Facebook as a learning environment for teaching medical emergencies in dental practice

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Date: September-December 2015
From: Education for Health(Vol. 28, Issue 3)
Publisher: Medknow Publications and Media Pvt. Ltd.
Document Type: Article
Length: 3,146 words
Lexile Measure: 1440L

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Byline: Ulla. Alshiekhly, Rebal. Arrar, Imad. Barngkgei, Mayssoon. Dashash

Background: Social media can be part of the formal education of health professsionals and in their lifelong learning activities. The effectiveness of Facebook, an online social medium, application for educational purposes was evaluated in this study. It was used to serve as a teaching medium of a course in medical emergencies in dental practice (MEDP). Methods: Syrian dental students were invited to join a Facebook group &#8220;Medical emergencies in dental practice&#8221; during the second semester of the academic year 2013&#8211;2014. The group privacy settings were changed from an open group to a closed group after the registration period. Administrators of the group published 61 posts during the course period, which extended for one month. Students' progress in learning was evaluated using self-assessment questionnaires administered to the students before and after the course. These questionnaires also queried their opinions regarding the use of Facebook as an educational modality. Qualitative statistics, Wilcoxon signed ranks and Mann-Whitney U-tests were used to analyze the data. Results: Out of 388 students registered in this course, 184 completed it. Two-third of students agreed that Facebook was useful in education. Their impressions of this course were 17.4% as excellent, 52.2% as very good. P values of the self-assessment questions of Wilcoxon signed ranks test were <0.001, indicating self-assessed improvement in MEDP skills. Discussion: Facebook as a social medium provides a unique learning environment. It allows students to discuss topics more openly in a flexible setting with less rigid time and place constraints. In the light of this study it was found that Facebook may be useful in teaching medical emergencies in dental practice in its theoretical aspect.


The World Wide Web 2.0 depends on the collaborative work of many content creators, which has enabled social media such as Facebook and Twitter, video sharing sites like YouTube and interactive websites, including blogs and wikis.[sup][1] With its rapid growth and accessibility, the social media today has created a wide spectrum of new uses and has fundamentally changed the way people manage information.[sup][2] Social media initially provided a mean for socialization, but are increasingly harnessed for educational purposes. Recent studies have found that incorporating social media tools into traditional educational environments increases student learning and collaboration.[sup][3] Moreover, it gives educators the possibility to reach their students in new and innovative ways unrestrained by time and space. It also holds the promise in adding value to teaching and learning in higher education, while still enjoying the excitement generated by the invention of the World Wide Web.[sup][4]

Facebook can be seen as an instant virtual communication world through which one maintains contact with family and friends. It is commonly used among health science students, residents and dentists in western countries.[sup][2],[5],[6],[7],[8] Furthermore, many students have turned to Facebook instead of university online learning sites in order to organize and participate in study groups.[sup][9] An earlier study found that the use of social media can be implemented among dental students to include topics sometimes...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A447022410