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Medical students use Facebook to interact with one another both socially and educationally. This study investigates how medical students in a UK medical school use Facebook to support their learning. In particular, it identifies the nature of their educational activities, and details their experiences of using an educational Facebook group. Twenty-four medical students who self-identified as being Facebook users were invited to focus groups to attain a general overview of Facebook use within an educational context. A textual analysis was then conducted on a small group of intercalating medical students who used a self-created Facebook group to supplement their learning. Five of these students participated in semi-structured interviews. Six common themes were generated. These included ‘collaborative learning’, ‘strategic uses for the preparation for assessment’, ‘sharing experiences and providing support’, ‘creating and maintaining connections’, ‘personal planning and practical organization’ and ‘sharing and evaluating educational resources’. Evidence from this study shows that medical students are using Facebook informally to enhance their learning and undergraduate lives. Facebook has enabled students to create a supportive learning community amongst their peers. Medical educators wishing to capitalize on Facebook, as a platform for formal educational initiatives, should remain cautious of intruding on this peer online learning community.
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- Medical students’ use of Facebook for educational purposes
- Bohn Stafleu van Loghum