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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2018  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 1-5

The new face of learning: Social media innovating medical education

Surgical Unit 1, Civil Hospital and Dow University of Health Sciences, Karachi, Pakistan

Date of Web Publication3-Apr-2018

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Farah Ahmed
(Dow University of Health Sciences), House Officer At Civil Hospital Karachi At Surgical Unit 1, Postal Code 75850 Karachi
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jepr.jepr_73_16

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BACKGROUND: The evolution of social media has not only altered the interaction mode but also affected the learning and teaching opportunities. Medical students worldwide are connected and oriented in social networking. Social media has also emerged as a new developing tool in medical education. The use of Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp has provided students a platform for interactive education, collaboration communication, and socializing.
OBJECTIVE: This study was conducted to evaluate student's satisfaction on the use of social media WhatsApp for learning as part of clinical rotation and teaching.
Methods: This cross-sectional study was performed in the Surgical Unit 1 Civil Hospital Karachi, Dow University of Health Sciences, from January 2015 till December 2015. The participants included were final-year MBBS students attending ward rotation. This was questionnaire-based study; students were given formed questionnaire to evaluate their responses in terms of level of satisfaction, improvement in learning, level of comfort, self-assessment, on Likert scale of 1–5, 1 being not helpful and 5 being highly informative. The results were analyzed with SPSS version 17.
RESULTS: Most of the students participated at least twice weekly in a 3-month session of online discussion session on WhatsApp. Majority had satisfying experience with only 2% being not satisfied. Of all, 59.6% felt an improvement in their knowledge after sessions while 80% agreed with curriculum relevance. Majority (88%) said that they were motivated for more learning and helped in education. Self-assessments were also done with social media according to 76% of participants. Sixty percent showed great level of comfort with facilitator.
CONCLUSION: The results of this study highlights that the usage of social media in education and learning is helpful for the purpose of enhancing the interactive learning.

Keywords: Medical education, social media, WhatsApp

How to cite this article:
Zulfikar I, Zaheer F, Baloch Q, Ahmed F. The new face of learning: Social media innovating medical education. Int J Educ Psychol Res 2018;4:1-5

How to cite this URL:
Zulfikar I, Zaheer F, Baloch Q, Ahmed F. The new face of learning: Social media innovating medical education. Int J Educ Psychol Res [serial online] 2018 [cited 2023 Dec 10];4:1-5. Available from: https://www.ijeprjournal.org/text.asp?2018/4/1/1/229137

  Introduction Top

At present, medical students are a group of net generation.[1] They are digital natives using social media. They use social media (Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp) as tool to communicate, participate, share, create, and modify information.[2] This interaction changed the ways of learning. Most students prefer to use social media and the internet, instead of book as their primary information source.[3] Many institutions have integrated this information into medical education and teaching experience.[4] Internationally, higher education has started using social media technology and medical sciences is no exception. Continuing medical education can be enhanced with the usage of social media.[5],[6],[7] Web-based learning is already validated in medical education although its advantages are unclear and needed to be explored.[8]

Social media may be particularly effective for advancing medical teaching. Precincts in students work hours may constrain their ability to participate in discussions and educational conferences. This hinders students to utilize their study time effectively. Social media is simple to access with ease of time and place. This encourages interaction offering certain advantages over more conventional didactic designs. Moreover, the majority of medical students prefer online media as their principal reserve for information. This has proven to be cost-effective too.[9]

Social media tools have so far not being used in our health education system officially.

We interacted with students to look into the effectiveness of social media in health education. These discussions also helped in learning and resolved queries regarding the surgery-related topics. They appreciated the effort and time given by the facilitators in evening hours. Students agreed on the effectiveness of social media tool as a learning enhancement.[10] The purpose of our study was to see the influence of social media as an educational adjunct and to appraise students' attitudes and their behavior regarding the use of WhatsApp for medical teaching.[11]

  Methods Top

A qualitative cross-sectional study design was applied for final-year students attending surgical rotation in Unit 1 Civil Hospital, Dow University of Health Sciences, from January 2015 to December 2015 using a social media tool WhatsApp on students' personal cellular devices.

