Abstract Title
The Perception of Instant Messaging Group Communications in Thai Medical Students


Polathep Vichitkunakorn
Krishna Suvarnabhumi
Uraiwan Pattanasattay


3AA Mobile learning and social networks


The Department of Community Medicine, Prince of Songkla University, Thailand
Health Promotion and Occupational Health, Prince of Songkla University, Thailand

  • Learning technologies are popular because of convenience and flexibility. LINE® is an attractive application for instant messaging (IM) group communications on smartphones or PCs.


  • The Department of Surgery at Prince of Songkla University has implemented instant messaging (IM) group communications for medical students to increase contact time between the advisor and medical students.


Summary of Work
  • Objective: To examine the perception of IM (Instant message) group communications in Thai medical students.


  • Study design: Retrospective study


  • Study setting: Faculty of Medicine, Prince of Songkla University, Hatyai, Songkhla, Thailand


  • Population: IM group discussion user in Preoperative to postoperative care of 4th year medical students


  • Data collection: In-depth interviews conducted in Thai by psychologist (theoretical saturation)


  • Analysis: 3 types of coding (open, axial, and selective coding), Ethnograph 6.0.


Figure 1: Line group discussion

Summary of Results
  • 18 in-depth interviews. There were 10 males and 8 females who were from 22 to 24 years old. one of them do not have a smartphone or tablet.


Table 1: Learner domain
Pros Cons
Self-confidence Participation personality
Effective class preparation Coverage of equipment
Learning habits Learning habits


  • “I felt more confident in discussions in either IM group and face-to-face since we have learned together”


  • “I fulfilled my course without the devices (smartphone and tablet). Usage depends on the user’s aim. I guess that if our friends do not have them, someone will”


Table 2: Knowledge content domain
Knowledge content
Pros Cons
Knowledge sharing Precise content
Persistent subjective data Lack of non-verbal communications


  • “It (Instant message) has been characterized as lacking nonverbal communication such as body language, facial expression, and eye contact.”


Table 3: Equipment domain
Pros Cons
Convenience Graphic interface / console
Active learning method Small typing surface


  • “Text delivered on instant messaging makes it possible anytime anywhere”
  • IM group communications can be an additional learning tool.


  • The number of participants should be less than 10 and the questions and answers should be short.
Take-home Messages
  • Technology can give us the opportunity to enhance face-to-face interactions, not replace them
Summary of Work
  • Questions: Participants were approached with 4 main questions.
    • The academic experience of the device and systems
    • Usage style
    • Comparison with traditional group discussion
    • IM as medical education tool in the future
Summary of Results
    1. Learner:
      • Building self-confidence
        • “When discussing face-to-face, I feel shy to ask or answer the questions and cannot predict the teacher’s emotion. I have more confidence if I use it (instant messaging)”
        • “I felt more confident in discussions in either IM group and face-to-face since we have learned together”
        • “Each member has a role to be accuountable for the success of the task”
        • “I feel more self-confident because of less face-to-face interaction and my personality is very shy”
        • “It (Instant messaging) can solve the lack of confidence in a problem in medical students”
      • Effective class preparation
        • “I have preparation time to surf the internet, more time to relax” (I8)
        • “Have preparation time to complete the answer” (I9, I12)
        • “I have been happier in ward rounds because I learn beforehand what I should to know” (I15)
      • Building learning habits
        • “It (Instant messaging) helps me create questions. Nowadays, I have practiced this in my work”
        • “It (Instant messaging) promotes the self-directed learning in medical education”
      • Knowledge sharing
        • “It (Instant messaging) encourages us to share knowledge with each other. Previously, I got the knowledge from lectures and the cases I was responsible for”
        • “Group discussion, moderated by the teacher, is more active than self-group discussion.”
        • “I am not an active group discussion user. However, I got the content from my friend’s discussions; that is enough for me.”
        • “Previously, I loved to review the lessons myself. So, I do not know my mistakes. Although, the device can promote sharing knowledge, we can learn from the mistakes of others.”
        • “The lesson can be separated into many parts and assigned to our friends. Then, we will share each part with others by discussion in instant message discussions”
        • “We can verify our knowledge via discussions with our modulator.”
        • “I would like to study our assigned topic which I learned in the group discussion. Then, we can effectively discuss”
        • “While we usually work in the ward, we have to concentrate on the cases we were assigned and not pay attention to other cases. Instant message group discussion can promote sharing knowledge in our free time. “
    2. Instructional equipment (smartphone/tablet):
      • Convenience and user friendliness
        • “I can drop my ‘not urgent’ message to the console. That is easy to use.”
        • “Our system (IM group discussion) has the ability for a quick and smooth reply of the messages without having to move away from the task at hand.”
        • “quick reply, easy to use”
        • “It (Instant message) is the easiest way to learn 24 hours a day; I can immediately ask my friends and teachers anytime”
        • “Text delivered on instant messaging makes it possible anytime anywhere”
        • “After class, teachers do not have enough time to communicate with students”
      • Interest active learning method
        • “It (Instant messaging) is a form of two-way communication. However, the communication depends on the teacher and leader to create the education model. I use it as one-way communication. The teacher assigns us the topics to discuss in next day, not in chat box.”
    3. Knowledge content:
      • Persistent subjective data
        • “I love to save the interest image or capture a screen shot when we discuss the case. After that, I can review it any time such as when I am working or relaxing”
        • “Previously, I usually forgot my assignment. Nowadays, I can recall them more easily.”
        • “I can review the previous messages for more than five to six months such as the messages, pictures, and VDOs
    1. Instructional equipment (smartphone/tablet):
      • Graphic interface and console framework
        • “It (Smartphone) has a smaller typing surface area, so you don’t have to move your index finger very far.”
        • “Difficult to find a good way to position my fingers for typing (smartphone)” (I2)
        • “My iphone’s buttons are too small, they should be enlarged; mistakes usually occur”
        • “Thumb-typing on my smartphone screen may not be good enough for academic activities or more wordy activities such as typing a long email or taking notes in a conference”
        • “It (Instant messaging) sometimes is not helpful, if wordy; it isn’t comfortable when typing a long message”
        • “It (Instant messaging) is something that can be answered with a simple yes or no, but not good for complicated sentences.”
        • “Be brief be brief, be brief. I give the response, but there are not many words I can shorten”
        • “Yes clarity and understanding is something that is surely lacking in instant messaging because you can easily misinterpret the meaning of the other person’s message”
        • “Long paragraphs hurt my eyes, I have to break long text up into diffrent texts.”
    2. Learner:
      • Participation personality
      • Coverage of equipment
        • “I fulfilled my course without the devices (smartphone and tablet). However, I have used an ipad that my mom bought for me a few months ago. So, I always play games on my ipad. (Laugh). Usage depends on the user’s aim. I guess that if our friends do not have them, someone will” (I)
        • “A modulator is different than a leader. The modulator should be a teacher, not our friends. Previously, we have many friend groups for appointment reminders and gossip (laugh). We do not pay respect and comply with our friends. It is vastly different”
    3. Knowledge content:
      • Precise content,
      • Temporal multimedia
        • “Cannot load the photo because it is longer available”
        • “Sometimes, I have to review the photo that was discussed about 3 to 4 months ago. However, I cannot access it any more”
      • Can not express non-verbal communication
        • “It (Instant message) has been characterized as lacking nonverbal communication such as body language, facial expression, and eye contact.”
        • “The use of emotions or stickers comes close to an expression during face-to-face communication, but only just close”
        • “Actually, I do not reply due to unpredictable emotion. If someone wants to get in touch with me, they should call me”
Take-home Messages
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