As we find more and more technology surrounding us, we want to be certain that we are using it effectively, especially with radiology education. There is a general tendency to overuse new technologies, which can lead to confusion, rather than as an assisting device when attempting to teach a complicated subject. Over the past decade, a variety of technology-driven learning strategies, variously referred to as computer-based, distributed, Web-based, Internet-based, and/or online learning, have been described for use in medical education [1
]. In a study evaluating radiology education, 97% of surveyed radiologists stated that they used the internet for radiology education [6
]. Though 45% of participants in the survey said they used the internet for continuing medical education (CME), an institutionally run course was selected most frequently as the preferred method of CME, as well as the most effective and efficient [6
]. In this era of smart phones and mobile interactive devices, a majority of us, particularly those of us in medicine, are able to receive instant information and immediate feedback. We have used this wave of technology as a novel educational tool in our conferences.
The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) accredits organizations that grant CME credits to individuals who participate in approved educational activities, including conferences [7
]. Accreditation requires detailed description of the objectives of a conference and methods and delivery of the educational material. The mission of educational conferences is to improve the CME learning and interactivity. The ACCME promotes multi-lateral learning methods to better encourage and enhance physicians and other health care professionals’ learning experience. The ACCME is phasing in new criteria for accreditation from 2008 to 2012, requiring CME providers to assess the impact of their interventions [8
The actual content of conferences is varied. Some conferences are an overview of radiology while others are an intensive review of a radiology subspecialty. Conference attendees may include general radiologists, subspecialists, and radiology trainees, as well as non-radiology physicians and technologists. The audiences will have large variations in knowledge and skills, particularly based on their practices. It can be difficult to deliver meaningful education to such a diverse group of participants simultaneously. Conference organizers try to carefully prepare with specific objectives for the event with digital and/or hardcopy material to supplement the didactic and case presentations. However, it is often difficult to gauge the educational level of a diverse audience, and many participants may be left with questions. Since the days of radiology residency onward, most practitioners can recall personal experiences of the “hot seat conference.” In the conference setting, an individual may not be put “on the spot” but nevertheless may feel intimidated at asking questions. These questions may be perplexing other learners as well. It would also be helpful for speakers to have an understanding of the comprehension of the audience during and after their talks.
Radiology conferences increasingly enable participants the opportunity to question experts in the field. Traditionally, question and answer (Q and A) sessions have involved speakers at a podium with attendees posing questions in front of the audience. Alternatively, attendees may approach individual speakers after the session, but the time frame is limited and both of these scenarios can be intimidating. Furthermore, it may be difficult for a speaker to accurately convey and quickly describe a complex concept. Audience response systems have been used to allow an indirect interaction with the panel/speaker asking questions to the audience, but not for specific questions from the audience, instead of from the speaker. Given these limitations, we incorporated text messaging as a method of improving interactivity between the speakers and audience and a CME conference.