A Qualitative Analysis of Healthcare Students’ Perceptions Towards Online Learning due to the COVID-19 Pandemic
INTRODUCTION: While online learning has the ability to bring students and teachers together in the Distance Education (DE) mode, it is not feasible in the healthcare based professions. AIM: To analyze healthcare students’ perceptions towards online learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. MATERIALS AND METHOD: This qualitative, focus group-based study was done on the three focus groups consisting of 15 students each: medical, dental and allied sciences. Data were collected using observations from the recordings of the scheduled online interview which was approximately 30-minutes in length and the investigator asked questions from the pre-validated interview guide consisting of seven questions. Data was analyzed using the constant comparative method, which was then consequently categorized into two major areas: positive experiences and negative experiences. Positive experiences included: time flexibility, convenience, ease of connection and ease of learning; while negative experiences included instructor’s inexperience and a lack of interaction, self-motivation, isolation and missing out on practical learning. RESULTS: While responses of the positive experience ranged from “I have the flexibility to wake up few minutes before the lecture and directly log on for the lecture” to “Even during the closure of schools/ classes, I need not worry about lagging behind in my studies”; the negative experiences included statements like “the inexperience of the instructor in handling the teaching software led to difficulties and interruption in learning” and “I am a great loss due to missing patient work!! How am I going to become a good doctor if I don’t practise on patients under supervision of my staff”. CONCLUSION: While students are slowly adapting themselves to online based learning, those belonging to the healthcare sector are missing out on their practical classes which has the potential to hamper the quality of care being provided by them as future professionals.
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