|Ahead of print publication
Perception of Medical Faculty and Students about Online Teaching during the COVID-19 Pandemic in a Tertiary Care Teaching Institute
Nidhi Maheshwari1, Bhupinder Singh Kalra2, Vandana Roy2
1 Department of Pharmacology, School of Medical Science and Research (SMSR), Sharda University, Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India
2 Department of Pharmacology, Maulana Azad Medical College and Associated Hospitals, New Delhi, India
|Date of Submission||30-Oct-2021|
|Date of Decision||10-Nov-2021|
|Date of Acceptance||19-Nov-2021|
|Date of Web Publication||18-Feb-2022|
Department of Pharmacology, Maulana Azad Medical College and Associated Hospitals, New Delhi-110002
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
Background: Classroom teaching has been found to be the most common modality used for teaching. The unusual situation of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic led to the shutdown of all educational institutions across the country. To limit the spread of the coronavirus, classroom teaching had to be abandoned and online teaching was sought for to continue the learning process. The study was conducted with the aim of assessing the perception of faculty as well as undergraduate medical students toward online teaching and learning methodology. Methods: A cross-sectional observational study using two separate pretested, structured questionnaires for faculty and students was conducted. The questionnaire had a total of 45 questions for collecting data on demographic information, awareness, perception and knowledge toward online teaching, perception about establishing connect between teachers and students through online portal, and operational and technical aspects. These questionnaires were mailed to faculty and students using Google forms (Google Survey platform). Results: A total of 47 teaching faculty and 386 students responded to the questionnaires. More than 70% faculty availed the training and guidance provided for online teaching. The move to switch over to online mode of teaching during lockdown was appreciated by majority (95%) of respondents. The faculty members made use of online polls, surveys, and educational videos for making online lectures interesting. In addition, online assessments (72%) and use of an interactive software (70%) were found worthy and useful. Majority of (80%) students missed direct and in person contact with instructor. Majority of the students (60%) felt isolated and alone during online teaching sessions. One-third of the students believed that instructors were able to generate interest in the topic and 63% of students were satisfied with the explanations delivered with regard to queries during online lectures. The major disadvantages that surfaced were limited options for two-way communication (55%), technical glitches (70%), social isolation (63%), eye strain, and other health-related issues (62%). Internet connectivity emerged as the biggest limitation by faculty members. Conclusion: Overall, the respondents were of the opinion that online teaching was a useful modality during COVID-19 and can be used as a complementary aid to regular teaching in. Adequate infrastructure and uninterrupted internet connectivity is vital for smooth conduct of online teaching.
Keywords: E-learning, medical students, online teaching
|How to cite this URL:|
Maheshwari N, Kalra BS, Roy V. Perception of Medical Faculty and Students about Online Teaching during the COVID-19 Pandemic in a Tertiary Care Teaching Institute. MAMC J Med Sci [Epub ahead of print] [cited 2023 Jan 28]. Available from: https://www.mamcjms.in/preprintarticle.asp?id=337893
| Introduction|| |
Medical education has been imparted to students predominantly through face-to-face in classrooms, demonstrations, practicals, and clinical teaching. This method of teaching and learning has been found to be most appropriate where skill-based training can be effectively delivered. Execution of this type of teaching and learning requires infrastructure, and movement of teachers and students from their residence to workplace or college and within the facility. Recently due to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, all educational institutions were shut down during the lockdown period. As a result, face-to-face classroom teaching was not possible and had to be abandoned till further orders.
As an alternative to classroom teaching, distance learning education using online technology (e-leaning) was adopted by educational institutions. Online teaching is instructions given via an electronic media in virtual environment which enables online interactions.
Online teaching is a challenge for faculty or instructors used to conventional teaching. Lack of training, apprehensions in using technology, acceptability by students, requirement of uninterrupted internet connectivity both at teachers’ and students’ end, and availability of software are some of the constraints in online teaching and learning methods. A longitudinal study of students’ preparedness for and perceptions of e-learning in the United Kingdom and Europe suggests that students enter university with at least a basic level of information technology (IT) skills and that they have access to and a willingness to use IT for study as well as social and recreational activities. Students also have a positive attitude toward the use of IT to support teaching and learning. Online teaching has grown tremendously over the past several years as technology has been integrated into education and training.
Online teaching method was for the first time adopted in Maulana Azad Medical College (MAMC) and Associated Hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic for undergraduate medical students of all semesters. It was organized at a short notice and faculty was sensitized and trained for the use of adopted software for online teaching.
