The Teaching Course is Coming!

Looking to infuse passion into your career as an educator? Not satisfied with the existing courses on medical education and teaching? Well, I give you….

The Teaching Course

What is the Teaching Course?

The Teaching Course is the premier experience in medical education and teaching. It’s a finely tuned blend of education, social media, and faculty development. If you can only choose one course in medical education to ignite (or re-ignite) passion in your career, this is it. This course aims to truly make a difference. And remember the course tagline: “Better Educators, Better Patient Care.”

The course is a week long experience of TED-like talks and workshops integrated with social media and FOAM (Free Open Access Medical Education). This is not your ordinary course filled with boring 60 minute Power Point lectures.

Please remember that this course is not just for emergency physicians. It’s for anyone who wants to make their mark on the world of medical education and social media. We have had pharmacists, nurses, and physician assistants take the course. If you want to be happier in your job as an educator and you would like to think that what you do on a daily basis makes a difference, then this is the course for you!

The Teaching Institute proudly presents The Teaching Course from Rob Rogers on Vimeo.

Why is this course special?

photo (11)

The Teaching Course Faculty

The course is special because we have captured the essence of why people attend conferences in the first return home feeling refreshed, enthusiastic, and ready to change the world. It’s the same feeling I had after attending the SMACC Gold conference earlier this year. It is going to be an awesome course that will change how you view medical education and how you teach.

Who believes in us?

Several international societies and blogs/podcasts have already endorsed the Teaching Course because they believe in the phenomenal educational product we deliver.


What faculty are teaching in the course?

The faculty makes this course. Besides the usual University of Maryland suspects (Rob Rogers, Amal Mattu, Haney Mallemat, Mike Bond, et. al.), we have quite an impressive line up of guest speakers for the course. Just imagine a medical education & social media course with the likes of Victoria Brazil, Joe Lex, and Anand Swaminathan…UNBELIEVABLE!!  And this year we have a new Social Media Liaison, Anand Swaminathan (Swami). Folks, it is going to be amazing.


Victoria Brazil


Joe Lex

Swaminathan Headshot 2013

The Infamous “Swami”

How is this course different from others?

The Teaching Course is different from the “usual customers” in medical education/teaching conferences in many respects. We have broken the traditional mold and have developed a truly unique blend of short, TED-like talks and workshops. And don’t forget the social media and FOAM. Mix all of these together and you have a recipe for a course that can change the world of medical education.

Here is a short list of some of the things we do to set ourselves apart:

  • Livestreamed content (video-FOAM)
  • Livestreamed panel discussions (with live questions moderated from Twitter)
  • Heavy integration of social media and FOAM
  • Well known, motivational, dynamic speakers
  • “Flip the Classroom” packet delivered to all paid registrants prior to the course
  • Organized social events throughout the week
  • Emphasis on medical education, social media, and FOAM that will actually make a difference in your work setting.
  • The Legacy Program-if you pay for and attend a course you can come back to any future course (for FREE) and teach in it!
  • Unique workshops like the “Twitter Lounge” and the “Podcast Lounge.”
  • Group dinners including a very nice graduation dinner on the 4th night of the course
  • Tons of networking opportunities
  • Hands-on social media, FOAM, and medical education labs
  • Live Tweetwall
  • The PKTeach Talk Contest (deadline Aug 31st)

And that is just a short list. I don’t have room to include everything.

What’s new for 2014?

Lost coming this year. Lots of cool stuff. We will continue to Livestream some of our course content for free, and then we will release select presentations throughout the year. We just started our Legacy Program, so remember if you attend you become part of the Teaching Course family. You can come back to any future course for free. We will also find a way for you to teach some in the course.

We also have a new contest for this year (short notice): The PKTeach Contest. Just develop a PK talk on what your plans are to change the world of medical education and send to us. A winner will be chosen, and that lucky person will win FREE tuition to the course!

PKTeach Contest

What guest speakers do we have lined up for 2015?

We can’t release that one yet. Let’s just say it’s going to be huge. HUGE!

For more information about the course check out our website: The Teaching Course

Remember the dates for this year: Oct 20-24. We still have some spots open, so get on it and make your booking!

