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Using social media to support small group learning: Medical curricula are increasingly using small group learning and less

Using social media to support small group learning: Medical curricula are increasingly using small group learning and less didactic lecture-based teaching. This creates new challenges and opportunities in how students are best supported with information technology. We explored how university-supported and external social media could support collaborative small group working on our new undergraduate medical curriculum. We made available a curation platform (Scoop.it) and a wiki within our virtual learning environment as part of year 1 Case-Based Learning, and did not discourage the use of other tools such as Facebook. We undertook student surveys to capture perceptions of the tools and information on how they were used, and employed software user metrics to explore the extent to which they were used during the year. Student groups developed a preferred way of working early in the course. Most groups used Facebook to facilitate communication within the group, and to host documents and notes. There were more barriers to using the wiki and curation platform, although some groups did make extensive use of them. Staff engagement was variable, with some tutors reviewing the content posted on the wiki and curation platform in face-to-face sessions, but not outside these times. A small number of staff posted resources and reviewed student posts on the curation platform. Optimum use of these tools depends on sufficient training of both staff and students, and an opportunity to practice using them, with ongoing support. The platforms can all support collaborative learning, and may help develop digital literacy, critical appraisal skills, and awareness of wider health issues in society. Duncan Cole. Emma Rengasamy. Shafqat Batchelor. Charles Pope. Stephen Riley. Anne Marie Cunningham. BMC Medical Education.

Source: bmcmededuc.biomedcentral.com

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