Last week I was at a conference about medical education (IAMSE) in St Andrews (Scotland). One lunch-time session was about the use of twitter to do long distance (and long time period) journal clubs. If you’re not familiar with what a journal club is, this is something that occurs commonly in academia (particularly in  scientific and medical research institutions) where someone selects a recently published academic journal paper and with a group of colleagues and/or students, get together in a room and discuss the paper in detail.

The twitter angle is where the discussion occurs unsurprisingly via tweets (using an agreed hash tag), but may continue for a week.

While thought this was a great idea I pondered whether there might be a need for a very simple web app that would:

(i) provide a host, i.e. the person selecting the paper and organising the journal club, to advertise the upcoming journal club, provide links to appropriate literature (so people can prepare), and at the end, provide a summary and perhaps a link to a Storify

(ii) provide a user the ability to search/browse up coming journal clubs, access relevant information, set a diary date, perhaps even register interest in an up-coming journal club

The web app would be very simple – the actual twitter discussion could take place on any platform (TweetChat, Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, etc…). So far I’ve created mock-ups/work flows using Balsamiq – as much as to think through the problem as to define requirements. Next stage is to code it. I seriously considered using PHP but I wanted to take an object-orientated approach and OO PHP is not something I’m familiar with but looks pretty awful compared to C#. So I want to use .net and C# – but I want it to look good, and to most easily do that then Twitter Bootstrap is a great option. Worried that that might a hellish to implement within a standard .net web form I reckon using MVC 4 would be the best approach.

A package for visual studio 2012 for Bootstrap + MVC is available (installed using Nuget) looks to simplify things a great deal but I still have a significant hill to climb in order to get grips with MVC, never mind Bootstrap. And that, essentially, is what this exercise is all about: learning the basics of MVC.

To be continued…