Hope to see you in Baltimore, Maryland in October!


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Is Live Conference Tweeting a Good Thing?

Is Live Conference Tweeting a Good Thing? Welcome to the Twitter-at-a-conference debate…

IMG_0547What do you think about live conference tweeting? is it a good thing or a bad thing? Is it useful or useless? Overdone or should be done more? For this post we have Swami and Jesse going head to head to debate the topic. Please post your comments and get the discussion started.

Ladies and Gentlemen….I give you….Swami and Jesse….



Swaminathan Headshot 2013

9:01 AM – I’m late for the start of the talk so I grab a seat in the back row, pull my laptop out and try to log on to the  conference WiFi. The signal is strong but I can’t reload my Twitter. Typical of these conferences, the bandwidth is  terrible. Alright, switching to plan B. Flip my phone into hotspot mode and link up.

9:03 AM – I can see the link on my WiFi drop down but still not picking up. Wait, there’s the signal. Okay. Reload  Twitter. Oh, I’ve got some notifications!

9:10 AM – Alright, let’s get into the talk and get some pearls out on Twitter. Wait, did he say arthrocentesis? I thought  this was the palliative care talk. Damn, I’m supposed to be in the room two doors down.

9:15 AM – Let’s grab a seat in the back and hope I can find a signal . . .

If any of the above sounds familiar, consider yourself part of the Twitter-at-a-conference debate. This post is the con side of the discussion with Jesse Spurr (@inject_orange) giving the pro side. I find it to be an unenviable, and hypocritical, position to take based on my Twitter history. However, I think there are some major points that need to be considered. As I thought about the post, I came up with three points I think are worth discussing:

  1. Tweeting detracts from your conference experience
  2. Tweeting can blur the message of the speaker
  3. Tweeting is a poor surrogate for actually attending the talk

Point #1 – Tweeting detracts from your conference experience

I’ve spent the first 5 minutes of many lectures getting my laptop set up and trying to find a WiFi signal (in fact the above scenario is modified from day #2 at SAEM in Dallas this year). 5 minutes doesn’t seem like a lot of time, but often the highest yield points are in the intro. Additionally, that first 5 minutes sets up the rest of the talk so losing focus here can make it tough to see the lecturer’s point of view and where they’re going. A lot of conferences are moving to shorter talks as well so you can actually miss the majority of the talk during set up.

Since it’s limited to 140 characters, it would seem that sending a tweet about some point from a talk wouldn’t take very long. But it’s not always easy to get across a point with those limitations and often, tweets take a bit of rewriting to get it right. This means you may miss the next point or, perhaps more importantly, you miss the statement that clarifies the point you tweeted out.

A tweet you send out can also lead down a rabbit hole that drags you into a discussion/debate instead of paying attention to the talk you are in. Here’s a tweet I sent from a talk at SAEM on the Critically Ill Obese Patient:

Swami tweet

This tweet set off some nice discussion on dosing meds and we drew in some experts (Bryan Hayes – @PharmERToxGuy) but the danger here is to delve into the discussion while trying to take in the talk.

Here’s another example of a tweet that can easily take more time than you intended:

Swami obese

Without the image, the tweet carries little information but with the image, you take away a lot on the importance of ramping. However, in order to construct the tweet, you have to find the image and insert it. More time lost while the lecture moves on.

All of this is to say that you can easily get distracted from the content of the talk. Many would argue that tweeting is a way to incorporate the information you’re hearing. While there may be some truth to this, we must remember that multitasking is a myth and so creating tweets is likely to distract our minds from the information at hand.

Point #2 – Tweeting can blur the message of the speaker

Anyone who has given a talk (either locally, at a national conference, or even an international conference) knows the amount of time that goes into creating a quality lecture. Joe Lex estimates that a 1-hour talk takes 40 hours to produce. It’s clear that the speaker has invested a great deal of time into this process and has worked very hard to craft a distinct message.

