Blogs read by 20% of UK medical students, but only 8% write their own

A wide range of social media tools has become readily available in recent years, to the extent that the use of Facebook in particular is perceived as "second nature" by many students. There is increasing interest in the possibilities of using this social media services for medical education - blogs, wikis, Twitter and Facebook.

This UK study included a self-administered questionnaire survey of 212 first year medical students.

Over 90% used instant messaging. Social networking sites were also highly used - by 70%. There was no significant difference between males and females.

Blogs were read by 20% of students and a small number (8%) wrote their own blogs.

20% of males were users of media sharing and contributed to wikis.

Social bookmarking was rarely used by either gender.

Medical educators need to recognise the potential of social software in medical education but it is essential that students maintain the informality and privacy of these sites. The challenge is how to integrate social software into current curricula and institutional Virtual Learning Environments.

Web 2.0 and social software: the medical student way of e-learning. Sandars J, Homer M, Pell G, Crocker T. Med Teach. 2010 Jun 18.

Comments from Twitter:

@DrVes I didn't expect that 8% of med students in the study wrote blogs - this is not my experience from teaching students and residents at Cleveland Clinic, Case Western and Creighton University.

@sandnsurf Medical education blog vs tumblr/posterous blog possibly. My students are at 10% for blog writing but 1% are actually medical.

@DrVes This is way higher than the stats here in the U.S. "Everybody's on Facebook, nobody has a blog"... :)

@doctorwhitecoat Not to jump mid convo, but at my school, I can say that most don't have blogs... at most maybe 3-5% and those that do... don't update.

@DrVes 2-5% is high. There was only one blogging student at Cleveland Clinic medical school who stopped after 1-2 years.

Related reading:
Assistant professor uses Twitter to teach students dental anatomy at Ohio State University - 113 of 200 students signed up, 56%
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  1. Yes, creating a blog is easy for medical students. but, to update your posts is really hard. I have a friend who started her 4th medical blog. but after a few posts she would stop posting. That's why I really admire doctors keep their blogs updated. It's so good to read about what's in their minds.

  2. Yes, the doctors who keep posting are some kind of heroes. Medical blogs are the most difficult to maintain.