The fourth dimension of conference attendance

3 09 2011

So, I’ve just got back from two conferences – the NOVICE Summerschool in Budapest, and AMEE in Vienna. I always feel like I don’t make the most of conferences. I love AMEE – 3000 medical educators in one huge conference centre and multiple streams of symposia/workshops/posters/short comms….its absolutely manic! But as I sorted out some bits to take with me this year, I found last years conference bag, unpacked, still holding my notes and abstract booklet. Now I’m not saying I haven’t used what I learnt last year, because I definitely have (and made some new connections by sharing our business skills curriculum for vets in a poster), but it occurred to me that my physical output from it was rather static.

It struck me that there must be a better way….and then I heard all these people talking about Twitter during a previous conference…and I had a bit of a rebirth moment. To me, as I gain in experience as an educator, networking is one of the most important elements of conferences. Its a bit like the lowest level of the EBM triangle, but the (often beer driven) conversations with new contacts are a brilliant way of learning and getting new ideas. However, face to face networking is such a small part of a conference (even a brilliant one with lots of interactive sessions) and so this is where Twitter comes in.

Once I’d got the hang of the whole hash tag thing (#amee2011 and #budvet11) I started Tweeting in a couple of ways

– I took notes into Evernote and Tweeted them from the various sessions I went to (also with photos of slides etc)

– I tweeted questions/thoughts during sessions – and one of them even got asked live to the presenters at the time!

As my notes are in Evernote they are a bit more permanent and so it’ll be interesting to see if I go back to them over the next few weeks. I’ve already sent the link to certain sessions to colleagues who I thought might be interested.

So my conclusion is that CPD and conferences needn’t be as static as they sometimes appear….I guess I am completing that reflective learning cycle with a little help from some Twitter friends, and discovering that there is a fourth, social networking dimension to conference attendance!

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Aims and objectives

7 08 2011

Well, as any teacher knows, every session should start with some aims and objectives, so my first post is to outline what I intend for this blog…then it will just remain to be seen as to whether I actually achieve these things!

For a while I have kept brief notes, comments, reflections…whatever you want to call them really. I have documents on my computer labelled various things from “useful stuff” through to “papers I should write”. The problem as I see it is finding the time to actually action these things….the day is just not long enough to share with other people useful things I have come across in my day to day work and communications.

A bit more about what I do. As a typically self effacing Brit I hate writing about myself…but here goes! I am a vet first and foremost – and I am lucky to be a member of such a great profession. My “sideways” (or maybe downwards?) step into the murky world of vet education five years ago has made me busier, poorer, stressed yet at the same time energised, enthused and entertained by the students I am lucky enough to teach and the fantastic colleagues I work with every day.

I’m a lecturer at Nottingham Vet School, and I’m also doing a PhD in veterinary education around veterinary professionalism. I don’t have much time to publish. But we’re doing so much great stuff here, and it’s good to share! I am quite heavily involved with OER in different ways, and it has struck me recently that a blog/twitter combo may be one of the best ways to talk about some of the things we are involved in.

Kind of copying the medics inevitably, as I follow the meded stream on Twitter which has shown me all sorts of interesting things….and far less of an effort than publishing, and still kind of peer reviewed (more about that later no doubt)

So to summarise, this blog will:

– contain some interesting stuff for anyone involved in veterinary education

– allow me to formally record things I am doing on a more regular basis

– contain links to our latest outputs in the various OER initiatives I am involved in

– also include, by way of light relief, some of my animals (sorry to anyone who dislikes dogs, horses and chickens!)

This is me by the way (& Thornton of course):

In the clinical skills lab