This study was conducted with the aim of assessing the perception of faculty as well as undergraduate medical students toward online teaching and learning methodology and to assess its utility and shortcomings. It was expected to bring out the experience and expectations of the faculty and students along with shortcomings regarding the same with the idea that the institute could build up on this experience in future.
| Materials and Methods|| |
The study was conducted in the Department of Pharmacology, MAMC and Associated Hospitals, Delhi after obtaining approval from the Institute Ethics Committee.
Study population: Faculty/teachers and undergraduate medical students of MAMC.
Study design: Cross-sectional observational study
Study duration: 3 months (from July 2020 to September 2020)
Two separate pretested, structured questionnaires for faculty and students were used as study tools. Each questionnaire was framed with a total of 45 questions for collecting data on demographic information, awareness, perception, and knowledge toward online teaching and software used.
The questionnaires were designed to elicit perception of faculty and students about establishing engagement between teachers and students through online portal. Operational as well as technical issues during conduct of online classes were also inquired upon. These questionnaires were mailed to faculty and students using Google forms (Google Survey platform).
| Results|| |
A total of 47 teaching faculty and 386 students from MAMC and Associated Hospitals responded to the questionnaire.
Faculty: There were more female respondents [28 (59.6%)] than male respondents [19 (40.4%)]. Majority of the respondents were from the age group of 31 to 40 years [26 (55.3%)], followed by the age group of 41 to 60 years [19 (40.4%)]. Respondents with the designation of assistant professors 19 (40.4%) contributed in highest numbers compared to director professor [6 (12.8%)], professors [12 (25.6%)], and associate professors [10 (21.3%)]. Highest number of respondents were from the department of pharmacology [9 (19.9%)] followed by pediatrics [6 (12.8%)] and pathology [5 (10.6%)]. Most of the respondents [22 (46.8%)] had a moderate duration of service from 6 to 20 years, whereas 15 (31.9%) respondents had an experience of <6 years and 10 (21.3%) were in >20 years of service.
Students: There were more males [226 (58.5%)] when compared with female respondents [160 (41.5%)]. Majority were from the age group of 19 to 20 years [225 (58.3%)] followed by the age group of 21 to 22 years [117 (30.3%)]. Maximum participation was from students of the fifth semester [146 (37.8%)] followed by the second semester [137 (35.5%)].
Awareness in use of technology for online teaching/interaction
Faculty: Of the teachers in the study, 98% had taken online classes at MAMC during lockdown and 21 (44.7%) of faculty members had previously conducted an online teaching (meeting/workshop/seminar) session. Forty-two (89.4%) respondents were aware of various online platforms that can be used for teaching, Zoom, Webex, GoToWebinar, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Skype, etc. Participants became aware of these platforms via multiple means, viz., on account of previous participation in various scheduled meetings held on these online platforms [32 (68.1%)], courses/workshops attended on online teaching [14 (29.8%)], and observed their children using these tools [11 (23.4%)].
Students: About 171 (44.3%) of students had attended an online class previously and 292 (76.2%) were comfortable with using online technology for learning. Respondents were aware of multiple online teaching platforms such as GoToMeeting, Webex, Google Meet, You tube, Zoom, etc. As majority of the students became aware of these online platforms out of self-interest [148 (38.3%)], quite a few learnt about these through some other sources of medical teaching they have been undergoing [117 (30.3%)]. Around 57 (15%) respondents attended online classes in school and the rest attended some courses/workshops on tools for online interactions [64 (16.6%)].
Perception toward online teaching tool
Faculty: More than 90% of faculty members were comfortable using the online platform. On the other hand, 70.2% availed guidance on conducting online teaching sessions, 53.2% obtained the same from their colleagues out of which 78.3% agreed that they were satisfied with the guidance provided. The faculty members made use of online polls, surveys, and educational videos for making online lectures interesting and the user friendly software helped in this aspect [Figure 1]. Majority used laptop [33 (70.2%)] and desktop was used by 14 (29.8%) for conducting online classes.
Students: All the students participating in the survey had smart phones. Most of the students used smart phones [288 (74.6%)] followed by laptop [50 (13%)] and Ipad [40 (10.4%)] for attending online classes [Figure 2].
