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martes, 6 de junio 2023
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From the University Classrooms to the Networks, New Ways of Disseminating Information

By: Johansson Cruz Lopera - Journalist

Social networks are a powerful channel for dissemination and communication. Some professors and researchers at Universidad de Antioquia have seen this potential for their work in classrooms and research groups. Clear, easy-to-grasp and simplified information is the common point.

El profe Builes, Las Marías al Aire, Jorge Zuluaga and Tu psicólogo en casa are some of the profiles of UdeA professors and graduates that shine on social networks.

To say that the world has changed, that we live in different times and that the digital era has changed people’s relationships is now a cliché. Technological advances are moving at such an accelerated speed that most individuals barely understand the use of these applications daily, which comes almost naturally. One such case is social networks, which only became popular in the 2010s, although they seem to have been around forever.

Now, we talk about artificial intelligence, algorithms, and influencers as naturally as people spoke about the light bulb, the iron and steel industry, the telegraph, and motor vehicles after the Industrial Revolution. "Most people are alive in an earlier time," said Canadian theorist Marshall McLuhan in 1960, but he may never have imagined that today's generations live in a constant future.

In this context, social networks are today's most effective and fastest communication channels. Being on them is no longer a fashion; some see it as a necessity not only for personal purposes but for academic and scientific ones. As with everything on the Internet, the information that circulates is only sometimes reliable or correct. "There is an abundance of information on the networks without any theoretical support or scientific basis," said Jorge Mario Rubio Sánchez, a psychologist with a master’s degree in clinical psychology and professor at the Faculty of Social and Human Sciences of UdeA. He is behind the Instagram account @tupsiciologoencasa, which focuses on mental health and addictions.

This is one of the motivations for some UdeA professors and graduates to have a more active presence on the platforms: to disseminate their work as researchers and counteract misinformation.

El profe Builes 

View this post on Instagram.

Instagram: @elprofebuiles / 34,000 followers

Behind the account of the popular Prof. Builes is the endocrinologist Carlos Alfonso Builes Barrera, a professor at the Faculty of Medicine of UdeA. Although he initially used social networks for personal purposes, like most of his colleagues and, now and then, to give some explanation about his area of expertise, his students encouraged him to create more content because they grasped something in one minute of his videos that took them a long time to learn in class.

"That gave me the drive to take the leap to think of something more collective that could help and generate knowledge: something simple, practical, and straightforward but with the power to give concrete words and some advice for daily life," said Prof. Builes.

He also adds that he has "received messages from students who answered a question correctly in the residency admission exam because of some videos they watched. Interns constantly thank me because they recall a detail or procedure thanks to the videos. What we are doing is worthwhile!  

Tu psicólogo en casa 

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Instagram: @tupsicologoencasa / 2,064 followers.

To deal with the misinformation that proliferates on the networks and consumes his students and patients, Jorge Mario Rubio Sánchez created the profile @tupsicologoencasa on Instagram. He is a psychologist with a master’s degree in clinical psychology and a professor at the Faculty of Social and Human Sciences of UdeA. 

The initial goal was to send mental health and addiction prevention messages in an accessible language. "It has allowed me to bring information to young people and adolescents who don't seek out traditional media. This helps these patients perceive a therapist who can connect with them and break down stereotypes about mental health professionals, who can be very stuffy and serious," he explained. 

The topics he discusses in some videos are covered in class with his students and have helped many patients to educate their families. " They realize that psychotherapy, at least the one I do, is nothing more than the relationship between human beings or between two individuals who have a lot of dimensions."

Las Marías al aire 

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Instagram: @las_mariaire / 1,512 followers

The project Las Marías al Aire resulted from the meeting of four friends: Laura Romero, Kamila Giraldo, Susana Vargas, and María Salomé Mejía. They studied Public Health at Universidad de Antioquia and were part of the program Jóvenes Talento Salud (Youth Health Talent). Later they became part of the Health and the Environment research group, attached to the National Faculty of Public Health. 

"The pandemic motivated us to build an idea for science dissemination on social networks. Awareness was gradually generated about the importance of creating a network among young women in science because gender gaps persist; we experience them," said Kamila. She currently works in the Office of Relations and Strategic Communication of the National Faculty of Public Health. 

"We have two main objectives: the dissemination of knowledge on public health issues in a simple, straightforward way so that everyone can access information, which is a human right. The other objective is a gender issue: to encourage and promote girls in science so that they can participate in this space," said Susana Vargas. 

They consider that social networks have been a pivotal point to start working on scientific dissemination. 

Jorge Zuluaga

Instagram: @zuluagajorge / 7,295 followers

Twitter: @zuluagajorge / 20,800 followers

Tik Tok: @zuluagajorge / 140,700 followers

When discussing disseminators at UdeA who use social networks, perhaps the first name that comes up is Jorge Zuluaga, physicist, PhD in particles and coordinator of the undergraduate astronomy program. 

More than 150,000 accounts follow him on his social networks. "It happened very spontaneously, as it has happened to almost everyone. After some time on social networks, you begin to develop ideas about your work; in my case, scientific dissemination," noted the researcher. 

He sees a compelling means to propagate ideas on the networks. "They have an impressive power of reproduction that other media do not have. Neither radio nor television at their best had such an impact. This makes dissemination more powerful," he said.

Prof. Jorge refers to studies, especially in the Anglo-Saxon world, where it has been demonstrated that the importance of the presence on networks can increase the impact of scientific work: "I believe that the way science is done and disseminated today needs social networks. It is very respectable that some colleagues are disconnected from the networks, but the truth is that I think they are losing a huge communication opportunity." He added that "scientific articles that have publications linked to social networks get more citations from colleagues. The presence on social networks is a part of the communication of science."

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