1 1Department of Nursing, Jahrom University of Medical Sciences, Jahrom, Iran; 2Department of Medical Education, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran;

2 Clinical education research center, Education Development Center, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran

3 Education Development and Research Center, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran

4 General Surgery Department, School of Medicine, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran

5 Department of Medical Education, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran


Introduction: Virtual social networks are increasingly beingused by academics and students in health sciences. It is necessaryto examine opportunities and challenges of these networks basedon the views of faculty and students to describe the existingsituation and planning for proper use. The purpose of this studywas to explore the experiences of students and faculty membersabout opportunities and challenges of using virtual socialnetworks in education.Methods: In this qualitative content analysis study, twentytwosemi-structured interviews were conducted with 8 facultymembers and 14 students at Jahrom Universities of MedicalSciences. Participants were selected by purposive sampling.To analyze the data, an inductive content analysis method wasused. The rigor of qualitative data was checked, using Guba andLincoln’s criteria.Results: Five main categories were extracted from the dataas opportunities for using virtual networks in educationincluding improving communication skills; promoting learning;strengthening and facilitating learning of clinical procedures;creating research questions; and educating patients. Four maincategories were also derived as challenges of using virtualnetworks in education including accuracy and validity ofinformation; security and privacy; proper contextualization andculture-building; and control and monitor on virtual networks.Conclusion: According to the results, unique opportunities andchallenges were explored regarding using virtual networks ineducation. These opportunities and challenges and finding waysto obviate challenges and converting it to the opportunities canlead to effective virtual learning, particularly in students whomainly use this method of education, and consequently increasethe quality of learning.Keywords: Social network, Education, Students, Faculty, Qualitative research

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