GPaedia: A Web 2.0 technology enhanced digital habitat to support the general practice learning community
Introduction: In the past decade, we have witnessed the rapid growth of Web 2.0 technologies. While Web 2.0 tools have been recognised for their potential to enhance and enrich learning practice, very little research has been done to examine the level of acceptance of these tools among medical educators and learners. The project described in this paper aimed to explore the capacities of Web 2.0 technologies to foster a community of learning in general practice (GP) education, through the piloting of a digital habitat model, which we called “GPaedia”.
Methods: The mixed-method study involved 150 participants, representing various general practice roles, from 15 Australian education institutions. Firstly, a questionnaire, semi- structured interviews and focus groups were conducted to investigate the participants’ views and adoption of Web 2.0 tools. These data were used to inform the development of “GPaedia”. A second questionnaire was then used to evaluate this pilot digital habitat.
Results: Participants showed a high level of interest in Web 2.0 technologies but a relatively low level of engagement. Age and roles in the learning community were two influential factors on their views and engagement. “GPaedia” was perceived to be effective in its ability to facilitate communication and collaboration, maintain confidentiality and enhance the quality of GP education.
Conclusion: The project demonstrated the potential of Web 2.0 technologies and a resource-rich digital habitat in GP education. The integration of Web 2.0 tools and quality resources enhanced “GPaedia’s” ability to support the professional development of GP learners. Relevant training and ongoing moderation were identified as critical factors in its future implementation.
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