We calculated a sample size of 86 from a recent study done in neighboring country taking the figure of 147 as the population size at confidence interval (alpha) of 95% at 3% margin of error.[12]

Students were informed before written consents were obtained for voluntary participation. Participants consented to have their mobile phone numbers made accessible to the facilitator. Students who agreed to participate were inducted in the WhatsApp group. They took part in the discussions for the rotation of 4 weeks in our ward. The session was supervised by ward faculty with adjustments in available time. The topics were chosen from the surgery curriculum of MBBS final year. Suggestions and queries of students were also included in discussions. At the end of 4 weeks, students were requested to share their experience. Ninety students participated and filled the formed questionnaire with response from Likert scale of 1–5. Our study aimed at evaluating student interaction with the facilitator, impact of learning with WhatsApp discussion as part of clinical rotation in the wards. Students' responses were analyzed with SPSS version 17 (IBM).

  Results Top


Most of the students (43.7%) had participated twice weekly in WhatsApp sessions while 36% thrice weekly [Figure 1].
Figure 1: No of times participated

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Positive experiences using the WhatsApp group

Most of the students (53.3%) graded the experience above average regarding effective way of learning [Table 1].
Table 1: Experience of sessions

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Students shared that discussion groups were positive learning experience. There was easy access to their educators and peers when they needed supervision. Interactive clinical discussions were positive learning experience.

Motivation for learning

Students agreed that the discussion sessions were a motivation for learning [Figure 2].
Figure 2: Motivation of learning

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Level of comfort

Interaction with facilitator was a comfortable experience. Participants posted their queries and comment without feeling intimidated [Table 2].
Table 2: Level of comfort

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Usefulness of WhatsApp to upgrade knowledge

Students also approved that their level of knowledge upgraded from average to above-average and helped adding on their existing knowledge. Students shared that their WhatsApp interaction helped them in the application of knowledge during clinical practice [Figure 3].
Figure 3: knowledge after sessions

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Regular part of ward rotation

They agreed that it should be a regular part of ward rotation [Table 3].
Table 3: Regular part of ward rotation

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This is describing the views of students that whether online education discussion should be a part of ward rotation or not.


Participants agreed that the WhatsApp discussions helped them update information and use it in the examination preparation. The session also helped the students assess their selves about their knowledge [Table 4].
Table 4: Self-assessment

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Curriculum relevance

Most of the students agreed that discussions covered the curriculum.

  Discussion Top

Many students now use social media for their interaction and communication. Students' views toward social media and medical education have changed, sharing a stronger desire for using social media to augment their learning. As in our study, other studies also agree that use of smartphones and emerging technologies help students improve learning and are resourceful in higher education.[13] Educators and students use cellular technology in varied perspectives for extensive range in educating and learning purposes, which helps them in discussion forums.[14]

Although many students thought that online forums should be beneficial for medical education, more students began to regularly use WhatsApp and other smartphone applications after induction in our group. The global possession and connectivity of social media provide a resource-rich medium for ingenious, student-oriented learning experiences.[15] The frequent participation of students in our group discussions emphasized the effectiveness of social media. Most of the students participated twice weekly and thrice weekly, indicating their frequent use of social media.

Most of the students in our study consented that these discussions were source of motivation. The group discussions not only encouraged them for learning, but many agreed that it improved their knowledge from before to after discussion. One of the studied reported that use of social media apps on mobile phones is becoming popular among educators to share academic information.[16] Students also agreed that the relevant curriculum was covered in discussions which helped them prepare for their examinations.

In our study, most of them agreed that social media can be used as tool of self-assessment. In consistent with other international studies, our discussions on WhatsApp created learning prospects for students. This permitted them to augment their knowledge in encouraging learning surroundings.[17]

This social media application allows the exchange of information in the form of texts, videos, and images in prompt time. The global accessibility incorporated with the cost-effectiveness of social networks provides a resourceful medium. This adds to revolutionary learning practices.

Our study highlights that social media can be used as important tool in health education. The use of WhatsApp provides students with a medium to enhance learning in medical education. The students' response emphasizes their positive experiences of their learning as a result of the intercession. These discussions provided an effective space for integrated learning, sharing of curriculum-related knowledge with maintenance of academic teamwork to boost the teaching and learning process.

