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Social Media in Radiology Education - Part 1: Overview (social media and opportunity for education)

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This blog series about Social Media in Radiology Education is based on the talk I gave at the "Innovation in Medicine" panel session at the AUR (Association of University Radiologists) conference on April 12, 2013.

Because this is such a vast topic, I will split my blog posts into a series and will cover in each blog different areas. I will also present more contents in this blog than I could fit in my previous 20 minutes talk.

So, what’s coming? After reading this blog series, you should be able to:


  • Understand exactly what is “social media” and its potentials for Radiology education
  • To list a spectrum of social media sites and applications that can be used for Radiology education.
  • Apply solutions how these resources can help the way we educate today.
  • And finally identify how these resources may influence education in the (near) future.

Before we jump into the cold water, we have to ask ourselves: What is social media?

Social media refers to the means of interactions among people in which they create, share, and exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks [1]. It is a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content [2]. Social media are highly interactive platforms through which individuals and communities share, co-create, discuss, and modify user-generated content [3].

Social media furthermore introduces substantial and pervasive changes to communication between organizations, communities and individuals [3].




What is the trend in social media?

Trend in social media and role in medical education

Not surprising: Internet users spend more time with social media sites than any other type of site [4].

A little bit more surprising is the fact that the total time spent on social media (U.S.) across PC and mobile devices increased in 2012 by 37 percent:

But what’s staggering is the fact that people spent 121 billion minutes in July 2012 - compared to 88 billion minutes in July 2011 [4]!

This is ONLY ONE country (USA) and ONLY within ONE MONTH!

Trend in social media and role in medical education

So, instead of condemning this fact and trying to put a stop to this trend (similar as our parents condemned TV), we should ask ourselves if this trend offers opportunities for Radiology education?



An opportunity for education?

Trend in social media and role in medical education

Indeed, in other sectors or even areas of Medicine it has been proven that it has beneficiary outcome – on an individual but also a institutional and societal level. Networked learning is a process of developing and maintaining connections with people and information, and communicating in such a way so as to support one another's learning [5]. What might become even more appealing to administrators, industry and government is the fact that networked learning offers educational institutions more functional efficiency, and can reduce costs to employers and tax payers [6] !

Overall what benefits provide networked learning and social media:

  • Efficiently “stay in touch” with peers and professionals
  • Expand contacts with peers/colleagues beyond the boundaries of your institution (physically and metaphorically)
  • Establish education and research collaborations
  • Find help and consultations – quick and easy
  • Share information (text, images, videos, documents)
  • Learn from others you would usually never meet (due to time and location difference)


I think we clarified now that there is some use to social media in education. Let’s dig a little bit deeper and figure out a little bit more about “social media”.



Social media types

We use the term “social media” pretty loosely but mostly don’t recognize that social media has “different faces”. There is no ONE social media type. Actually, social media has been categorized into several categories/types.

Different types of social media [7]:

  • social networking sites (e.g. Facebook)
  • collaborative projects (e.g. Wikipedia)
  • blogs and microblogs (e.g. Twitter)
  • content communities (e.g. YouTube)
  • virtual game worlds (e.g. World of Warcraft)
  • virtual social worlds (e.g. Second Life)

What are the means/technologies used by social media?



Social media technologies

Social media use a variety of technologies to communicate with each other.

Most familiar examples are:

  • Blogs
  • Picture-sharing
  • Video-sharing
  • Wall-postings
  • Email
  • Instant messaging
  • Voice over IP
  • etc.

…and when combined with mobile devices it is called mobile social media. Mobile social media and role in medical education


That was part one, introducing you into the realms of social media and its potential role in Radiology education.



What’s coming next?

In the next blog I will discuss how to create your own social network. Stay tuned!



  1. Ahlqvist, Toni; Bäck, A., Halonen, M., Heinonen, S (2008). "Social media road maps exploring the futures triggered by social media". VTT Tiedotteita - Valtion Teknillinen Tutkimuskeskus (2454): 13.
  2. Kaplan Andreas M., Haenlein Michael, (2010), Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of social media, Business Horizons, Vol. 53, Issue 1 (page 61)
  3. H. Kietzmann, Jan; Kristopher Hermkens (2011). "Social media? Get serious! Understanding the functional building blocks of social media". Business Horizons 54: 241–251.
  4. "State of the media: The social media report 2012". Featured Insights, Global, Media + Entertainment. Nielsen. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
  5. Dirckinck-Holmfeld, L., Jones, C., and Lindström, B. (2009) Analysing Networked Learning Practices in Higher Education and Continuing Professional Development. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers, BV
  6. Steve Fox. Studying Networked Learning. Chapter 5 in Networked learning: perspectives and issues By Christine Steeples, Chris Jones. Springer 2002.
  7. Kaplan Andreas M., Haenlein Michael, (2010), Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of social media, Business Horizons, Vol. 53, Issue 1 (page 61)
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