The Weller Journey Continues: 2002-2011

This week’s reading from Weller (2020) took me on a ed tech journey through 2002-2011 which I found fascinating as I reflected on where I was at the time.  The chapter on Twitter and social media was interesting as it gave me a better understanding of how Twitter had initially been used and the Between the Chapters: Twitter & Social Media podcast (Pasquini, 2021) just solidified it.  Listening to Sue Beckingham and Chrissi Nerantzi share their personal experiences about figuring Twitter out to discovering how they were able to create online networks which formed into online connections/relationships and then the experience of meeting these connections face to face illustrates the positive aspects during those early years compared to the challenges facing Twitter at present time. 

Weller (2020) mentions the blurring of the lines between professional and personal on social media and this is an issue that continues to be challenged in my profession that our regulatory college had to create a Social Media interpretation guideline (2018) for its registrants.  These new ways of connecting online outside of our clinics posed new challenges.  Many of us form close relationships with our patients because we see them on a regular basis and personal information is disclosed at those appointments that they become “friends” or seem like “family” so then how do you NOT accept invites to follow or be followed?  Or how do you decline a “friend” who is asking you to follow them so they can share information about their personal views on topics such as anti-fluoride which do not align with your practice philosophy?  On the other hand, what happens if a dental professional blogs or tweets against fluoride yet continues to work in a profession where the evidence clearly supports the use of fluoride in the prevention of cavities?  Misalignment of practice philosophies can have serious consequences for the professional and the dental office they work at.

Weller (2020) makes the point of how Twitter was able to democratize the academic space.  I believe this to be the case for some disciplines but not all especially in those highly specialized disciplines where there is value placed on your training, experience and research.  At dental conferences, speakers bring their clinical and research experience to share with colleagues and will share their social media links to connect and answer questions. Twitter or social media is used to connect those using new techniques or to discuss individual cases.  However, challenges around professionalism, confidentiality and ethics can arise when posting and sharing online.  In addition, I believe that because there is value placed on your training that many of these institutions are less than willing to re-imagine how their programs could be moved to a more open and less regulated one.  


College of Dental Hygienists of British Columbia. (2018).  Interpretation guidelines:  Social media

Pasquini, L. (Host). (2021, March 24). Between the chapters #16 being in community on Twitter & social media with @suebecks & @chrissinerantzi. [Audio podcast episode]. 25 Years of Ed Tech: The Serialized Audio Version Bonus.

Weller, M. (2020). 25 Years of Ed Tech. Athabasca University Press.

4 thoughts on “The Weller Journey Continues: 2002-2011”

  1. As someone not in the dental or medical field , it’s so interesting to peak into the different considerations in that specific field. In the event a colleague or online connection is publicly posting something against the professional community stance it’s hard to know how to respond (or not responding at all)! In a MALAT context we generally encourage challenging practice or having a debate, but I can see that not being helpful in an instance like fluoride use. Can you share some of the strategies dental professionals have used to have a social media presence?


    1. Hi Zac,
      Yes, agreed that it is difficult to balance personal and professional if there is difference in beliefs/practice. As health care professionals, we are regulated/licensed by a professional body whose role is to “protect the public”. Should we be found blogging or posting “wrong information”, it could potentially land us in hot water. That being said, there are offices who may offer alternatives to fluoride which can align better with a professional who is anti-fluoride. Dental clinics may have their own blogs but again they need to ensure that the information that is posted is accurate and evidenced based. Thanks.

  2. Hello Gail,

    Nice seeing you at the discussion today. I agree with Zac that it is interesting to have a glimpse into the considerations of different fields, specifically that of the dental and medical field as well as the questions around what happens when a professional tweets or posts opinions that contradict clear evidence in the field.

    It is true that the lines between the professional and the personal have blurred in these digital spaces. In recent years I have backed away from social media. I feel that even when I do not post personal material on social media, I am sometimes disappointed in students personal and political opinions and do not want them to color my understanding of them. I have quit Facebook but kept Instagram as a tool to connect with students on a more personal level outside of the class but still keep a robust suite of tools such as Google.doc, WhatsApp, Teams and more to keep in close touch with them during our courses. Have you felt the need to pull back from social media for professional reasons?

    1. Hi Sam,
      Nice to see you as well. Thank you for sharing. I never got into social media as I never felt the need. So, I haven’t had to pull back from social media because was never there. Personally, I think it’s odd to have a patient “friend request” you. Maybe it’s my old school thinking that a patient is not a friend and I had challenged my students to remember that when they started working in clinics. I agree that it can be upsetting to hear people’s views on things especially when it goes against yours but maybe lucky for me I can tip the dental chair back and insert an instrument in their mouth to get them to stop talking. In my work, I have to respectfully listen/head nod to those wanting to share personal views on some “hot topics” and then carefully navigate the conversation to “safer topics”. Have you heard of Ask-Tell-Ask communication technique? This technique can be helpful in starting conversations in safe, respectful way. Let me know if you have further questions. Thanks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *