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How do German veterinarians use social networks? A study, using the example of the 'NOVICE' veterinary medicine network.

Research paper by Elisabeth E Schaper, Neil D ND Forrest, Andrea A Tipold, Jan P JP Ehlers

Indexed on: 08 Mar '13Published on: 08 Mar '13Published in: GMS Zeitschrift fur medizinische Ausbildung



Abstract

NOVICE (Network Of Veterinary ICT in Education, http://www.noviceproject.eu/), is a professional online social network for veterinarians, lecturers and students of veterinary medicine as well as for e-Learning advisers and others working in establishments that teach veterinary medicine. This study sets out to investigate to what extent German veterinarians, lecturers, students of veterinary medicine and e-Learning representatives would accept a specialist network, what requirements would have to be met by an online social network, how to use web 2.0 tools [21], [30] and what advantages a specialist network could offer.The investigation was carried out by analysing data from the Elgg platform database as well as using Google Analytics. Annual focus group surveys and individual interviews were carried out in order to perform an analysis of acceptance among network users.1961 users from 73 different countries registered on the NOVICE site between 1 September 2010 and 21 March 2012. Germany represents the biggest user group, with 565 users (28.81%). During this period, most individual hits on the website came from Germany too. In total, 24.83% of all members are active, while 19.22% of German members participate actively. In terms of gender, there are significantly more female members than male members, both in the NOVICE network as a whole as well as in Germany. The most used web 2.0 tools are chat and email messaging services as well as writing wikis and contributing to forum discussions. The focus group surveys showed that respondents generally make use of other online communities too. Active members generally use more web 2.0 tools than in other networks, while passive members are generally more reluctant in all networks. All participants of the survey welcomed the idea of having a network specifically set up for the profession and believe that it could be very useful for veterinary medicine.The network and its membership figures developed very positively during the assessed time period. Until now, the focus of the content of contributions in NOVICE (Network of Veterinary ICT in Education) has been on veterinary medicine teaching supported by e-Learning. An increase in the number of members would, however, be beneficial in order to further develop the network so that valuable exchange of information and informal learning can also take place in other specialist areas of veterinary medicine.