Medical Students’ Use of Facebook for Learning

From 759 medical students from different year levels about 87% use Facebook, 55% used it daily. 25% used Facebook for educational reasons and one quarter of this group had used the Facebook group feature specifically for learning. Another 50% said they were open to using Facebook for learning in Med School.

Facebook may be used for teaching professionalism for medical students but other options exist as well. Facebook could provide support for student collaboration student generated content, communication and socialization of student work. What is clear from several studies is that educators are not part of educational use of Facebook. Educators were not part of the educational Facebook groups. Again students use Facebook and other social media more willingly for education than the university’s on line learning management system.

Facebook made it easy for students to initiate a study group quickly and informally. Then groups deployed its tools with varying success to exchange learning resources, information and advice and to maintain a sense of being in a learning community through announcements, conversations and records of shared activity.

Overall Facebook use is summarized as an informal study group, without connections with more professional oriented social networking sites. It makes peer learning convenient for members of the group. The balance between academic resource and socializing is a problem for some students. Some were distracted from learning due to the socializing character of the group. For educators it’s hard to advise students in the use of Facebook groups because Facebook is perceived as a social study place with privacy and equity. Using Facebook as a learning environment is as much a challenge for educators as for students.

If students have an open mind about using Facebook educationally, there is an opportunity and some prospect that they can use it to good effect during their studies. If students are motivated to maintain contribution, interest, regulation, social ties, a knowledge base and a structured approach to educational objectives, then the unique environment that Facebook offers has the potential to enhance their learning experience.
Gray, K., Annabell, L., & Kennedy, G. (2010). Medical students’ use of Facebook to support learning: Insights from four case studies Medical Teacher, 32 (12), 971-976 DOI: 10.3109/0142159X.2010.497826