The Faculty Blogosphere will be pleased to know that the senior team in the faculty believe that “Our Blog” is an overwhelming success;…

…there is strong likelihood we will propose that it is adopted as a University Key Performance Indicator or metric for the forthcoming Teaching Excellence Framework assessment. We are set to shine!

However before our mutual back-slapping becomes too painful, it may be wise that a critical eye is adopted and check any evidence that backs this claim. And if there isn’t any, we may need to alter our Blog Appeal or marketing. Realising that this may either portray me as a Social Media Dinosaur (perish the thought) or an evangelical advocate of clinical audit, I prefer to consider this an extension of Evidence Based Practise to University Management [a combination as likely as John Perry utilising Donald Trump speeches as best practice in a “Breaking News to Patients” workshop].

A main purpose of the blog was to connect with staff and students. In any large organisation, particularly when members are dispersed, there is risk of disconnections. Although we never intended the blog to be the equivalent of a group hug from Faculty Leadership Team (FLT) to “spread the luuv” (I am unaware of this being part of the student experience in any UK Medical School, let alone Leafy Hampshire), forgive us if we imagined it would be a metaphorical fist-bump from the Dean.

Suspicion was raised that the beta-interferon responses to our glorious literary works were still in the normal range [hadn’t gone viral?], when I asked a couple of my tutees whether they read either the newsletter or blog. Both very polite, their silent “I really haven’t got a clue what you are talking about” smiles, indicated I shouldn’t pursue this line of questioning if I wanted to preserve my street credibility.

One problem with a means of communication that doesn’t include eye to eye contact, is that you don’t know whether the audience (i.e. the blogosphere) consists of thousands of appreciative readers (many pointing you out as you choose between a BLT or Cajun chicken wrap in M&S-UHS entrance) or just the 15 members of the Faculty Leadership team (a cocooned gang of Get-a-Life-Billy-No-Mate-Bloggers). One’s suspicion is that the readership is somewhere between these two extremes, depending on levels of delusional self-importance or self-deprecation.

There are approximately 1600 students in the faculty (undergraduate, masters, PhD and DM) and probably close to 1000 members of staff, all of whom should receive the faculty newsletter. The maths isn’t difficult: n = a big number, more than 1000 and less than a million [please, we are not calculating the minute-1.kilogram-1 dosage of IV dopamine for inotropic support to a 3.56kg infant].

So, echoing the words of Stacey Bridges “Who Are You?” By this, I actually mean the number of blog readers. Well, by “readers” I actually mean those who bothered to click on the link, Google Analytics records webpage hits rather than knowing if the page contents has been read. There is every possibility they navigated away rapidly realising there are far more engaging or relevant activities, such as a cup of tea sat in front of ITV Coronation Street -more of this later!

So the data for the blogs thus far: N=13. µ = 158 (SD = 95).

For the less “Stats-Savvy” in the faculty (and being honest I include myself in this category), “µ” is not a condensation of “Me and You” but the mean or average; not an estimate, but the real value. In other words, on average, 158 people had read each blog. Deduct 14 for the other members of FLT (I am sure we all read each other’s), the loyal admin, research support, HR, marketing and finance staff (conservative estimate ~30), which leaves about 110 fist-bumpers per blog. Not exactly viral.

So the response? Perhaps it is time for this Blog to Go Tabloid.

By tabloid I mean attention grabbing headlines, “Give Them What They Want” journalism stirred up with an economy of the truth. Oh yes, and a PRIZE COMPETITION. Not quite Scratch Card Bingo or Spot the Ball, but I will think of something by the end of the blog and also prizes. Perhaps the iconic stress-relieving UoS Boats and UoS branded 2Gb USB sticks.

ITV Soap Broadcasts Southampton University Exam Answers

I can reveal to you that an Associate Dean’s Guilty Pleasure is the nation’s favourite TV soap, Coronation Street. More commonly known for its Northern Grit, a deal has been struck with the University of Southampton to embed Years 1 and 2 BM5 Genetics learning outcomes within Coronation Street storylines. In a bold move aimed at enhancing the student experience, current broadcasts have concealed exam answers for students lucky enough to be watching the Soap. In dramatic scenes, Steve MacDonald, love-rat of the Rovers Return, recently discovered his 50% risk of Myotonic Dystrophy. Playing out in a sensitive but accurate way, the story is set up to explore ethical issues of consent (YR2) and prenatal testing (YR1+2), together with inheritance patterns and risk assessment (YR1).

So for naïve readers (and not those Closet Corrie Fans, pretending not to know), this should bring you up to speed (and hoping that you can spot potential exam answers).

  • Michelle (screen right), is married to Steve MacDonald. Michelle is pregnant by Steve.
  • Leanne (screen left), is not married to Steve, but is pregnant by Steve.
  • Leanne knows that Michelle is pregnant and knows Steve is the father.
  • Michelle knows that Leanne is pregnant, but doesn’t know Steve is the father. 

Now watch here

  • Nick (screen right) is partner to Leanne, and knows Steve (entering screen left) is the father.

Watch here now

[Tabloid journalism aside, the sensitive and realistic way this is being portrayed so far has been commended, in particular by patient support groups. It isn’t clear how story lines are chosen, but the accuracy and detail suggests guidance from informed individuals with personal experience, whether health care professionals or families. Probably both.]



Email answers to and include in the subject line “Faculty Blog Breaks Internet”. Separate prizes for first correct answer from an Undergraduate, Masters, PhD and DM student.

It is rumoured large video screens are to be erected outside the Southampton Students Union so that students without TV licences can watch tonight’s episode. See you all there!

Keeping it Real


David Wilson

Professor David Wilson

Associate Dean International    


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