Social media and medical education: Exploring the potential of Twitter as a learning tool

Int Rev Psychiatry. 2015 Apr;27(2):140-6. doi: 10.3109/09540261.2015.1015502. Epub 2015 Mar 13.


This study set out to explore the ways in which social media can facilitate learning in medical education. In particular we were interested in determining whether the use of Twitter during an academic conference can promote learning for participants. The Twitter transcript from the annual International Conference on Residency Education (ICRE) 2013 was qualitatively analysed for evidence of the three overarching cognitive themes: (1) preconceptions, (2) frameworks, and (3) metacognition/refl ection in regard to the National Research Council ’ s (NRC) How People Learn framework . Content analysis of the Twitter transcript revealed evidence of the three cognitive themes as related to how people learn. Twitter appears to be most effective at stimulating individuals ’ preconceptions, thereby engaging them with the new material acquired during a medical education conference. The study of social media data, such as the Twitter data used in this study, is in its infancy. Having established that Twitter does hold signifi cant potential as a learning tool during an academic conference, we are now in a better position to more closely examine the spread, depth, and sustainability of such learning during medical education meetings.

MeSH terms

  • Cognition
  • Congresses as Topic
  • Education, Medical / methods*
  • Humans
  • Information Dissemination / methods
  • Learning
  • Social Media* / statistics & numerical data