Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Taking Conference Tweeting to the Next Level: From the Speaker’s Perspective

Live conference tweeting has grown to become quite commonplace in recent years. Conference organizers will often designate a specific hashtag for enhanced and engaged communication among attendees and non-attendees alike during the day(s) of the conference. Some of the basic concepts related to live conference tweeting have been discussed by Nikita Joshi (@njoshi8) and Bryan Hayes (@PharmERToxGuy) on the Academic Life in Emergency Medicine blog, and Rob Rogers (@EM_Educator) hosted a pro-con debate related to live conference tweeting on his blog, iTeachEM. Several studies have been published related to the live tweeting from medical and pharmacy conferences (1-7), many of which have characterized the types and general content of tweets generated from respective meetings.

Tweeting from conferences is no small feat, and there are certainly many caveats that exist when it comes to composing the ideal tweet of 140 characters that not only captures the take away point of the speaker, but also ensures that the information is accurate and reflects the perspective of the speaker. Throw in a reference and/or picture, and you may be literally thrown in for a loop. Even one word within the tweet may open up dialogue between those individuals following the conference hashtag and may unintentionally escalate the flow of communication, especially for those topics that may be controversial.

But this is quite noteworthy; that is, engaged dialogue between attendees and non-attendees of a conference in such a medium that probably not would have happened otherwise is remarkable. One could even argue that the use of Twitter at major conferences can potentially serve as a means of assessing the knowledge gained by attendees of various sessions. But where is the speaker of the session in all of this? How can we really determine whether the tweets actually reflect the intended pearls that the speaker aims for the audience to gain following the educational session?

A group of emergency medicine physicians from the United Kingdom asked this very question in a recent study published in Emergency Medicine Journal aptly entitled “Are you a SCEPTIC? SoCial mEdia Precision & uTility In Conferences” (8). Following an emergency medicine conference held in the United Kingdom in 2013, the investigators set out to determine the level of correlation of the tweets generated from respective session with clinical pearls that speakers aimed for the audience to learn and gain at the end of each respective session as well as specific feedback related to sessions by surveying the speakers themselves. A total of fourteen speakers of 16 sessions of the conference were surveyed, and the results were rather telling. Most of the speakers did agree that tweets from their sessions did indeed correlate with their intended pearls, but there were three tweets of the 37 reviewed that the speakers indicated were not an accurate reflection of the content of their respective sessions. In addition, five (38.4%) speakers indicating that they would more likely consider using Twitter as a source of feedback.

The authors do raise a number of essential points associated with the use of Twitter for the purposes of tweeting from live conferences that are important to note. It may be difficult to determine the true intent behind tweets generated from sessions of conferences, especially if it is indeed a misrepresentation of the speakers’ presentation. It may be that the tweeter may have misunderstood a specific concept presented by the speaker that may get be shared on Twitter; or, the content of the tweet may be altered to generate a specific response from the followers of said tweeter. In addition, as mentioned above, constructing the ideal tweet may offer itself as a challenge, and the tweet may be taken out of context of the intended message of the speaker.

The question here is: How can the speaker ensure that tweets generated are an accurate representation of the content of their session(s)? One solution may be for speakers to generate tweetable pearls of their session prior to, during, or after presentation of the session. Some speakers may be quite savvy and schedule tweets to be shared as they present through the use of any number of Twitter-based applications or alternatively, via embedded tweets within the presentation itself. In addition, it may be worth for the speaker and/or conference organizers to delegate the task of tweeting from a session to select individuals, especially for those generated from accounts of organizations, to ensure that the tweets are representative of the content generated from the session. However, this may not prevent the generation of inaccurate tweets from personal accounts. Whether or not they choose to take the onus of tweet generation related to their educational sessions through these and other activities is completely their prerogative, but nonetheless, it is important for speakers to be aware of that the extent of dissemination of the content of their sessions through social media platforms. 

