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Learning theory and its application to the use of social media in medical education
  1. Leslie Flynn1,
  2. Alireza Jalali2,
  3. Katherine A Moreau3
  1. 1Faculty of Health Sciences, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  3. 3Department of Pediatrics, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Leslie V Flynn, Faculty of Health Sciences, Queen's University, 18 Barrie St, Kingston, Ontario, Canada K7L 3N6; flynnl{at}


Background There is rapidly increasing pressure to employ social media in medical education, but a review of the literature demonstrates that its value and role are uncertain.

Objective To determine if medical educators have a conceptual framework that informs their use of social media and whether this framework can be mapped to learning theory.

Methods Thirty-six participants engaged in an iterative, consensus building process that identified their conceptual framework and determined if it aligned with one or more learning theories.

Results The results show that the use of social media by the participants could be traced to two dominant theories—Connectivism and Constructivism. They also suggest that many medical educators may not be fully informed of these theories.

Conclusions Medical educators’ use of social media can be traced to learning theories, but these theories may not be explicitly utilised in instructional design. It is recommended that formal education (faculty development) around learning theory would further enhance the use of social media in medical education.

  • Learning theory
  • Social media
  • Medical education

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