#ASHA13 Navigating Twitter Terrain

ASHA Convention #ASHA13 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association 

Thursday 14th November 6.30-7.30pm (Chicago USA).  

Speech Language Pathologists Navigating Twitter Terrain: Publishing, Exchanging Information, and Engaging in Online Spaces

Presenting Authors: Bronwyn Hemsley, Tricia McCabe, Caroline Bowen


The workshop will begin with a panel presentation of three papers on research, teaching, and practice in relation to Speech Language Pathologist’s use of Twitter in relation to other social media. These papers will inform small group discussions on three scenarios around the use of Twitter by speech language pathologists.


Speech language pathology has, like the medical, nursing, and occupational therapy professions, experienced an increase in the uptake and use of social media Twitter for professional learning and networking on a global scale (Chaudry et al., 2012). More than any other social media platform, Twitter is known for its speed not only in publication but in response times and engagement – put to good use during emergencies (Bruns et al., 2012a, 2012b) and in tracking public health issues (e.g., Dredz, 2012; Lamb et al., 2012). Given its speed of publication and the rapid spread to a diffuse network, professional associations worldwide now recognize a need to provide guidance to their members on its use. With this recognition comes acknowledgement by associations that there are many ethical, legal, and practical issues to consider when health professionals venture into such public engagement online, and on a global scale (Bowen, 2012). In this panel presentation we will explore recent research, clinical practice, and teaching experiences involving the use of social media (Yahoo Groups, Twitter, Facebook and Blogs) to highlight various aspects of the use of Twitter in speech language pathology that are relevant to all stakeholders.

In Twitter, as in any other public social media forum, health professionals must repeatedly and conscientiously decide what information to exchange while negotiating the boundaries of: personal and professional identity or relationship; public and private engagement; being within and across discipline spaces; working in or across public and private spaces. Despite the stated central purpose of Twitter being for information exchange, there is to date little research to guide clinicians in their use of Twitter for professional purposes, including continuing professional development purposes. There is no information available on how Twitter might be used as a mode of practice by speech language pathologists. This panel aims to engage with the audience in determining what is important to individual SLP delegates either as a consumer of Twitter information, a producer of Twitter information, or as the subject or object of a Tweet. These areas will be canvassed specifically regarding speech language pathology, and in the context of other social media channels and other purposes for using the social media platforms.



Part A: Panel Presentations

Three short presentations based on recent research will be delivered to stimulate discussion during the following panel.

  • Dr Bronwyn Hemsley will present the results of recent research, 22 students and academics were included in focus group research exploring the use of Twitter for teaching and learning speech language pathology.
  • Dr. Tricia McCabe will enlarge upon the emerging professional and ethical issues raised by students of speech language pathology along with the hopes and concerns for academics in regards to how to prepare professional students for a future successful and ethical practice in a social media environment.
  • Dr Caroline Bowen will discuss Twitter relative to electronic communication, including on- and off-list posts to listservs and Yahoo! Groups, blog posts and public and private blog comments, and private, sometimes confidential or sensitive information that is entered in contact forms on websites. Caroline will illustrate some of the ethically, morally and legally  ‘murky territory’ of the social media landscape, and unexpected pitfalls and a range of benefits of life online (Bowen, 2013).

Part B: Small Group Discussion on Scenarios

Using the short presentations as the context for discussion, and asking delegates to draw upon their own experiences, each presenter will facilitate one of three small discussion groups on hypothetical scenarios.

Conclusion: Large Group and Questions

Outcomes of the small group discussions will be collated in the large group and a final summative statement on priorities for future clinical research areas on the use of Twitter will conclude the session. There will also be time for questions to the panel. This presentation will follow the ethical guidelines of internet research and publication (Williams, 2012) in that no information that might identify parties to social media interactions will be provided in this presentation. We will also ask the audience to respect confidentiality surrounding information known from Twitter that might not be general knowledge.



Bowen C. (2012). Webwords 44: Life online. Journal of Clinical Practice in Speech-Language Pathology, 14(3), 149-152.

Bowen C. (2013). Webwords 46: Social media in clinical education and continuing Professional Development. Journal of Clinical Practice in Speech-Language Pathology.

Bruns A, Burgess JE, Crawford K, Shaw F, (2012) #qldfloods and @QPSMedia: Crisis communication on Twitter in the 2011 South East Queensland floods – Research Report p1-58. Retrieved from: http://eprints.qut.edu.au/48241/

Bruns A, Liang Y, (2012) Tools and methods for capturing Twitter data during natural disasters, First Monday p1-8

Chaudhry, A., Glode, M., Gillman, M., & Miller, R. S. (2012). Trends in Twitter use by physicians at the American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting, 2010 and 2011. Journal of Oncology Practice, 8(2),  173-179.

Dredze, M. (2012). How social media will change public health. IEEE Intelligent Systems. 27(4), 81-84.

Lamb, A., Paul, M. J., & Dredze, M. (2012). Investigating Twitter as a source for studying behavioural responses to epidemics. AAAI Fall Symposium on Information Retrieval and Knowledge Discovery in Biomedical Text. Retrieved from http://www.cs.jhu.edu/~mdredze/publications/aaai_2012_flu_concern.pdf

Williams, S. G. (June 2012). The ethics of internet research. Online Journal of Nursing Informatics (OJNI), 16 (2), Available at http://ojni.org/issues/?p=1708

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