Research Flashmobs: An online journal club using Social Media

Anne-Marie Borneuf @MMUPreRegNurse1 – Manchester Metropolitan University

I wanted to look at innovative ways of teaching research skills outside of the classroom. I had set up paper based nursing journal clubs in previous curricula, which had received mixed feedback from the students as it was seen as an additional unnecessary workload, when assessments where due. My concern, as a teacher, was the limited contact time I had with my third years when they were working on their Dissertation, especially leading up to submission. In an effort to maintain student contact and enhance their research skills, I developed an online teaching activity, which was un-intrusive to the student. The session was voluntary and pitched as an optional supplemental cohort activity.

I took the Tweetchat concept and modified it so that unit tutors and students read the same journal article that I posted onto Twitter via our Online Library network at MMU, with two weeks’ notice. Utilising the Hashtag (#) process of trending all the unit members (staff and students) responded to questions that I had tweeted about the article at the predetermined time. Staff and students engaged in an online discussion about a research article wherever they were, in their own social space, an activity not to dissimilar to the Flashmob concept that is understood to be a large public gathering, typically organised by means of social media via the internet.

With September 11 (n=64) cohort there was 42% student engagement. During the rest of the week following the session, the students who had participated where literally buzzing with excitement at how much they had enjoyed it, given the novelty factor. Other beneficial points raised were sharing their learning and experiences, the instant dialogue; having their experiences valued as equally important and they felt empowered by contributing to the conversation.