Then along comes the tweeting attendee who attempts to paraphrase 40 hours of work into 5-6 140-character tweets. It’s no surprise that the speaker’s message is often lost, corrupted, misinterpreted etc. These errant tweets can often lead to more side conversations and clarification from the tweeter leading to more wasted time. While I think followers can learn from tweets, the quality of the education may not be nearly as powerful as one would hope.

Some of this also hinges on whether it’s fair to send these messages out without the speaker contributing. If the tweet contains an error it is often attributed as an error of the speaker and not of the tweeter.

All of this leads into point #3 . . .

Point #3 – Tweeting is a poor surrogate for actually attending the talk

I think this is fairly self-explanatory but a critical point nonetheless. As Social Media and FOAM explode many are attending conferences virtually. There’s a real benefit to this since there’s no way to get to all of these conferences but trying to get all of the benefit of a conference this way clearly doesn’t work.

Aside from being able to choose which talks you want to see and getting all the points (not just the sexy ones that get tweeted out) you lose the passion of the speaker for the topic which goes a long way to raising your own interest level. There are also the above issues with the message being misinterpreted or corrupted. Additionally, you lose the conversation with peers that occur naturally at conferences. Finally, when following remotely, you often lose the tweets you want to see among the bevy of tweets being sent.

And so this simply becomes a matter of where is your time best spent? Should I spend an hour catching up on tweets from SMACC Gold or should that hour be spent reading (blogs, journal articles etc.)? As with everything in medicine, this is a cost-benefit analysis.

So, should we be tweeting from conferences at all?

As I stated previously, it would be hypocritical of me to answer this question with a no. I believe there is role for tweeting during conferences but perhaps a more organized approach is needed.

  • Adding individual hashtags to conference tracks (or even individual sessions) would be helpful for those following along at home.
  • A twitter moderator on site to clarify tweets and to field tweeted questions from the live and home audience.
  • Lecturers sending their own live tweets – see the prior post on iTeachEM from John Greenwood on how to do this with Keynote Tweet v2.5.
  • Post-lecture Twitter (or Google +) hangout with the speaker to field questions

And now for the pro side of things…


Live Tweeting from Conferences

IMG_2700 In the affirmative corner, arguing for free dissemination of knowledge (hmmm sounds a bit like that FOAM concept I’ve  read about on the interweb), @inject_orange, the nurse from Australia. For this debate I am using my Twitter handle, as  after all, that is really all that matters. Detractors of live tweeting will have you think I am a frustrated wannabe doctor,  a disgruntled nobody, wishing my name was up in lights as keynote speaker. So what if I view the Symplur Healthcare  Hashtag stats as a leaderboard that I am striving to win? Isn’t this just a motivator to spread a wealth of pearls to my  loyal minions… um… followers… uh, I mean colleagues. This topic is obviously one that lends itself to a degree of  skepticism and I am the first to admit that, from time-to-time, over zealous distributors of the words of others set me to  hover a cursor over the ‘unfollow’. With the caveats applied and no doubt to be addressed in the negative site of this debate, I genuinely believe that the live event Tweet offers much to the event, the audience, and the individual Tweeter (beyond fame and the honor of the Symplur Hashtag arms-race).

The Event 

While acknowledging the limitations of ‘Impressions’ as a metric for quality or true distribution, they are a valuable tool to chart the potential audience for content delivered in a face-to-face academic meeting. When applying a research methodology to this process a relatively sophisticated phenomenological examination of the social educational structures and interactions of the audience is possible (see EMJ publication by Neill et al. 2013). To translate this to something applicable and not simply a marketing and demographic tool, consider evaluation of learning. The Kirkpatrick Model of Evaluation is arguably one of the most broadly accepted model of evaluation of learning outcomes from an education intervention. Most conferences, symposiums and meetings are only really able to demonstrate evaluation to a Level One standard.

