Social media in health professional education: a student perspective on user levels and prospective applications.Adv Health Sci Educ Theory Pract. 2014 Feb 25;
Authors: Maloney S, Moss A, Ilic D
Social Networking Sites (SNS) have seen exponential growth in recent years. The high utilisation of SNS by tertiary students makes them an attractive tool for educational institutions. This study aims to identify health professional students' use and behaviours with SNS, including students' perspectives on potential applications within health professional curricula. Students enrolled in an undergraduate physiotherapy program were invited to take part in an anonymous, online questionnaire at the end of 2012. The survey consisted of 20 items, gathering demographic data, information on current use of SNS, and opinions regarding the application of SNS into education. Both quantitative and qualitative data were gathered. A total of 142 students, from all years of study, completed the online questionnaire. Only two participants were not current users of social media. Facebook and YouTube had been utilised for educational purposes by 97 and 60 % of participants respectively; 85 % believed that SNS could benefit their learning experience. Only five respondents were not interested in following peers, academic staff, clinicians or professional associations on Facebook. Four key themes emerged: peer collaboration, need for separation between personal and professional realms, complimentary learning and enhanced communication. Students wish to make educational connections via SNS, yet expressed a strong desire to maintain privacy, and a distinction between personal and professional lives. Educational utilisation of SNS may improve communication speed and accessibility. Any educator involvement should be viewed with caution.