Author(s): Wang T, Wang F, Shi L
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Microblog is a Web 2.0 technology that provides an online social networking platform for communicating and sharing information among web users. Pharmacy educators have previously used microblog to promote active engagement of students. However, there is very little research to demonstrate how to use microblogging effectively to enhance pedagogy in a blended or face-to-face classroom environment. We used the most popular microblog website in China to create a "space" within the classroom to evaluate an interactive microblogging forum for the integration of pharmacotherapy case studies. This study is aimed to determine students' attitudes toward microblog-based case studies (MBC) in a pharmacotherapy class. METHODS: We created a group on Sina Weibo, the most popular microblog website in China, to explore the possibilities of using microblog-based case discussions in pharmacy education to promote and motivate student learning. The class teaching activities began in November 2011; individual group assignments to a single case study were administered to 21 groups with a total of 126 participating pharmacy students. Each group was required to share a discussion care plan on the microblogging platform. Individual students were expected to participate in an online discussion related to at least two other group cases by posting their comments on the microblog platform. All postings were tracked and analyzed, and then a post MBC survey was administered anonymously to determine students' opinions towards MBC. RESULTS: A total of 126 students posted 592 messages and 112 students (89\%) completed the survey. More than 80\% of students agreed that MBC improved communication; nearly 70\% agreed that MBC increased the amount of interaction, and over 50\% found value in reading other students' messages. However, 25\% students believed the collaborative learning was not effective and 22\% indicated the quality of interaction was low. CONCLUSIONS: MBC appears to be well-accepted learning method to students in this study. Educators who wish to use MBC for pharmacy courses should balance the potential advantages, such as improving communication and the amount of interaction, with potential disadvantages, such as inefficient collaborative learning and the low quality of interaction.
This article was published in BMC Med Educ
and referenced in International Journal of School and Cognitive Psychology