ABSTRACT: Social media for lifelong learning
Learning is ongoing, and can be considered a social activity. In this paper we aim to provide a review of the use of social media for lifelong learning. We start by defining lifelong learning, drawing upon principles of continuous professional development and adult learning theory. We searched Embase and MEDLINE from 2004-2014 for search terms relevant to social media and learning. We describe examples of lifelong learners using social media in medical education and healthcare that have been reported in the peer-reviewed literature. Medical or other health professions students may have qualities consistent with being a lifelong learner, yet once individuals move beyond structured learning environments they will need to recognize their own gaps in knowledge and skills over time and be motivated to fill them, thereby incorporating lifelong learning principles into their day-to-day practice. Engagement with social media can parallel engagement in the learning process over time, to the extent that online social networking fosters feedback and collaboration. The use of social media and online networking platforms are a key way to continuously learn in today’s information sharing society. Additional research is needed, particularly rigorous studies that extend beyond learner satisfaction to knowledge, behaviour change, and outcomes.