The University of Alabama at Birmingham offers numerous online courses and many include live Twitter chats to engage students who live around the world.
However, one instructor is bringing the online model of learning to the physical classroom.
Erik Qualman, the author of Socialnomics, said, “We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is how well we do it.”
And that is where Kristopher Maday, PA-C, CNSC, an assistant professor in the UAB School of Health Professions Physician Assistant Program, enters the higher education social media scene.
On a recent day this summer, Maday literally and figuratively brought Tweet Wall into a UAB Family Nurse Practitioner Intensive.
“My motivation was to have people be able to get all the extra information I’m teaching without having to scribble down all the websites and links,” said Maday. “Plus, now it’s a nice educational repository for everyone. So anytime in the future that they need this information all they have to do is search #FNPintensive on Twitter and it’s all there.”
“The students also posted a few questions to Kris via the Tweet Wall during the lecture which allows them to pay attention rather than sit with their hand raised until they are called,” said D’Ann Somerall, DNP, FNP-BC, program director, Family Nurse Practitioner, UAB School of Nursing. “Plus, I had a student unable to attend the Intensive due to a medical emergency so she was able to retrieve all the handouts from the Tweet Wall and it allows students to keep up with the supplemental documents he used to support the lecture even after they leave the classroom setting.”
Without social media, the reach of this classroom intensive is limited to those who attended in person. With social media, the total reach goes beyond 13,000 people.
#FNPintensive by the numbers
“This Tweet Wall is the modern-day version of Hippocrates sitting under a tree in Greece,” said Maday. “Back then he was teaching solely for the sake of teaching and he was doing it for anyone who wished to listen and learn. The biggest difference today is the amount of people we can reach when we teach.”
Quick history lesson: Hippocrates, born in 460 BC, was an ancient Greek physician who is called the father of western medicine and is the author of the Hippocratic Oath which is still held sacred by physicians today.
Part of Hippocrates oath says “…to teach them this art – if they desire to learn it – without fee and covenant.” That is a philosophy that Maday subscribes too and lives by through use of the Tweet Wall. Everything he posts is free to anyone with the desire to learn it.
“There is a movement called FOAM – Free Open Access Meducation – that is, medical education for anyone – and it’s a big leap to take once you put all your time and energy into your lectures,” said Maday. “However, if the information you put out there allows someone else somewhere else to better help a patient then it is absolutely worth it.”
In the world of medical education, which many trace back to Hippocrates and his tree, Maday is planting a seed. This was the first time he used the Tweet Wall in a live classroom setting but it will not be the last. He says he will start out small – as all seeds do – and this won’t be a regular occurrence. But even so, Maday believes this is the beginning of something big for higher education that will have deep roots at UAB.