Are Twitter-savvy students “privileged”?

At this week’s AAMC meeting, Alex Djuricich (@MedPedsDoctor), Terry Kind (@Kind4Kids), and I presented a workshop that dealt with using Social Media/Twitter in our roles as medical educators.  During a breakout session within the workshop, I heard an interesting concern that I had not previously considered.

One participant’s administration was concerned that students who are not using Twitter, Facebook, or other social media venues would be excluded from the information provided by the faculty on these sources.  Their concern is that the students who are involved on social media would thus have an advantage over those who do not use the sites.

Although I understand the worry, I am not concerned. Social media is simply a different way that faculty and students can communicate.  After classes, students often come up ask questions or clarify areas of uncertainty with their teachers.  Many professors hold office hours, sometimes even with groups of students.  On a personal note, for years I have been answering students’ emails on a one-to-one basis.

If a significant area of concern arises, it surely is the faculty member’s responsibility to make sure the problem or misunderstanding is not a systemic issue that all students are having.  Social media simply expands the ability for students to communicate efficiently with their faculty.  The faculty members’ responsibilities to clarify information for all their students doesn’t change.  Social media simply helps break the barrier between the two groups, not increase it.

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About Ryan Madanick, MD

I am a gastroenterologist at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, as well as the Program Director for the GI & Hepatology Fellowship Program. I specialize in diseases of the esophagus, with a strong interest in the diagnosis and treatment of patients who have difficult-to-manage esophageal problems such as refractory GERD. I can be followed on Twitter: @RyanMadanickMD
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2 Responses to Are Twitter-savvy students “privileged”?

  1. Rebecca says:

    If the question was “are students with iPads ‘privileged’” I might agree with an argument. If students choose not to use social media to support their studies, it is their loss. The tools do not cost them anything to use. Yes, it takes a little bit of time to learn how to use them, but those digital literacy skills will serve them well in the future.

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