Saturday, 13 February 2016

Using Twitter in nursing education

Roger Watson, Editor-in-Chief
In a world where some colleagues claim not to 'get' Twitter - usually and indication that they shun all aspects of social media - and would never dream of using it in education, others are pioneering and integrating it into teaching and even assessment of students.  Our students use all forms of online social media and, at the expense of sounding like we ought to 'get down with the kids', perhaps we ought to be meeting them 'where they are', learning about it ourselves and teaching them to use it responsibly.

An article from the UK titled: 'Introducing Twitter as an assessed component of the undergraduate nursing curriculum: case study' by Jones et al. (2016) and published in JAN reports on the use of Twitter in nursing education.  In the abstract, Jones et al. claim: 'Nursing students need to use social media professionally, avoiding pitfalls but using learning opportunities.' The article describes a case study on 'Digital Professionalism' which included Twitter.  In the study, according to the authors: 'Students received a face-to-face lecture, two webinars, used chat rooms and were asked to create course Twitter accounts and were assessed on their use.' and they consider the outcome to be positive.

Of course, if not used carefully, social media can get students - and academics - into trouble.  Some colleagues discourage its use and the Nursing & Midwifery Council in the UK had to be persuaded to attenuate its guidance which, essentially, told nurses not to use it.  This seemed sublimely ironic given that most National Health Service Trusts in the UK have Twitter and Facebook accounts and seem to manage them without compromising patient and employee confidentiality.

The article describes in detail how the assessment was carried out, shows the most commonly followed Twitter sites and presents extracts of Twitter feeds and, of course, as this is in the public domain - something I assume is explained to the students, the issue of participant confidentiality is obviated...I think.

In conclusion the authors state: 'Introducing assessed Twitter use is feasible, students think it is worthwhile and we recommend that such an approach be adopted by other British nursing schools.'

You can listen to this as a podcast.


JONES R., KELSEY J., NELMES P., CHINN N., CHINN T. & PROCTOR-CHILDS T. (2016) Introducing Twitter as an assessed component of the undergraduate nursing curriculum: case study. Journal of Advanced Nursing doi: 10.1111/jan.12935

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