Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Assessing the Value of Online Learning and Social Media in Pharmacy Education

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Assessing the Value of Online Learning and Social Media in Pharmacy Education

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Today's student pharmacists have significant exposure to online methods of learning and social media in their pre-pharmacy educational experiences, such as online platforms and social media sites like Facebook. (1) With the advent of online learning methods and integration of technology into pharmacy education, online learning and social media may be novel methods for administering pharmacy curricula to students. In addition, as learners' preferences in pharmacy education change, faculty members and colleges and schools of pharmacy must adjust and respond accordingly. (2-6)

While social media is commonly used in social settings, there are few reports of its use in a professional educational setting. Cain et al studied the use of Facebook in a pharmacy management and leadership course for third-year pharmacy students. (7) The course included an optional activity on Facebook via a closed group to provide students with a greater exposure to current topics in pharmacy management. Students reported joining the Facebook group for this class based on potential for extra credit and opportunities to work with external experts and learn more about management and leadership. (7) Another institution used Twitter in a pharmacy practice development, management, and evaluation course for second-year students. (8) Students were assigned a Twitter account and were required to post a minimum of 10 tweets, which accounted for 2% of the students' total grade. Some students reported the use of Twitter during class distracted them from course discussions, while others felt that the use of tweets helped to increase the sharing of ideas among the class. (8)

Salter and colleagues' systematic review on e-learning in pharmacy education evaluated the quality of pharmacy-related e-learning effectiveness studies. (9) E-learning was defined as learning directed through an Internet process. (10) Overall, they identified 459 records through literature and database searches and found 17 articles that met criteria for inclusion in their review. (9) The authors included studies that evaluated e-learning programs used in pharmacy education and included trials where learning, behavior, results, and participants' reactions served as the primary and secondary outcomes. Many studies that assessed changes in knowledge found significant improvements after e-learning, ranging from 7%-46%, determined by skills assessments, posttests, and Likert scales rating confidence or knowledge. (9) Monaghan et al used a survey tool to create a searchable database of technology used by students and faculty members at colleges and schools of pharmacy nationwide. (11) All surveyed institutions reported using a course management system software, with the most common system being Blackboard (Blackboard, Washington, DC). Classroom and lecture capture, web conferencing, and interactive video conferencing were also widely used by institutions. (11) The social media applications Facebook and YouTube were the most commonly used by faculty members to communicate with students. By summarizing the educational technology used by numerous schools of pharmacy, the authors developed a searchable database that would allow faculty members to collaborate on the best technology available for their students. (11)

In other professional schools, including dentistry and medicine, students reported preference and appreciation for online learning and blended approaches to instruction. (10,12,13) Ruiz and colleagues discussed the potential uses of e-learning in medical education, including continuing education and asynchronous e-learning during practice expereinces. (10) In dental education, Reynolds et al performed a retrospective analysis of online survey data from 2001-2004. Dental students reported increased ease of access, time savings, and positive experiences with e-learning. (12) Schimming conducted a retrospective study of skills assessment scores and feedback of a PubMed training session for first-year medical students. …

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