  Conclusion Top

The study helps us conclude that social media tools help in health education. It has a beneficial influence on undergraduate medical students. Social media tools can be integrated into education as important learning tool. Further studies are required to develop an effective learning social media module.

Study limitations

As this study was single institution based, its findings cannot be generalized. This entails that further studies are required to be conducted in a number of institutions to minimize the selection bias and for better generalization.

Suggestions results

Social media use in health education is a potential ground of learning that qualifies further exploration. Innovative technologies have made knowledge accessible and cost-effective. This can be used in improvising health education.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Cheston CC, Flickinger TE, Chisolm MS. Social media use in medical education: A systematic review. Acad Med 2013;88:893-901.  Back to cited text no. 1
Giordano C, Giordano C. Health professions students' use of social media. J Allied Health 2011;40:78-81.  Back to cited text no. 2
Hollinderbäumer A, Hartz T, Uckert F. Education 2.0 – How has social media and Web 2.0 been integrated into medical education? A systematical literature review. GMS Z Med Ausbild 2013;30:Doc14.  Back to cited text no. 3
Gray K, Annabell L, Kennedy G. Medical students' use of Facebook to support learning: Insights from four case studies. Med Teach 2010;32:971-6.  Back to cited text no. 4
Wang AT, Sandhu NP, Wittich CM, Mandrekar JN, Beckman TJ. Using social media to improve continuing medical education: A survey of course participants. Berlin: Elsevier; 2012.  Back to cited text no. 5
Kennedy G, Gray K, Tse J. 'Net Generation' medical students: Technological experiences of pre-clinical and clinical students. Med Teach 2008;30:10-6.  Back to cited text no. 6
Pempek TA, Yermolayeva YA, Calvert SL. College students social networking experience on Facebook. J Appl Dev Psychol 2009;30:227-38.  Back to cited text no. 7
Black EW, Thompson LA, Duff WP, Dawson K, Saliba H, Black NM. Revisiting Social Network Utilization by Physicians-in-Training. J Grad Med Educ 2010;2:289-93.  Back to cited text no. 8
Chretien KC, Azar J, Kind T. Physicians on Twitter. JAMA 2011;305:566-8.  Back to cited text no. 9
Childers RE, Dattalo M, Christmas C. Podcast pearls in residency training. Ann Intern Med 2014;160:70.  Back to cited text no. 10
Galiatsatos P, Porto-Carreiro F, Hayashi J, Zakaria S, Christmas C. The use of social media to supplement resident medical education – The SMART-ME initiative. Med Educ Online 2016;21:29332.  Back to cited text no. 11
Igor Pantic. Online Social Networking and Mental Health. Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw. 2014;17:652-7.  Back to cited text no. 12
Bozalek V, Ng'ambi D, Wood D, Herrington J, Hardman J, Amory A, editors. Activity Theory, Authentic Learning and Emerging Technologies: Towards a Transformative Higher Education Pedagogy. London, New York: Routledge; 2015.  Back to cited text no. 13
Conejar RJ, Kim HK. The effect of the future mobile learning: Current state and future opportunities. Int J Softw Eng Appl 2014;8:193-200.  Back to cited text no. 14
Cochrane T, Antonczak L, Keegan H, Narayan V. Riding the wave of BYOD: Developing a framework for creative pedagogies. Res Learn Technol 2014;22:1-14.  Back to cited text no. 15
Dewah P, Mutula S. Mobile phone access and use among students at the National University of Technology (NUST) Bulawayo, Zimbabwe: Implications for academic integrity. Innovation : journal of appropriate librarianship and information work in Southern Africa 2013;46:150-65.  Back to cited text no. 16
Herrington J, Reeves TC, Oliver R. A Guide to Authentic E-Learning. New York: Routledge Taylor and Francis Group; 2010. Available from: https://www.routledge.com/A-Guide-to-Authentic-e-Learning/Herrington-Reeves-Oliver/p/book/9780415998000 [Last viewed on 2015 Mar 08].  Back to cited text no. 17


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3]

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4]

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