Conference organizers should also be cognizant of the impact of such potential practice-changing tweets as well, and in sharing the results of research studies like these and others to be published in the future, they may become more willing to not only to share the official conference hashtag prior to and during the meeting itself, but they may also share some best practices related to live tweeting with attendees that may help guide the tweets generated from educational sessions of the meeting. In addition, conference organizers may also ask the speaker to compose tweets of selected specific pearls (with attached references, if necessary) ahead of time to be shared through any number of social media platforms during the session itself.

The authors are commended for taking research related to live conference tweeting to the next level and offering a perspective from the speakers of sessions of one such conference. This and other forms of research will undoubtedly serve as a means for future directions related to this area of communication at conferences. Yet, we should not lose sight of the idea that sharing such information from conferences through social media should generate further reading and critical review of the literature surrounding clinical topics.

  1. Desai T, Shariff A, Shariff A, et al. Tweeting the meeting: an in-depth analysis of Twitter activity at Kidney Week 2011. PLoS ONE 2012; 7:e40253.
  2. Nomura JT, Genes N, Bollinger HR, Bollinger M, Reed JF. Twitter use during emergency medicine conferences. Am J Emerg Med 2012; 30:819-820.
  3. McKendrick DR. Smartphones, Twitter and new learning opportunities at anaesthetic conferences. Anaesthesia 2012; 67:438-439.
  4. Ferguson C, Inglis SC, Newton PJ, Cripps PJ, Macdonald PS, Davidson PM. Social media: a tool to spread information: a case study analysis of twitter conversation at the Cardiac Society of Australia & New Zealand 61st annual scientific meeting 2013. Collegian 2014; 21:89-93.
  5. Neill A, Cronin JJ, Brannigan D, O'Sullivan R, Cadogan M. The impact of social media on a major international emergency medicine conference. Emerg Med J 2014; 31:401-404.
  6. Mishori R, Levy B, Donvan B. Twitter use at a family medicine conference: analyzing #STFM13. Fam Med 2014; 46:608-614.
  7. Awad NI, Cocchio C. Use of Twitter at a major national pharmacy conference. Am J Health Syst Pharm 2015; 72:65-69.
  8. Roland D, May N, Body R, Carley S, Lyttle MD. Are you a SCEPTIC? SoCial mEdia Precision & uTility In Conferences. Emerg Med J 2014 Dec 11 [Epub ahead of print].

Friday, December 19, 2014

EMPOWER Episode 5 - Global Pharmacy Practice: Comparisons of USA versus Canada

In this episode of what will hopefully become a series covering topics related to global pharmacy practice, we have featured Mark McIntyre, an EM pharmacist who practices at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Listen to the podcast by clicking the link below (link available on iTunes here):

EMPOWER Episode 5 - Global Pharmacy Practice: Comparisons of USA versus Canada

Show Notes:

Musical Introduction
Introduction to episode featuring Mark McIntyre, PharmD
Culture of practice in Canada
How do you provide care to this population?
Everything in healthcare Canada is a cost center
Quality, value, waste
How to justify/expand service
Health Quality Ontario
Challenges of EM pharmacy in Canada
Discussion of AJHP commentary regarding EM pharmacy practice and medication reconciliation: 
Priority conditions handled in Canadian ED
Differences in patient-pharmacy interactions
Transitions of Care
Home at Last Program in Ontario
Clustering of opioids prescriptions and association with mortality: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21402956
Opioid prescription database
Challenges of long wait times and boarded patients in the ED
Rapid Assessment Zones (RAZ) in the ED
Express admit unit (EAU) in the ED
Presence of EM pharmacy practice in Canada
EM pharmacists in USA
Passage of ACEP resolution 44 noticed in Canada
How to EM physicians view EM pharmacists
Tipping point for EM pharmacy
Pharmacy education in Canada
Experiential rotations
Future directions of research and scholarly activity for EM pharmacists
Rational use of drugs in the ED
Flow of a multidisciplinary team in the ED and psychology of decision making and team dynamics
Patient satisfaction and perceptions in the ED
Transition from USA to Canada
Pharmacists on the code team
Visibility of pharmacy as a profession in Canada
History: “Florence Nightingale” of pharmacy
Musical outroduction

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Introduction to the Assertion-Evidence Slide Design

In recent months of giving presentations to both future and seasoned pharmacy practitioners, I have been able to garner a new category of feedback from audience members that was never the case previously. It has been quite interesting to gain a new focus of feedback for my presentations, but I think it speaks volumes to how far we have come and how far we need to go when it comes to the provision of medical education.

