Proceedings of The Physiological Society

Europhysiology 2018 (London, UK) (2018) Proc Physiol Soc 41, C109

Oral Communications

Patterns of medical school e-learning: Effects of social media and introduction of a Smartphone mobile platform on learning

A. Datta1

1. Medicine, York Teaching Hospital, York, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom.


  • Fig.1 Log-ins by day of week and by time of day (398 unique visitors per half year) post introduction of Blackboard mobile app.

  • Fig.2 Box and whisker plots for time spent per day on Blackboard (upper panel, BB) and Facebook (lower panel, FB) by Phase of study (abscissa). Horizontal line represents median, box shows first - third interquartile range (IQR), whisker shows range ie bottom value (1st quartile -1.5 IQR) to highest value (3rd quartile +1.5 IQR). Outliers shown by open circles

Introduction Hull York Medical School (HYMS) teaches 700 students. Year 1 & 2 (Phase I ), students are campus-based - at Hull & York Univ. Years 3-4 (Phase II ) & 5 (Phase III ), students are taught at sites spread over 8600 sq Km of N.Yorkshire by 1000 staff. A smartphone e-learning app, Blackboard mobile (BB) was introduced in July 2011 to aid learning and communication between widely dispersed staff & students. Aims To determine extent of: Students accessing mobile e-learning and to variation by year of study and mobile platform. Use of e-learning by year of study Use of social media as an adjunct to BB Methods Questionnaires were administered to 65, 55 & 50 students respectively in Phase I, II and III respectively in 2012. Responses were analysed with multivariate analysis (SPSS v.20). Log in data from York Univ was analysed according to Smartphone platform (Apple, Android, Blackberry), time of day & day of week. Results 86% Phase I students reported owning a Smartphone, with 79 % overall HYMS student & 78% staff ownership, compared with 50% general UK population. 50% students had unlimited data usage contracts. 55% of BB users used Apple iOS & 39% Android; 90% logins were via Apple iOS & 9% via android . 44% students and 10 % staff downloaded BB in the first 9 months available. 398 unique visitors went to Blackboard between Oct 2011 - March 2012, with 179 unique visitors in March 2012. Peak usage was on Tuesday & Friday with nadir on Wednesday, Thursday,& weekend. Peak usage by hour of day was at 9am & 1pm (Fig. 1). Mean + SD (range) time spent on Blackboard (BB) and Facebook (FB) respectively were 20.8 + 25.8 (0-180) & 60.3 + 78.2 (0-480) min/ day respectively (p = 0.001, ANOVA). Time spent on both BB and FB were lower in Phase III than Phase I ( p = 0.001, 0.006, Fig. 2 ) Only 30% students used the electronic forum on BB to interact, students preferred talking face to face, by telephone, email or FB. 35% students admitted skipping lectures because of content available on BB. Students skipped a median + SD (range) of 3 + 11.6 (0-50) lectures/ year. BB problems cited by students were poor or absent search facilities, the disorganized filing of resources, "clunkiness" and availability of resources elsewhere e.g. books. 43%, 27% & 14 % respectively of Phase 1,2 & 3 students respectively admitted to using FB to aid learning, particularly Phase I students, to aid problem-based learning (PBL). Methods included direct messaging, posting articles to groups/ individuals, asking where information was located, arranging meetings to prepare presentations, asking questions, checking deadlines. Conclusions 1. FB usage was higher than BB usage 2. Both BB and FB usage declined as students progressed through the medical school, despite them being more widely dispersed; 3. FB usage in early years engendered a learning community enhancing PBL

Where applicable, experiments conform with Society ethical requirements