It’s a social network where people can send messages of a maximum of 140 characters in real time. It was created in 2006, and it has grown tremendously ever since. When it was first created the messages, called tweets, were about what people were doing in real time. Nowadays people, or "tweeple" as they are called on Twitter, are tweeting about any subject in the world.
Here's is detailed guide on how to use Twitter by Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Slide 35 is a 7:47 minute video where Dr. Chretien, an internist, is interviewed about the use of social media.
If used appropriately Twitter can be a powerful tool for education using a platform that is FREE and already used by a whole virtual community of educators and learners.
Advantages of following people on Twitter:
- Quick and succinct
- Connect and network with people in the same or different field of expertise
- Initiate a discussion
- Explore another way of learning
- Stay up to date
- Increasing number of "live-tweeters" at EM conferences, who report succinct pearls from the sessions
- Can be accessed anytime and anywhere (asynchronous learning)
- Can come back to the pearls and review them (by favoriting tweets)
- Share other people's great tweets to those who follow you (by re-tweeting)
- No need to reveal patient information to learn
- You can just lurk and learn
Examples of ways people are using Twitter in education:
- Tweet images and ask for the diagnosis
- Tweet pearls as factoids or question-answer format, using text, images, or even video
- Tweet links to videos of procedures and lectures
- Reply to your tweets with a link to a reference, podcast, or video
Disadvantages of using Twitter:
- Limited information because only allows 140 characters
- Need to learn the Twitter vocabulary
- Need to learn how to abbreviate but still get your message across
- Need internet connection
- Need to learn a new technology
- Risk of violating HIPAA
- Can be distracting: https://vimeo.com/39784948
Because tweets are a coming from a single source, the information may be biased, not current, or frankly wrong. Furthermore, many people use their account for both personal and work-related tweets. So choose who you follow carefully!
Below is a starter list of people to follow on Twitter (in no particular order), who use it primarily for medical education related to EM. You can start slow and just follow a few people at first.
See great comments from earlier survey-based post about "why Twitter?".
Javier Benítez, MD