Medical students' use of Facebook to support learning: insights from four case studies

Med Teach. 2010;32(12):971-6. doi: 10.3109/0142159X.2010.497826.


Background: Recent research indicates that university students are interested and active in supporting their learning by using Facebook, a popular social networking website.

Aim: This study aimed to add to our understanding of how or how effectively students may be using Facebook for this purpose.

Method: Researchers surveyed the extent and key features of Facebook use among 759 medical students at one university, and explored in depth the design and conduct of four Facebook study groups.

Results: 25.5% of students reported using Facebook for education related reasons and another 50.0% said they were open to doing so. The case studies showed conservative approaches in students' efforts to support their development of medical knowledge, skills and attributes in this way. Both technological affordances and group dynamics were factors contributing to groups' mixed successes.

Conclusion: These cases indicate that using Facebook as part of learning and teaching is as much of a challenge for many students as it may be for most educators.

MeSH terms

  • Blogging*
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate
  • Female
  • Group Processes*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Students, Medical*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires