Roger Watson, Editor-in-Chief
Nursing and education have long harboured suspicion about social media and their concerns mimic those of society at large. Despite the widespread use of social media, it rarely gets a good press. Criticism ranges from it being a waste to time, through its use being anti-educational and unprofessional to it being downright harmful, especially to the very young. However, people continue to use it, it is rare to find students who don't and some enlightened educationalists are accepting that students use social media and are integrating it into their learning experience. But the question remains, in nursing education: does it have any benefits?
A study from the UK buy O'Connor et al. (2018) and published in JAN is claimed to be the first rigorous assessment of the issue using the method of systematic review. Specifically, the study aimed to: 'synthesize evidence on the effectiveness of social media in nursing and midwifery education.' A wide search of relevant databases found over 2000 articles of which 12 were considered suitable for detailed analysis. The results were positively in favour of the impact of social media. Studies had been conducted in the UK, USA, Canada, Australia and Taiwan.
The positive effects of social media included effects on: learning outcomes; knowledge; networking and skills. With specific reference to skills, according to the authors: 'Some nursing and midwifery students stated they acquired new abilities such as research, communication, digital literacy, stress management, and study skills from taking part in a social media intervention.'
The authors concluded: 'Social media has the potential to give students a more interactive experience as it promotes the creation, sharing, and consumption of educational content and resources that could improve learning. The findings and recommendations of this review can help inform a future agenda for nursing and midwifery research, practice, and policy that could help transform learning in higher and continuing education.'
You can listen to this as a podcast
O'Connor, S. , Jolliffe, S. , Stanmore, E. , Renwick, L. and Booth, R. (2018), Social media in nursing and midwifery education: a mixed study systematic review. J Adv Nurs. doi:10.1111/jan.13799