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Engaging Students with Twitter

26 Mar, 17 | by josmith

Kirsten Huby, Lecturer Children’s Nursing, University of Leeds (@KirstenHuby)

Emma Wilson, Children’s Nursing Student, University of Leeds (@Emzieness

The latest Horizon report (Adams Becker et al., 2017) recognises collaborative learning as one of the key trends that will be driving Higher Education for the next few years. It suggests that collaborative learning improves engagement, encourages learning that relates to practice and enables communities of practice to be developed. For healthcare students this type of learning can be used to develop the skills to think critically, problem solve and become open to recognising the diverse nature of the health and social care arena. Technology can help to promote collaborative learning but will only be successful if we can engage students and ensure they see the purpose of what is to be achieved.

 

It has been suggested social networking sites (SNS) encourage the type of collaborative learning advocated by (Adams Becker et al., 2017, Prestridge, 2014) ,we cannot assume that a particular type of SNS will necessarily work. In a study on the use of Twitter, students tended to use a tweet to ask a question of a lecturer rather than to collaborate between themselves. The author considers that students may need to be guided and supported to recognise the depth of knowledge and understanding that can be shared in this way (Prestridge, 2014). This implies that in order to be fully engaged students need to understand the purpose of the interaction and the tool that is being used.

To do this, informative learning opportunities and consultation with students needs to occur. The twitter community is diverse; some nurses opt to have separate ‘nursing’ accounts, others opt to combine professional and personal tweets as one online personality. Ultimately this comes down to personal preference. However, it must be considered that social media guidance has been set by the NMC (Nursing and Midwifery Council, 2015) and this and the requirements of the NMC Code must be adhered to at all times; on and offline and regardless of whether an account is identified as personal, professional or both. Student nurses therefore need to have an awareness of their responsibilities and potential accountabilities surrounding any social media use in relation to this.

A significant factor which potentially hinders student participation with SNS in a learning environment is whether they are comfortable with lecturers/mentors potentially having the ability to view personal posts/tweets. One such way around this is to have a specific agreement to not follow students back from University curated accounts. This means that students can view informative tweets / retweets on their timelines, but their own postings aren’t automatically or as easily visible. This leads to an element of ‘privacy’ and choice, allowing students to choose whether to engage with lecturers if they want to, but also benefit from some of the wider aspects of using SNS such as furthering knowledge / sharing views on current research or topical issues and collaborating and engaging with other students and professionals. As we take the next steps with the @UoLchildnursing account we hope to increase our engagement with students and with the help of motivated student twitter champions such as @Emzieness we hope this will be possible.

Adams Becker, S. et al. 2017. NMC Horizon Report: 2017 Higher Education Edition. 2017 ed. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Nursing and Midwifery Council. 2015. Guidance on using social media responsibly. London.

Prestridge, S. 2014. A focus on students’ use of Twitter – their interactions with each other, content and interface. Active Learning in Higher Education. 15(2), pp.101-115.

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