Perception toward online teaching
Faculty: Majority of the faculty members (95.7%) and lower percentage of students (70.7%) were opined to take up of online teaching as replacement for offline regular classes during COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. More than half (57.4%) of the faculty members were actually delighted with this decision taken by the institute, whereas 17 (36.2%) were apprehensive but happy at the opportunity to learn something new. There was a divided opinion about the difference in preparation underwent for the conduct of online classes, with 48.9% of faculty members feeling it was not different from regular offline classes, and 46.8% felt the opposite [Table 1].
Students: In contrast, a variable response was received from students when they received the news of online classes. One-third (30.1%) of the students were delighted yet apprehensive at the opportunity to learn something new, whereas 24.4% were actually relieved that classes would begin and that they could engage with teachers. Quite a few of them (12.2%) did not actually appreciate the idea, as they had not performed this before and 11.4% of the students thought that this was not an appropriate method of teaching.
Approximately, two-third of the students (64.8%) felt that the displayed online content was satisfactory and easy to follow, whereas only 30.6% felt that they were more attentive and content was clearly audible and visible when compared with classroom teaching. Online learning assessments were conducted by various departments and 71.7% of the students felt that they were helpful [Figure 3] and [Figure 4].
|Figure 3 Response of students on online learning assessments conducted at regular intervals.|
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|Figure 4 Response of students on different forms of online learning assessments.|
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Perception regarding engagement and operational systems
Faculty: The faculty as well as students clearly opined for missing direct and in-person interaction with each other [Figure 5]. Only 38% of the faculty believed that they were able to generate interest in the topic being taught. Good connect with students during online classes was possible only for 8% of the faculty. About 55% of the faculty were able to carry out question/answer chat and polls during their respective lectures.
|Figure 5 Perception of faculty toward established connect with students.|
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Interrupted internet connectivity was a major hindrance in conducting and attending the online classes. Approximately 35% of faculty reported that internet connectivity was not suitable to support online lectures in hospital as well as in college building. More than 70% of the participants reported that technical issues such as visual and sound problems hindered the online classes.
Students: About 80% of students missed direct and in-person contact with instructor. Majority of the students (60%) felt isolated and alone during online teaching sessions, 35% of the students believed that instructors were able to generate interest in the topic and 63% of students were satisfied with the explanations delivered with regard to queries during online lectures. Around 70% of the students were concerned with interrupted internet connectivity. In addition, around 62% of the students believed that online learning on mobile phones is not a comfortable option [Figure 6].
Overall, it was opined that online teaching is a useful way that could be implemented as an aid to regular teaching in some form. It can supplement offline teaching in the form of regular assessments. However, it cannot replace the traditional ways of teaching in medical schools. Students (46%) believed that online teaching could be a useful way to teach medical subjects, 26% of students believe that online teaching could be more effective when compared with the regular lectures and 58% students would like to be assessed online in addition to conventional assessment [Figure 7] and [Figure 8].
| Discussion|| |
The purpose of the present study was to have an insight on perception of faculty and students with regard to online teaching during COVID-19 lockdown. The sample of the study represented both junior and senior faculty along with undergraduate students from first to final year. On analysis of findings, we observed that majority of faculty and students appreciated the launch of online classes for delivery of education as a substitute to offline classes. The Department of Pharmacology with the support of the IT department took the initiative for organizing online teaching for medical undergraduates in the college. The process, requirements, and planning for the same were worked out. Standard operating procedures for the use of software for conducting classes and assessments were mailed to all the departments. Faculty members of various departments were trained to conduct virtual sessions for students. The department followed up with individual departments to sort out any issues arising with the use of the online platform.
The unusual situation of the pandemic led to the shutdown of all educational institutions across the country. To limit the spread of the coronavirus, face-to-face classroom teaching had to be abandoned and within no time online teaching was adopted at our institute. The widespread introduction of online technologies to support teaching and learning has significantly altered the practice of teaching in many tertiary institutions. Teaching and learning in this online environment, however, involves shifts in both understanding and in behavior. Not only can this new environment provide a new engaging experience but may suggest or may provide opportunities for students which enable them to become self-directed and independent learners.
Students in health profession fields are required to gain and integrate theoretical and clinical knowledge in a suitable environment to become safe and competent health professionals. The importance of one-to-one supervision and hands-on training in such fields poses a challenge for online teaching method. Medical education is constantly growing at a rapid speed and to keep the upcoming doctors and established physicians at par with global standards, online teaching, and e-learning has become a necessary tool. It can be used in medical education to improve the efficacy of academic deliverance and make the learning sessions more captivating and retainable.