The Kirkpatrick Model

Level 1: Reaction

To what degree participants react favorably to the training

Level 2: Learning

To what degree participants acquire the intended knowledge, skills, attitudes, confidence and commitment based on their participation in a training event

Level 3: Behavior

To what degree participants apply what they learned during training when they are back on the job

Level 4: Results

To what degree targeted outcomes occur as a result of the training event and subsequent reinforcement

The significant difference as an educator evaluating an event full of Tweeters (in comparison to the more traditional Likert scale based ‘happy sheet’), is the capacity for huge volumes of Level 2 evaluation data. Live Tweets are snippets of information that have been presented by a speaker, decoded by the audience, encoded in the context of meaning to the learner and re-presented as demonstrable piece of knowledge gained in this conference session. It would even be a reasonable assertion that with subsequent follow up Tweets on return to workplace such as:

“Used the NODESAT Ap Ox during RSI today, thanks @airwaycam #smaccGOLD” (fabricated for purpose of article – conglomerate of many post SMACC tweets)

We are able to begin to see Level 3 standards of evaluation. This level is very difficult to capture as an outcome from most structured large group educational endeavors.

The Audience

Large volume live Tweeting changes the dynamics of a conference audience. It brings previously passive delegates into the discussion in real-time, allows for live peer-review, sharing of links that augment the speaker’s presentation and navigation to like-minded colleagues that may otherwise sit on the other side of an auditorium with no commonality other than co-location.

The Individual

When used well, the live Tweet also allows the participant to decode, process and reflect on the content and reshape into an often paraphrased on consolidated point like a live reflective journal. Another common theme cited by proponents of the live Tweet, is the flattening of hierarchy and the confidence to voice an opinion. I can completely empathize with this view.

In terms of the less altruistic motives, such as increased profile and leader board monitoring, I believe that the motive does not degrade the outcome. If someone is willing to do something that clearly takes a degree of skill and logistics (have you seen how fast a smartphone battery dies when Tweeting?) and contributes to my learning as a fellow follower of FOAM, they deserve every bit of ego massage they get from taking out the Number 1 Influencer spot.

To wrap up, I would like to issue a personal thanks to Matt and Joe for contributing to my learning via Twitter from ICEM 2014 in Hong Kong. I was not there, but I learned several pearls via the number one and two Twitter Influencers of #ICEM2014 and was thankful for the great gift this conference gave me in evidence of how truly awesome live Tweeting can be (bad timing to be writing a negative argument hey Swami?). The profile of these two Tweeters further supports the assertion that selfish motives are rarely the driver of good live Tweeting (Matt = TV Star and Joe = EM and Medical Education Pioneer) – they didn’t need the fame.

Some Further Reading

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Brazil on Evidence-based Education

Victoria Brazil, perennial star of the SMACC conference, tackled another education topic at smaccGOLD last March.

Yep, evidence and education – are those too words meant to go together?

She asks ‘what works?’ and comes up with two valid answers: EVERYTHING and NOTHING.


Listen in and consider what outcomes we should really be measuring in medical education.

Here is the audio:

Here are the slides:

Here is the video:

To listen to all the smaccGOLD talks as they are released subscribe to the SMACC podcast on iTunes.

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Are You a Good Educator?

The iTeachEM Podcast is back with an interesting episode on a topic that is not that well understood….how do know if you are actually any good at teaching? Sounds like a simple question with perhaps an even simpler answer, doesn’t it? Well, three prominent educators, Simon Carley, Anand Swaminathan (Swami), and Natalie May will make you question what you think you know about this topic. Recently these three brilliant minds got together to discuss this topic that is pertinent to all educators. If you want to be a better educator then you MUST listen to this episode. We welcome comments and questions from the social media world. If you want to even be on the podcast, record an audio file pertaining to this topic and send to me.


iTeachEm educators




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The Global Classroom

There has been lots of discussion recently about the “flipped classroom” in medical education and how this is changing the face of education. Rob Cooney from iTeachEM and FlippedEM has done some great work with flipped classrooms. Well, this post isn’t really about the flipped classroom at all. It’s about the Global Classroom. More specifically, the Global EM Classroom.

Salman Khan, author of The One World School House, discusses his vision for learning out of the classroom with video instruction. In this book he discusses his thoughts on a “one world school house.” What he means by that is a vast network of online videos that are used to instruct students all over the world. Class time can then be spent discussing things that will help students in the real world and not just dishing out Power Point after Power Point.

khan book

My vision for how to teach is pretty similar to Khan’s. My vision, The “One World Emergency Department,” is all based on FOAM. The FOAM world of blogs, podcasts, websites, etc. is already a rich collection of educational materials that “students” all over the world take part in. This is the global classroom. The key is YOU can be one of the teachers in the classroom.

