Internet skills of medical faculty and students: is there a difference?

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O'Doherty, Diane
Lougheed, Justan
Hannigan, Ailish
Last, Jason
Dromey, Marie
O'Tuathaigh, Colm
McGrath, Deirdre
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Springer Nature
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Background: The shift from a more didactic to student-centred pedagogical approach has led to the implementation of new information communication technology (ICT) innovations and curricula. Consequently, analysis of the digital competency of both faculty and students is of increasing importance. The aim of this research is to measure and compare the internet skills of medical school faculty and students and to investigate any potential skills gap between the two groups. Methods: A survey of medical school faculty and students across three universities in Ireland was carried out using a validated instrument (Internet Skills Scale) measuring five internet skills (Operational, Information Navigation, Social, Creative and Mobile). Three focus groups comprising a total of fifteen students and four semi-structured interviews with faculty across three institutions were carried out to explore further findings and perceptions towards digital literacy, give further insight and add context to the findings. Results: Seventy-eight medical faculty (response rate 45%) and 401 students (response rate 15%) responded to the survey. Mean scores for each internet skill were high (above 4 out of 5) for all skills apart from Creative (mean of 3.08 for students and 3.10 for faculty). There were no large differences between student and faculty scores across the five skills. Qualitative results supported survey findings with a deeper investigation into topics such as online professionalism, use of licencing and mobile application development. Needs based skills training and support were highlighted as areas for faculty development. Conclusion: Both medical educators and students tend to have similar competencies with respect to internet skills. When implementing online and distance learning methodologies however, medical schools need to ensure appropriate skills training and support for faculty as well as providing targeted training to improve the creative skills of both their educators and students.
Digital , Internet skills , Medical faculty , Medical students , Medical school
O’Doherty, D., Lougheed, J., Hannigan, A., Last, J., Dromey, M., O’Tuathaigh, C. and McGrath, D. (2019) 'Internet skills of medical faculty and students: is there a difference?', BMC Medical Education, 19(1), 9 pp. doi:10.1186/s12909-019-1475-4