9 Tips for Using Twitter and Engaging Attendees at Your Course
An ACR Ed Center faculty member shares her experience adding social media to her most recent course.
I started using Twitter for professional interests in October 2014, and in a relatively short time I have become a huge fan and advocate of Twitter for radiologists. I have enjoyed many benefits that enhance my role as an academic neuroradiologist. Since some of my regular tweets include educational content, I had the idea of using Twitter at the ACR Education Center Neuroradiology course to supplement attendees’ learning and share the classroom experience with other radiologists on Twitter.
Follow these steps to inject social media into your educational activities.
1. Choose a hashtag. A hashtag is a label used on social media that attendees can use to easily search for tweets related to the course. I chose #ACRedu, which was used in all tweets during the course.Include the hash tag and presenter’s Twitter handle on your introductory slide (or even discretely on each slide) so that attendees have the information close at hand.
2. Prep attendees before the course. Two emails were sent prior to the course with the Twitter handles of faculty’s accounts and instructions on how to set up a Twitter account.
3. Understand the barriers and offer support. One of the main barriers is attendees’ lack of experience with social media. Fortunately for me, ACR Press staff heard about the initiative and were enthusiastic and generous with their time. They were present on the first day to help attendees set up accounts, provide technical support, and answer questions. This allowed faculty to focus on the course and tweeting.
4. Do a quick Twitter tutorial at the podium. I showed the Twitter interface and a few tweets during the course introduction. I provided a quick guide on how to follow the hashtag, favorite, and tweet. I emphasized how privacy can be protected. This took the fears and mystery out for those new to Twitter.
5. Make it look fun. The course is far more likely to be successful if attendees sense your passion about education on Twitter. I suggest faculty use Twitter for at least a month prior to get familiar with Twitter etiquette and functionality.
6. Plan the tweets. Tweets can been scheduled to go out at a specific time with Hootsuite or TweetDeck. Scheduling means that attendees and your other followers are not overwhelmed with all the tweets at the same time. Faculty can also schedule relevant tweets to be tweeted during their own lectures.
7. Emphasize that Twitter can be tailored to the user. A few attendees said they preferred not to think about the Twitter portion during the day, but they found it valuable to look through the tweets in the evenings. Twitter does not need to be distracting.
8. Set up a tweet stream. If you have an extra screen, consider dedicating it to the Twitter stream so that attendees can follow along. This also gets non-users curious about what they are missing out on. To do this, check out Twitterfall, Tweetwally, or TweetBeam.
9. Stay inclusive. Not all attendees will want to use Twitter, so be sure everyone is included. Offer to send out article reference via email each night so that everyone has access to these resources.
What was tweeted?
- Cases related to the themes of the day. Cases were unknowns with a question and a link to the answer
- Direct links to references discussed in the lectures, brought up during the case review sessions, or sent out for pre-reading
- Photos of activities during the course
- Key teaching points from the speakers
- The occasional humorous tweet
So how did it go?
Before the Ed Center course started, only 9 attendees had used Twitter and experience levels varied. By the end of the course, 37 of the 39 attendees had accounts and were following on Twitter. In addition, many other radiologists were following remotely from outside the classroom. Tweets and retweeting with the #ACRedu hashtag came from radiologists in Columbia, Australia, Finland, Canada, the U.K., and Malaysia, as well as ACR staff, pathologists, anesthesiologists, neurosurgeons, and patients. Over the three-day course, the #ACRedu hashtag appeared in 440 tweets from 73 people.
In a post-course survey, 91 percent of attendees agreed that Twitter enhanced their learning experience. None felt that the activity had hindered their learning. At the conclusion of the course, 59 percent said they would continue using Twitter, while 36 percent were undecided. Here are few of the comments the course received:
- “I would have never had looked up the articles that the faculty discussed, but now they are only a click away and I can favorite them so they are easily accessible.”
- “I think I will continue to use Twitter after the course. My children will be so impressed with me.”
- “I have never used Twitter before. When I got the email I groaned that there was yet another thing I had to do. I got my husband to set up Twitter the day before travel. Now I cannot believe how quickly and how so much information can be shared. It is so easy to access on my iPad or iPhone. This is truly amazing and exciting.”
Check out all of the #ACRedu tweets from the Ed Center course on Twitter. Will you use Twitter in your educational activities?
And Read This Too
By Jenny K. Hoang, MBBS, Associate Professor of Radiology and Radiation Oncology at Duke University Medical Center (@JennyKHoang)