What is the Global EM Classroom?

The Global EM Classroom is the total sum of the audience for the educational products you develop and deliver online. Essentially, it’s the group of people affected by what you teach. It’s your “reach” in the world of social media. It’s your impact factor. If you are active on Twitter, have 12,000 followers, and routinely send out board review pearls then your global EM classroom is potentially huge.  Your impact can be enormous. If you watch people on Twitter and barely interact then your classroom is small. On the other hand,  In addition, all of those wonderful things you have created for the flipped classroom can be used in the global EM classroom. Go global with your flipping! Why confine your teaching to your local environment? Go global, share it with the world, and get your name and message out there.

Global Classroom

How can the Global Classroom help others?

This is pretty obvious. Teaching with social media can help learners from all over the world. Engaged people all over the world are on Twitter, Google+, etc. (sometimes too much) and learn from educators who contribute to “the classroom”. A lot of educational exchange takes place on social media. I have personally been contacted twice by physicians (outside the US) thanking me for teaching them an important pearl on Twitter. One case was a doctor who thanked me for sending out a pearl on Twitter that helped him successfully intubate an obese patient. I had tweeted out a picture of an obese patient ramped up on multiple pillows–thus bringing the ear level with the sternal notch. This “ear to sternal notch” positioning has been mentioned by Rich Levitan many times and is talked about rather extensively in his airway course. The second case was from a physician who thanked me for helping him “save a life” by tweeting out a pearl about how to diagnose atypical cases of acute aortic dissection. These are only two cases, but these two educational tidbits that I sent out made a difference in the global classroom. Don’t think your contribution to the classroom doesn’t make a difference.

How can the Global Classroom propel your career?

Social media can help you grow your career in a number of ways. Preparing and delivering educational materials online is one thing, but interacting with the recipients of this material is another. The Global EM Classroom is part of the larger concept of engagement. A few months ago I sent out a tweet asking people to list what twitter had done for their career. The response was overwhelming. Many good things happening to folks in the FOAMed world can be attributed to social media involvement.

  • I first met Chris Nickson and Mike Cadogan on Twitter. Yep, you heard me correctly, Twitter. This has led to invites to SMACC (Social Media And Critical Care) and collaboration in multiple other projects, including this blog, iTeachEM. Both of these guys are now good friends of mine. Mike Cadogan, who lives in Perth, Australia, has stayed at my house before and has even been to my kids’ soccer games! Chris Nickson, faculty for our Teaching Course in Maryland and a member of the Teaching Institute “think tank,” is a good friend of mine. We met on Twitter. No joke. Bottom line: engagement in social media leads to friendships that you can’t imagine. It works!
  • Social media will lead to project involvement that will boost your career.
  • Engagement and making new friendships in the FOAM world will make you happier. It’s true.
  • Your contribution to the classroom (blog posts, podcasts, etc.) makes the world a better place. People helping people. It’s very powerful.

Mike Cadogan trying to corrupt my kids…


Mike at my daughter’s soccer game…

How can you cultivate  your own EM Classroom and make a global impact?

Some tips for increasing your global impact:

  • If you aren’t on Twitter and contributing, why not? Get yourself setup and don’t be a “watcher.” You won’t regret it. A must read is Chris Nickson’s post on Top 10 Tips for FOAM Beginners
  • Get involved with contributing to the global education discussion: blogging, podcasting, etc. You don’t have to create your own blog or podcast. Talk to someone who already has one and get involved. Involvement leads to good stuff.
  • Start following people on Twitter who have the same interests as you. As an example, let’s say your interest is in endocrine emergencies. This is your clinical area of interest and you would like to grow and cultivate this within the framework of your career. Start following people with the same interest. Start following organizations that discuss this topic. Start contributing to the discussion. With enough energy and passion for your topic, the next thing you know you are on a guideline committee, speaking at a national or international meeting, and growing your CV and career. Yes, this message is for your, George Willis.
  • Create videos and share  with the world. Watch this quick little video by Sal Khan on how video is the future of education.
  • Engage, engage, engage with the world of social media and education.
  • Promotion and Tenure committees are slowly starting to pay attention to your impact. Sometimes very slowly, I realize that. But some committees have started paying attention to things like Google Analytics. If your blog has thousands of hits per day, and your podcast has over a million downloads (I know, we can’t all be Scott Weingart), schools and institutions will start paying attention to “the numbers.” This will likely become more common as old P&T committees turn over and the new guard takes over. I can dream can’t I?
photo (5)

