As a person straddling the divide between “Digital Native” and “Digital Immigrant”, I always felt like I should know more about the technology that is coming and going around me. I had a facebook account, but never felt comfortable with the idea that tools like social media could be used effectively in the educational context.

Boy, was I wrong.


The Harvard Macy Institute course on “Becoming a Digital Citizen” in 2015 was an engaging and clever set of teachings and activities that explored the myriad of tools out there for educators and how they could be used to optimal effect in educating people. Here are my top 3 take-home nuggets that I would like to share with everyone:

1. Don’t be dazzled by the lights

Just because you know HOW to use a tool, doesn’t mean you should actually USE the tool. Teaching pedagogy has to come first, as it would in any educational situation, and if all you are going to do is make something more complicated without educational effect then all you do is get in the way of learning. So learn a little restraint.

2. Scan the stream

One of the biggest “ah-ha” moments for me was in learning about RSS feeds and how to make use of them for personal up-to-date education in a way that doesn’t make your head explode. As Neil Mehta said – “there is no such thing as information overload, just filter failure”. You can pick and choose the journals and sources you like to quickly scan each day for anything new without having to go directly to anywhere. You can even do it in your pyjamas.

3. Stay connected

I was particularly impressed by the various google apps, including Google+ and Google Drive, which allow people across huge distances in geography and time to stay connected in an easy way through google communities. It sometimes feels difficult to stay connected with people after intense courses like the Harvard Macy Institute courses – not anymore.

As always I leave Boston full of ideas, connected with new friends and colleagues, and now better able to engage and thrive in the digital world with my peers and students.

Andrew MJ Linn

Dr Andrew MJ Linn is a General Practitioner in South Australia, and a Senior Lecturer at The University of Adelaide, South Australia. His research interests are in clinical reasoning, assessment and curriculum design, and he is a returning scholar faculty for the Harvard Macy Institute course “A Systems Approach to Assessment in Health Professions Education.” He is also a classically trained singer, performing with the Adelaide Chamber Singers and the State Opera of South Australia chorus.