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Use of Online Learning in Medical Education Delivery: Pros and Cons


1 Medical Education Unit Coordinator and Member of the Institute Research Council, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth Deemed to be University, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District,Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Submission21-Sep-2021
Date of Decision15-Jun-2021
Date of Acceptance26-Jul-2021
Date of Web Publication01-Nov-2021

Correspondence Address:
Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava,
Medical Education Unit Coordinator and Member of the Institute Research Council, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District, Tamil Nadu
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/mamcjms.mamcjms_104_20

  Abstract 


In the current era, information technology has found its scope and application across all the streams and the same applies to the field of medical education and health care industry. The emergence of the coronavirus disease-2019 pandemic has significantly affected the delivery of the medical curriculum. The adoption of online learning in medical institutions has neutralized the issue of accessibility and has enabled the teachers to continue the process of facilitation of learning. Regardless of the multiple merits that can be attributed to online learning, it has its inherent limitations and thus has to be supplemented by the conventional teaching-learning. Considering the multiple competencies that a medical student should acquire and the complexity of the medicine stream, the best approach will be to use online learning as an approach to supplement learning. It will be ideal to continue online learning till conventional learning becomes a feasible option, and then integrate the best aspects of online learning with face-to-face learning to simultaneously meet the varied needs of medical students. In conclusion, online learning has its own pro and cons, and the best approach is to use the technology for ensuring effective learning among medical students. This will essentially require adequate faculty development along with the necessary support from the administration and the technical team.

Keywords: Assessment, medical education, online learning



How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Use of Online Learning in Medical Education Delivery: Pros and Cons. MAMC J Med Sci [Epub ahead of print] [cited 2021 Dec 3]. Available from: https://www.mamcjms.in/preprintarticle.asp?id=329760




  Introduction Top


In the current era, information technology has found its scope and application across all the streams and the same applies to the field of medical education and health care industry.[1] In order to be a successful medical practitioner, the medical students are expected to be not only aware of the recent developments, but also should be in a position to use information technology to expedite the process of establishing a diagnosis through accessing electronic health records.[1],[2] This calls for the need to orient and expose the medical students to different options of online learning during their training period.

COVID-19 Pandemic and Online Learning

The emergence of the coronavirus disease-2019 pandemic has significantly affected the delivery of the medical curriculum.[3] In fact, the medical institutions have been closed to minimize the number of cases or interrupt the chain of transmission and this has disrupted the process of face-to-face teaching-learning.[3],[4] The good thing is that the process of teaching-learning has not been completely halted, rather we have adopted different online applications to streamline the process of teaching and assessment in the due course. The adoption of online learning in medical institutions has neutralized the issue of accessibility and has enabled the teachers to continue the process of facilitation of learning.[3],[4],[5]

Pros of Online Learning

Online learning paved the way to enable remote learning, wherein students can access the learning resource materials at their convenience.[1] The presence of multiple online applications definitely suggests ways to keep the class interactive and ensure active student participation. In fact, with the passage of time, we have identified options to concentrate on all the three major learning domains, and not only the cognitive domain.[3] Further, as most of these applications have an inbuilt mechanism for taking attendance, the administrative issue of recording attendance in each class has been taken care of.[1],[2] Moreover, as the lectures can be recorded, it gives the students freedom to continue their learning whenever they are free and strictly envisages adult learning. In other words, online learning has advocated for student-centered learning and encourages them to become self-directed and lifelong learners.[3],[6] Finally, the expenditures incurred on traveling or other logistics can be significantly minimized upon the adoption of online learning.[3]

Cons of Online Learning

Regardless of the multiple merits that can be attributed to online learning, it has its inherent limitations and thus has to be supplemented by conventional teaching-learning. Even today, most of the medical institutions have predominantly concentrated on the delivery of the cognitive domain and its assessment.[5],[6] It will not be wrong to say that the teaching-learning of skill and attitude domain has been sub-optimal and the same stands very much true for their assessment.[6],[7] Further, we cannot deny the fact that not all the institutions have been able to implement learning management systems within their setups, which clearly signifies that the so-called option of asynchronous learning can be materialized universally. In addition, access to the Internet on a daily basis for 4 to 6 h can also prove to be a big challenge for medical students both in terms of affordability and accessibility.[3],[4]

Potential Recommendations

Considering the multiple competencies that a medical student should acquire and the complexity of the medicine stream, the best approach will be to use online learning as an approach to supplement learning.[1],[2],[3] It will be ideal to continue online learning till conventional learning becomes a feasible option, and then integrate the best aspects of online learning with face-to-face learning to simultaneously meet the varied needs of medical students.[2],[6] However, till then, we cannot sit idle, instead steps should be taken to enhance the effectiveness of medical education delivery. The reforms in online learning have to start with a series of faculty development programs so that teachers are skilled and competent enough to pass on the information to students in an effective manner.[2],[3],[7]

Further, the emphasis on the cognitive domain can be reduced and students can be taught using case-based learning or other forms of learning, wherein students learn through clinical reasoning, critical thinking, problem-solving, and reflective learning.[3],[4],[5] The option of virtual grand rounds or virtual objective structured clinical examination or standardized patients can be used to ensure that learning continues in the psychomotor and attitude domain.[8],[9] Moreover, the option of breakout rooms can be utilized for conducting the assessment as well as to ensure learning in small groups.[7] Finally, the institutions can purchase a proctoring software to enable the conduct of fair assessments.[3]


  Conclusion Top


In conclusion, online learning has its own pro and cons, and the best approach is to use the technology for ensuring effective learning among medical students. This will essentially require adequate faculty development along with the necessary support from the administration and the technical team.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
Pei L, Wu H. Does online learning work better than offline learning in undergraduate medical education? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Med Educ Online 2019;24:1666538.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Sandars J, Lafferty N. Twelve tips on usability testing to develop effective e-learning in medical education. Med Teach 2010;32:956-60.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Mukhtar K, Javed K, Arooj M, Sethi A. Advantages, limitations and recommendations for online learning during COVID-19 pandemic era. Pak J Med Sci 2020;36:S27-S31.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Chiodini J. Online learning in the time of COVID-19. Travel Med Infect Dis 2020;34:101669.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Camargo CP, Tempski PZ, Busnardo FF, Martins MA, Gemperli R. Online learning and COVID-19: a meta-synthesis analysis. Clinics 2020;75:e2286.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
O’Doherty D, Dromey M, Lougheed J, Hannigan A, Last J, McGrath D. Barriers and solutions to online learning in medical education − an integrative review. BMC Med Educ 2018;18:130.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Haugen K, Metcalf KL. Assessment of online learning. Radiol Technol 2019;90:307-11.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
Blythe J, Patel NSA, Spiring W et al. Undertaking a high stakes virtual OSCE ("VOSCE") during Covid-19. BMC Med Educ 2021;21:221.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.
Sparkes D, Leong C, Sharrocks K, Wilson M, Moore E, Matheson NJ. Rebooting medical education with virtual grand rounds during the COVID-19 pandemic. Future Healthc J 2021;8:e11-e14.  Back to cited text no. 9
    




 

 
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