Me with Stella Yiu and Ken Milne (from SGEM). What’s in the water supply in Canada? They have some excellent educators!!




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The Interplay of Emotions & Learning

Our goal should be to create a student who moves up the knowledge axis, along an “excelsior spiral that climbs the tree of knowledge” – Barry Kort

Rob & Chris’ debate about whether learning styles exist (or not)  touches upon a subtle, but important point. Forcing a student to come out of their comfort zone is important in the educational journey, in fact, there is likely a strong interplay between emotions & learning.  Many have attempted to identify the healthy amount of discomfort that’s necessary in the learning process, but I thought this paper by a group from M.I.T. highlighted some very important concepts.

In an attempt to engineer a computer application that could identify a student’s emotions, Kort highlights some theoretical concepts that are highly adaptable to medical education & other STEM courses.  The underlying principle of this paper is that there is a necessary cycle in learning that requires making mistakes, evaluating/reflecting about what went wrong, deconstructing false beliefs, discovering a potential solution, and ultimately repeating the cycle until the problem is solved.

Dr. Kort begins with the establishment of a static model that plots Positive/Negative emotions on the horizontal axis against Learning/Unlearning on the vertical axis. (below).

Emotions & Learning Model 1

Let’s briefly review this model and how it applies to medical trainees:

Students will often begin in the upper quadrants (I or II) – with a clinical question, interest, or endeavor.  This could be the result of an interesting patient, failed resuscitation, missed questions during a “pimping session” or whatever – but something that sparked an interest.   Quadrant III often is reached during a period of research or self-reflection.  During this time, the learner will likely identify knowledge gaps or misconceptions that currently exist.  The reflection, deconstruction, & unlearning process that ensues is likely the most critical.

After a period of failure, the learner will eventually progress to Quadrant IV where a new potential answer is identified, or a true solution is realized or understood.  Ultimately, the idea is that the student should traverse a series of both positive and negative emotions on their path to truly understanding the answer to their question.

So where does the educator exist within this process?

The authors contend that the instructors role is to help the student continue their path around the loop, as well as teaching them how to propel themselves especially after a setback.

Fluid Emotions & Learning Model

The last variable to consider is time, which can be added as a third axis (z-axis).  By incorporating time, the authors define the educator’s  role as that of a mentor, where the student progresses in an orbital fashion along an, “excelsior spiral that climbs the tree of knowledge.”  Essentially, building their knowledge base as they travel through this cycle of failure and success.


Some key pearls to take away from this paper include:

  • Learning is an active process that incorporates some degree of struggle.
  • Expert teachers are very adept at recognizing and addressing the emotional state of learners, and even more importantly – are able to effectively guide them through this learning cycle again and again.
  • Much of this theory focuses on the individual learner, however it is possible to incorporate these concepts into a lecture if necessary – see, “Make Your Audience the Hero”

Teachers who incorporate the cycle of learning and unlearning into the educational constructs of their classroom are (in my opinion) more effective educators.

Finally, there is something important about what this journey teaches students outside of the intended lesson plan, something that we’ll address next time – the value of GRIT.

Some parting questions to the educators out there:

      • Do you think some form of negative emotion is important to the learning process?
      • Is there actually value in allowing students to struggle?

Leave your thoughts below!


References [Free full text]

  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology Affective Computing Lab
  2. Kort B, Reilly R, Picard RW.  An Affective Model of the Interplay Between Emotions and Learning.
    Download Paper Here.

    Contact me on Twitter @JohnGreenwoodMD

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