Online medical education using a Facebook peer-to-peer learning platform during the COVID-19 pandemic: a qualitative study exploring learner and tutor acceptability of Facebook as a learning platform

Joshua Chambers, Khaylen Mistry, Joel Spink, Jordan Tsigarides, Pauline Bryant

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In recent years, higher education institutions have been moving teaching online, accelerated by the pandemic. The Remote Learning Project (RLP), based at the Norwich Medical School (NMS) in the United Kingdom (U.K.), was a peer-to-peer teaching program developed to supplement medical school teaching during the pandemic. The teaching was delivered through Facebook using peer-to-peer teaching. Tutors were final year medical students, teaching medical student learners in lower years. Tutors and learners perception of peer-to-peer online learning delivered through the Facebook Social Media (SoMe) platform was investigated.

This qualitative study recruited tutor and learner participants from NMS by email, participation in the study was voluntary. Online semi-structured interviews of both tutors and learners in the remote learning project were conducted. The data was analysed using thematic analysis.

Seven participants were interviewed. Five themes were identified; education (learning/teaching), productivity, data security, professionalism, and usability of the platform. Learners enjoyed the asynchronous nature of the platform and both learners and tutors enjoyed the peer-to-peer nature of the RLP, including the ability to immediately and easily answer on Facebook comments. Some learners felt distracted on Facebook, whilst others enjoyed the reminders. The mix of social and professional on the platform was met with caution from tutors. Both learners and tutors enjoyed the familiarity of the platform.

The study found that SoMe may be a credible platform to deliver online peer-to-peer teaching. Educators should consider the ergonomics of SoMe platforms when designing online curriculums. Guidelines for educators should be developed to better guide educators on the effective and safe use of SoMe as a learning tool.
Original languageEnglish
Article number293
JournalBMC Medical Education
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2023


  • Online education
  • Facebook
  • Peer Learning
  • e-learning
  • Collaborative/peer-to-peer
  • Education environment
  • Professionalism
  • Medical education research

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