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Shifting from classic learning environment to digital learning environment in Arab culture
Social media discussion forums, blogs, wikis and three-dimensional virtual worlds are the current new techniques for learning. External social media sites, including Facebook (Facebook, Inc., Menlo Park, CA, USA), YouTube (YouTube, LLC, San Bruno, CA, USA), Wikipedia (Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., San Francisco, CA, USA), Flickr (Yahoo Inc., Sunnyvale, CA, USA), Twitter (Twitter, Inc., San Francisco, CA, USA), LinkedIn (LinkedIn, Mountain View, CA, USA) and Second Life (Linden Lab, San Francisco, CA, USA), have been considered as very useful learning and teaching tools in recent years. This provides a chance for student-centred and social constructivist pedagogies in an online environment, and enables students to easily contribute and collaborate to e-learning environments. The influences of social media have reached Arab culture and are quickly spreading. This study highlights the use of these media for self-directed learning (SDL) purposes among medical students. This is a cross-sectional study and the questionnaire was constructed using the Delphi technique at Google (Google Inc., Mountain View, CA, USA) documents and was uploaded to different social media sites. The questionnaire comprised 28 questions, which included information relating to demographic features and utilization of social media during SDL time. The data were entered into Statistical Product and Service Solutions (SPSS) version 21 (IBM Corporation, Armonk, NY, USA) and Pearson chi-squared tests were applied for comparison. We received a total of 103 responses in 1 week, 52 of which (50.5%) were from men. The greatest proportion of responses came from students in their fifth year (35%), followed by those in their fourth year and first year (18.4%). Most students (63%) scored a grade-point average of 4–5 points. Out of the total, only eight students (7.8%) responded that they do not use social network sites at all. Almost one-third of responders (33%) utilized social networks for SDL for 2–3 hours daily, and 84 responders (81%) declared that these social media sites are helpful during preparation for their examinations. Age, sex and academic year have a significant association (P<0.05) with the use of social media. In conclusion, it is reported that the culture of using of social media is increasing in Arab society; however, we need to provide the guidance for its proper utilization for SDL purposes.