In the current scenario where due to COVID-19, regular face-to-face teaching was suddenly suspended and students had to vacate hostels and go home, the only way to engage students constructively was through online mode. This was also the only way possible to ensure that the teaching program for the students could continue in some way.
As majority of respondents mentioned that they were comfortable with technology and teaching software used, less than half had actually conducted or attended any online medical session earlier. Internet issues faced by all respondents escalated the problems further. Similar findings have been reported in published studies that have also quoted less preparation for the pandemic from technical aspects to be one of the disadvantages of e-learning. However, in our study, the comfort level with the use of software was possible as more than 70% of the participants availed guidance, most of them from their respective colleagues.
The online teaching tool used at our institute had inbuilt features of incorporating videos, polls, and surveys to make the session more interactive and at least half of the faculty members incorporated polls/surveys and another 80% used videos to make the online sessions interesting. Attendance documentation of 250 students in a single class was automated with the help of software which made the job little more convenient for at least 70% faculty members. Despite the most optimum use of all advanced features of a very sophisticated teaching tool, only 45% students found these classes interesting. This could be explained by the lack of active discussions initiated from the students’ end which was not feasible during e-lectures. Findings from another study reported that lack of discussions in monotonous lectures create boredom and demotivation among students.
Almost 70% of the participants agreed on the view that majority of the important points have been highlighted during the online classes and around the same number were satisfied with the conduct and quality of these sessions. A contrasting difference in opinion of the students and faculty was observed when it came to enthusiasm and interest (35% vs. 70%, respectively) to attend/conduct of online sessions. Only half of the participants believed that e-learning was fairly able to impart knowledge, understanding, and concepts.
The faculty members missed direct and in-person interaction with the students more than that missed by the students (96% vs. 71%). Students were encouraged to ask questions, which was agreed upon to a similar extent by both faculty and students (72% vs. 65%, respectively). About 71% of them were even satisfied with the explanation given by instructors. Similar proportion of faculty and students (38% vs. 36%) believed that interest in topic could not be created. This could be due to the reason that 75% of faculty members believed that the pace and style of online lectures could not be kept up to the mark as in offline classes and also 92% of them did not feel a good connect with the students.
Despite the availability (71%) and preparation (64%) of instructor throughout the class, as assessed by students, the latter (55%) were not majorly able to interact with the former. The disconnect and isolation felt by students (63%) with fellow students and teachers through online medium probably was the reason for not being able to find interest in the topic. Similar findings have been reported in other studies which conclude that self-discipline and clarity in goals of learning are ignored in e-learning due to poor interaction and absence of direct supervision.
Faculty must be equipped with innovative and state of art technology in this field to make their sessions more lively and interactive. Training of teachers for optimal use of software was also called upon. Infrastructure and uninterrupted internet connectivity are vital for smooth conduct of online teaching and was considered biggest limitation by faculty members. On analysis of responses, we felt gap in adequate usage of tool by senior and junior faculty. Junior faculty was found to be more forthcoming with ideas of conducting quizzes, case-based scenarios, etc. One of the studies conducted in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia also pointed out the lacunae in medical e-teaching to be technological constraints in terms of poor internet connectivity and faculty’s expertise in computer skills. Other lower middle-income countries too report the lack of infrastructure and technology to be barriers for both students and faculty to conduct online medical education.
From students’ perspective, online sessions should be more interactive and regular assessments during or end of each topic must be conducted. E-learning has limited student–teacher interaction, which has also been reported in other studies. In our study, 77% of the students used mobile phones for online classes which is in line with previously published study wherein 76% of students used mobile phones for e-learning. They were of the view to use software such as Microsoft One Note which simulate chalk talk method of teaching. Some students were perturbed by the fact that excessive usage of power point slides is being carried out which is an ineffective method of teaching.
One of the limitations of this study is the small sample size. To eliminate bias that could have been evident for the variation in technology used at different institutes in India, we preferred to restrict the study to our institute only.
| Conclusion|| |
Despite apprehensions, online mode of teaching was perceived well and was successful in filling the gap for teaching students created due to sudden shutdown by COVID-19 pandemic. Online mode cannot be a replacement for physical classes as it has some shortcomings such as limited option for two-way communication, technical glitches, inadequate for conduct of practical training, social isolation, eye strain, other health-related issues, etc. But at the same time, online teaching could be of good utility in small group teaching, assessments, conduct of extra classes, etc. A blended or hybrid form of learning which encompasses both offline and online teaching may provide better outcomes with regard to teaching and learning.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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