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Medical student perspectives on the application of social media in higher education [Letter]

Authors Salha A, Abbass A, Islam S

Received 9 August 2019

Accepted for publication 9 August 2019

Published 22 August 2019 Volume 2019:12 Pages 725—726

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/PRBM.S226626

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Editor who approved publication: Professor Igor Elman


 
Ahmad Salha, Ahmed Abbass, Samsul Islam

Faculty of Medicine, St. George’s Hospital Medical School, London, UK

Correspondence: Ahmad Salha
Faculty of Medicine, St George’s Hospital Medical School, Cranmer Terrace, London SW17 0RE, UK
Tel +44 777 955 5525
Email ahmad_salha@hotmail.co.uk
 
We read the article by Guraya et al1 with great interest. We were fascinated by the idea that social media could be integrated into medical curricula and be used as an educational platform in the future. As medical students who use various social networking sites (SNS) for both educational and recreational use, we wish to offer our opinion on this topic.
Guraya et al1 suggest that social media’s role in higher education is currently under-utilised and has greater potential in the future. Cheston et al2 explored the effects of integrating social media tools into medical curricula. Their work found that it not only improved exam scores, but also reflective practice and empathy, both of which are essential skills for doctors. They also noted that these platforms improved learner engagement, feedback and personal development, thus reinforcing the positive effects described in the article by Guraya et al.1
 
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response to the letter to the editor has been published 

Dear editor

We read the article by Guraya et al1 with great interest. We were fascinated by the idea that social media could be integrated into medical curricula and be used as an educational platform in the future. As medical students who use various social networking sites (SNS) for both educational and recreational use, we wish to offer our opinion on this topic.

Guraya et al1 suggest that social media’s role in higher education is currently under-utilised and has greater potential in the future. Cheston et al2 explored the effects of integrating social media tools into medical curricula. Their work found that it not only improved exam scores, but also reflective practice and empathy, both of which are essential skills for doctors. They also noted that these platforms improved learner engagement, feedback and personal development, thus reinforcing the positive effects described in the article by Guraya et al.1

Although social media has shown a number of educational advantages, it can, arguably, be perceived to be a double-edged sword. In 2018, there were 2.32 billion monthly Facebook users,1 with this number on course to continue to rise. A study by Andreassen3 warns us of the potential addictive aspect of social media that we must be wary of. Andreassen3 reports prevalence of SNS addiction to range from 1.6% up to 34%. Long-term excessive use of SNSs is also reported to have negative effects on health, relationships and real life social interactions, even leading to symptoms consistent with addiction, as seen in substances of abuse. As medical students we have experienced the emergence of E-learning platforms in the UK, which are designed specifically for educational purposes. Thus, it may be wise to continue using these specialised platforms, rather than advocate more extensive use of social media in these students.

Integrating a novel teaching approach into medical educational curricula would not come without its challenges, as with any new approach. Raupach et al4 found web-based problem-based learning (PBL) sessions to be more time consuming and have no significant difference on examination results in comparison to face-to-face PBL sessions. In addition to the time-consuming administrative process of implementing education onto platforms not specialised for this purpose. Furthermore, there are issues regarding privacy and security, as described by Smith,5 where students reported concerns over mixing social and professional life. In some cases, students felt the need to create separate social media accounts in order to overcome this problem.

With the ever rising popularity of social media in the 21st century, integration of social media platforms in higher education curricula could prove to be a powerful tool. However, further evidence based research is needed before this can be implemented across the board.

Disclosure

The authors report no conflicts of interest in this communication

References

1. Guraya SY, Al-Qahtani MF, Bilal B, Guraya SS, Almaramhy H. Comparing the extent and pattern of use of social networking sites by medical and non medical university students: a multi-center study. Psychol Res Behav Manag. 2019;12:575–584. doi:10.2147/PRBM.S204389

2. Cheston CC, Flickinger TE, Chisolm MS. Social media use in medical education: a systematic review. Acad Med. 2013;88(6):893–901. doi:10.1097/ACM.0b013e31828ffc23

3. Andreassen CS. Online social network site addiction: a comprehensive review. Curr Addict Rep. 2015;2(2):175–184. doi:10.1007/s40429-015-0056-9

4. Raupach T, Muenscher C, Anders S, et al. Web-based collaborative training of clinical reasoning: a randomized trial. Med Teach. 2009;31(9):e431–e437. doi:10.1080/01421590903095502

5. Smith EE. “A real double-edged sword:” undergraduate perceptions of social media in their learning. Comput Educ. 2016;103:44–58. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2016.09.009

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