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May 23, 2011

LuceyCatherineGouldDouglasLeeLisaCOLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State University Medical Center is continuing down the path of innovation, this time leveraging the use of social media to advance their knowledge of coursework material.

Faculty and staff from The Ohio State University College of Medicine are incorporating the use of Twitter throughout the medical education curriculum. First-year dental students are following their professors to learn more about dental anatomy throughout the year-long course sequence.

“We expected that Twitter would serve a specific subset of ‘plugged in’ millennial students. We did not intend on everyone signing up to receive the feeds, but the response has been tremendous,” says Douglas Gould, professor and division director of anatomy at Ohio State’s College of Medicine.

Beginning autumn quarter of 2010, Gould and his colleague, Lisa Lee, an assistant professor also in the division of anatomy at the College, began using Twitter as a pilot test and an innovative solution to educating medical education students on various sub-disciplines of dental anatomy. Of the 200 students who were invited to participate, 113 are followers of the Twitter site and most have elected to have tweets streamed directly to their smartphones. Also among the group of active participants are second-year students who, according to Gould, desire an easy, informal and ongoing way to prepare for their first round of board exams.

“What is especially remarkable to note is it is our faculty and staff who are engaged, advocates of using technology in innovative ways to teach and drive the use of social media in medical education,” says Dr. Catherine Lucey, interim dean of Ohio State’s College of Medicine and vice dean for education at the College.

The goals of the project include increasing student involvement with lecture material and keeping topics ‘top-of-mind’ while outside of the classroom, providing students with highly sought after sample questions and helping students prepare for their board exams while providing continuity of the coursework.

“Student feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. They indicate an ease of use, ‘low stakes’ access to practice exam questions and the convenience of using Twitter to stay continuously involved in anatomy,” Gould adds.

Gould and his colleagues have plans to conduct formal analysis and examine the effectiveness of Twitter use on exam performance, at which point they will prepare a manuscript quantifying the effects and submit for publication. In addition, Lee has expanded the use of Twitter to graduate histology coursework and is also connecting tweets to Facebook, with a near 100 percent participation rate.