It all has to do with my slides. To be more specific, it relates to the aesthetic design of my slides. The new general consensus from members of the audience has been along the lines of the following:

One individual even followed up that comment with a remark highlighting the fact that because I am a millennial, it made that much more sense that my slides consisted mostly of pictures and short phrases as opposed to the traditional bullet-long list filled with words, words, and more words. Hmm…

Here’s the thing: Slide templates (as we know them) set us up for failure. Yes, for both our audience members as learners and us as presenters.

We all know what slide templates within PowerPoint have to offer us. I challenge you to open up any master template on PowerPoint to find anything other than a variation of the slide template below:

This is what most of us, millennial or not, have all been traditionally accustomed to since the very existence of PowerPoint. Some will (gasp!) include a graphic squeezed onto the slide right next to the bullet list to further highlight the information being presented. Others will go on to even use the template as the script for the entire presentation, leading members of the audience to focus on the content on the slides rather than the words being spoken by the speaker. Worse, the speaker may lose the attention of the audience altogether.

But does this bread-and-butter template have to be the default in the first place? And more importantly, is this aiding the learning of members of the audience?

Believe it or not, there is a science behind slide design, and a group of educators and research engineers from Penn State University has been publishing their findings on this very topic. Their extensive research in multimedia learning and cognitive psychology has led them to develop an innovative form of slide structure known as assertion-evidence slides. This form of slide design incorporates a two-pronged approach, as illustrated below:
  1. Headline: Contains sentence that highlights the main assertion of the slide; and 
  2. Body: Visual graphic of the evidence that further elucidates the assertion statement of the slide (1).

In many ways, using this approach to design slides not only allows for the speaker to streamline and focus presentation of key concepts aimed to enhance the learning of the audience member through the elimination of disjointed concepts that otherwise may be incorporated through the use of a bulleted list of items, but it also allows the learner to synthesize connections between the assertion statement and the visual graphic (2, 3). To ensure that your audience has not missed any of the finer points of your presentation with information that may not be directly found within the slides, you may want to create a supplemental handout with references and such.

There have been relatively few studies published on the topic of learner assessment associated with assertion-evidence slide design (4, 5) but the findings of those that have been thus far have demonstrated superior long-term retention of the content of such presentations in contrast to traditional slide templates.

Now, granted, much more time, thought, and creative effort is required to be dedicated in designing such slides. (Who knew less is more? But I can tell you from firsthand experience that this indeed is very true.) However, in the long run, we are doing our learners a favor by portraying the information being presented in such a manner that facilitates their learning needs. 

At the end of the day, members of the audience should not forget that slides exist to serve as the backdrop to illustrate the story that the speaker is telling as part of the presentation. 

  1. Rethinking Presentation Slides: The Assertion-Evidence Structure. Available at: http://writing.engr.psu.edu/slides.html. Accessed November 18, 2014.
  2. Garner J, Alley M. PowerPoint in the psychology classroom: lessons from multimedia research. Psychology Learning & Teaching 2011; 10 (2):95-106.
  3. Garner J, Alley M, Gaudelli A et al. Common use of PowerPoint versus  assertion-evidence structure: A cognitive psychology perspective. Technical Communication 2009; 56 (4):331-345.
  4. Garner J, Alley M. How the design of presentation slides affects audience comprehension: A case for the assertion-evidence approach. International Journal of Engineering Education 2013; 29(6):1564-1579.
  5. Root Kustritz MV. Effect of differing PowerPoint slide design on multiple-choice test scores for assessment of knowledge and retention in a theriogenology course. J Vet Med Educ 2014; 41(3):311-317.

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