Not “what I learnt” at The Teaching Course NYC

Thoughts on giving back from conferences and courses

On giving back

I attended the teaching course in NYC last November and it was great! I would recommend it to everybody interested in education. It really is a good package and Rob Roger‘s formed an awesome faculty that will energize you in your educational endeavours. The next installment is in Oz in July, after that it’s headed back to NYC in November, but it currently seems likely to be also coming to Copenhagen in the summer of 17, so a bit cheaper and more convenient for Scandinavians. Keep a lookout on

Anyway, I was tasked to give a talk to my unit yesterday and try to convey my key take homes from the course. This is the expected ‘pay back’ in our department for the investment in conference attendance.

Now while I was enthused about having been to TTCNYC and happy to share that feeling, I chose to use the podium to address an increasing frustration of mine. My main points were

  • Conference/course content and the related discourse and knowledge dissemination is increasingly coming online
  • “Giving back” in the form of a late rehash to an audience not having been and motivated mostly by having to attend is not optimal
  • There’s a (generational) divide at play between web2.0 users and non-users

Apart from the obvious difficulty of presenting any meaningful short synopsis of a 4 day work shop heavy course like TTCNYC or for that matter any big conference with loads of concurrents over multiple days, the fundamental absurdity is that in this web 2.0 era and especially when conducted by FOAM proponents, the content is pretty much up on the interweb already for everyone interested to see and judge for themselves. Have a look below for much of the content from TTCNYC15. How could I possibly try to convey anything beside and beyond that? Many of my colleagues had already seen many of these resources.

Furthermore, the key learning points are often already shared and digested online in real time during the course/conference on twitter and other platforms and remains accessible. Case in point, twitter had 700 active participants round the hasttag #TTCNYC15 during the conference of which only 73 were physically present as delegates. The 4000 tweets or so are still available and hold a great many references and educational nuggets. In many ways, I find that I already give back continuously from every conference and course I participate in – and not just to the people in my own department. It’s just in a format that’s invisible to many of my immediate colleagues. In my case at least, this takes up considerably more effort than preparing a presentation in front of my home crowd – in this case 7 months down the line. There seems to be a schism between how we conduct our ongoing CME and knowledge dissemination between different generations and I find this gap is a challenge to bridge. Those who are heavy users of web based platforms teach and learn rather separately from those who don’t. I miss a more general appreciation of the amount of learning that can be gained from engaging online, but also for the amount of effort that goes into this. Interestingly, one of the arguments raised against FOAMed use in the audience was a potential development where CME would be relegated to online activities in one’s spare time. I don’t think this is a realistic prospect, but I certainly empathise with the underlying feeling of inadequacy at filtering and consuming CME offerings and the work life balance that needs to be struck.

This dilemma is obviously most at play with conferences and courses that deliberately adopt an online and open access presence, but this is getting more and more popular with good reason. Arguably the primary raison-d’être for any conference is changing bedside practice by disseminating knowledge and facilitating discussions about evidence and best practice. The internet has proven to be a superb vehicle to reach many thousands who wouldn’t have had access otherwise. It’s an interesting dilemma though because we need somewhere to present the content in the first place and it’s hard to imagine headline catching talks going up online only. Large scale conferences are costly and need to cover expenses so there’s a legitimate worry that people wouldn’t show up if the content was not exclusive to attendees. The obvious counter example is the SMACC conference series which has become popular to a degree where tickets are sold out in hours even though all the talks will be available within months online for free. In this example the case seems to be that the more popular the speakers get online the more people want to be there for their presentations and the more people you network with online the more you want to go to a conference to get that live handshake and a shared drink. How the conference format will respond in general remains to be fully seen, but I have no doubt we’ll see a further blurring of the lines between offline and online.

Coming back to integrating lessons learned in your department, I will say that I do of course sometimes learn something at these regular “give back” meetings, especially with engaging presenters, on contentious matters where the debate is good and on topics that don’t have my primary interest, but I increasingly find that a lot of these “news from the frontier” presentations in my unit have been delivered more completely and engagingly online, and often a long time before. In those cases that’s a waste of time and effort on parts of the audience and, not least, the presenter.

Surely, time spend together is valuable in a shared practice setting like a department, but how do you make it more productive and engaging?

What do you think? How is “giving back” changing for you? What are you trying in your departments and what seems to be working? Are any of you formally incorporating ‘online’ in giving back? I’d love your thoughts below or on twitter.

This post has been amended a few times for elaboration on conference styles, language and nuance.

Online content from TTCNYC15


Natalie May (@_NMay): How to make awesome presentations

Awesome Presentations at #TTCNYC15

Natalie May (@_NMay): How to be a better learner

Be a Better Learner – Part One at #TTCNYC15

Be A Better Learner – Part Two at #TTCNYC15

Be A Better Learner – Part Three at #TTCNYC15

Simon Carley (@EMManchester): Educational theories you need to know about

#TTCNYC: Educational theories you need to know (about). St.Emlyn’s

Simon Carley et al: Session on getting feedback right

#TTCNYC Resources for feedback talk. St.Emlyn’s

Jesse Spurr (@Inject_Orange), resource page on goal directed simulation training

Goal Directed Simulation at The Teaching Course New York

Weingart (@emcrit): Presentation mastery (the updated 2016 version)

Podcast 192 – Powerpoint and Meth – Presentation Creation from #TTC

Weingart (@emcrit): John Hinds memorial lecture

George Willis (@DocWillisMD): Teaching medical students

Related resource

Ross Fisher‘s approach to presentation (p3 – p cubed)

For all of his content check his website, p cubed presentations and follow him on twitter.

How to prepare a presentation

Case study on preparation for specific talk

Lecture about presenting

[youtube profile=835×505]8Cl0xskA9fM[/youtube]


Mads Astvad
 | Website

Scandinavian paediatric anaesthetist / intensivist.
Digital MedEd
Co-organiser CphCC & TBS-Zermatt (aka The Big Sick)
Medical lead REPEL (resilience in pediatric emergency life support)
Web dev

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