powerful that is was accused of setting the news agenda rather than just commenting on it. I have no aspirations to reach such dizzy heights. Instead I thought that I would like to record my own journey in learning how to use these new media. I also hoped that I might inspire people who really have something to say to join me. Networking takes time and energy. This should make it easier and over the next few weeks I will be able to report if it does!
This morning I bumped into a colleague at the bottom of the stairs. He works in the School of Postgraduate Medical and Dental Education. I told him I had started blogging and he told me he had too! I'll post a link later. Blogging could help forge links between our departments.
I hadn't realised that there is discussion about whether or not all learning professionals should be blogging but there is.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Networking results!

Today through IVIMEDS NING I have been introduced to another NING community, Work Literacy. Their subtitle is Web 2.0 for Learning Professionals. It is a 6 week course that introduces blogs, wikis, social marketing etc. I have missed the start but there is a lot of interesting stuff there. My first thought was that Work Literacy must be a government initiative. But it isn't. It seems to be a different kind of organisation: a network.
More later..

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Getting the most out of Blackboard

Within my module I have instigated wikis and today a new blog, by me, and the discussion boards that I have used before.

I also rediscovered TED and have linked to a few talks on there in my new Blackboard blog. I wonder what the students will make of them. Here they are- Dean Ornish and Jill Bolte Taylor.

Gonna get myself connected....

Since last week I have joined two NING communities. I found Medical Education Evolution through Deirdre Bonnycastle's blog. This is a very interesting concept- radical people in medical education. But I guess it isn't as busy as I might have hoped. Still I will keep checking in and see how it develops.

Next, I was invited to join the IVIMEDS NING community. This is just in it's infancy but it will be interesting to see how it takes off too. It seems that NING is where it's at.... for now!

Friday, 17 October 2008

Finding the medical education community

So how do you do it? ASME and AMEE don't have a presence on Facebook.... searching for "medical education" + blog, turns up which is excellent.... but there must be more out there. I just haven't found you yet!

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Starting out!

I am a clinical lecturer in Cardiff University. I'm a GP and work in a Department of Primary Care and Public Health in the university, and in a GP practice in the South Wales valleys.

I want to link up with other people in medical and health sciences education so that we can learn together.