In a recent note (see: Back-Channel Tweeting at Medical Conferences), I raised the topic of back-channel tweeting at medical conferences as a means to solicit more comments and questions from audience members. I received two comments from readers about this topic.
- Mark Pool who blogs over at Daily Sign-Out submitted the following thought: I wonder if medical student, resident lectures wouldn't be more interactive using this. For example, giving them an in-line quiz after 5-10 minutes of content (and making the cumulative score count for their grade).
- Mike Lougee also contributed a comment: Good ideas, here are two more questions: (1) Twittering would be enhanced if every presentation included a "moderator" who could monitor the [Tweets] in real-time, which the speaker cannot; (2) I wonder if there is an application which can accrete "multiple-choice-question" Twits into "scores," in the fashion of audience-response "clickers." If yes, less need to rent expensive "clicker" systems, and more interactive sessions.
Clearly the idea of empowering the members of a lecture audience by soliciting tweets from them, whether at a conference or in lectures to residents, has some appeal to readers of this biog. incidentally, this same concept is now being actively used on CNN and other television program to elicit comments from viewers. Linked to this same idea, it occurred to me that we may need to rethink the idea of attention as it applies to lectures in medical school or in continuing medical education. When I was a medical student, any lecture audience member was either listening to the lecture, often evidenced by note-taking, or goofing off.
Now it seems that there are at least three ways in which a member of an audience can participate in a medical lecture while not closely listening to to it. They are the following: (1) browsing and digesting the lecture PowerPoint file that I will assume has been made available on-line prior to the lecture; (2) submitting tweet comments or questions about the lecture that could be collected by a lecture monitor, as suggested above by Mike, and presented to the lecturer during discussion periods; and (3) browsing the web to gather additional relevant information about the lecture topic. These three tasks amount to the audience members actively engaging in active study of the lecture topic but not necessarily paying strict attention to the lecture itself.
As was made quite clear in the original post, lecturers now need to be aware and understand that the absence of rapt attention to his or her presentation is not necessarily evidence of a lack of engagement by the audience in the material being presented. In addition, back-channel tweets can transform a lecture into more of a dialogue with the audience than was previously possible. In other words, a lecture should now be considered as a starting point in learning rather than a self-contained autonomous module.