Journal of Dr. NTR University of Health Sciences

ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year
: 2022  |  Volume : 11  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 138--142

An alternative method of teaching for the medical students- the need of the hour


Arijit Majumdar1, Soumali Biswas2, Angshuman Jana3,  
1 Department of Pathology, DMGMC and H, Purulia, West Bengal, India
2 Department of Anatomy, Institute of Post–Graduate Medical Education and Research, Kolkata, West Bengal, India
3 Department of Microbiology, BSMC, Bankura, West Bengal, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Arijit Majumdar
Vill- Duilya, charaktala, PO – Andul, Howrah – 711 302, DMGMC and H, Purulia, Kolkata, West Bengal
India

Abstract

Aim and Objective: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has caused an unprecedented disruption in the medical education and health care systems worldwide. In India, responses to the COVID19 pandemic in medical education resulted in the closure of medical colleges and the adoption of online teachinglearning methods, which is challenging for both the faculty and students. Rising concerns among the students urged to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the ongoing online teaching and learning methods. The objective of the study was to find out the perceptions of the students and faculties regarding E-learning during the lockdown period of the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: A descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted at the BS Medical College Bankura. A sample size of 500 was calculated. MBBS students of all semesters participated in this study. The responses were collected from 50 teachers. Two separate Google questionnaires for the students and teachers were developed and were validated by the Medical Education Unit of the college. The respective Google questionnaires were mailed to the students and faculty. The data were transferred to the Excel sheet and analysis was done on various parameters to derive descriptive statistics between classroom teaching and online teaching. Results: A total of 500 responses from the students and 50 responses from the faculties were received; 300 (60%) males and 200 (40%) females participated in the study. About 45% of the students and 40% of the teachers used mobile phones as their gadgets for E-learning and most of the teachers used laptops as their devices and preferred Google Meet as their platform of online teaching. Overall, only 10% of the teachers and 15% of the students preferred to use only E-learning. About 30% of the students preferred classical didactic learning; 50% of the teachers and 55% of the students preferred a combination of classical offline and E-learning as useful methods of learning. Conclusions: Students did not prefer E-learning over classroom learning. The teachers admit the usefulness of E-learning but classroom learning with rational use of E-learning is preferred by both.



How to cite this article:
Majumdar A, Biswas S, Jana A. An alternative method of teaching for the medical students- the need of the hour.J NTR Univ Health Sci 2022;11:138-142


How to cite this URL:
Majumdar A, Biswas S, Jana A. An alternative method of teaching for the medical students- the need of the hour. J NTR Univ Health Sci [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 Oct 2 ];11:138-142
Available from: https://www.jdrntruhs.org/text.asp?2022/11/2/138/353221


Full Text



 Introduction



Medical education has many long-established pedagogical approaches to learning including face-to-face lectures in the classrooms via a teacher-centered model.[1] The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in 2020 has resulted in a sea change in the education system and medical education could not remain an exception. The closure of the medical colleges has disrupted the learning and education in the traditional way. While many will remember the COVID-19 pandemic as a source of disruption, it is likely that it will also be viewed as a catalyst for the transformation of medical education that had been brewing for the past decade. Social distancing measures have forced the educational institutes to adopt innovative ways to teach the students, however, providing adequate clinical experience is still a challenge.

The uncertainty of situation during this pandemic period in the country has led many medical colleges and health universities to initiate steps to start teaching and learning using various online platforms on their own, as there were no definitive directives other than the encouragement to initiate the use of online teaching methods from either the Medical Council of India (MCI) or any other statutory bodies.

As described by Howlett et al.,[2] “Electronic (e) or online learning can be defined as the use of electronic technology and media to deliver, support, and enhance both learning and teaching and involves communication between learners and teachers utilizing online content.” Despite the wide-based adoption of E-learning worldwide, it was never thought to be part of formal education in India until the spread of COVID-19 recently.[3] MCI has developed a new Competency Based Medical Education (CBME) curriculum which includes self-directed learning at every level which is mainly dependent on E-learning.[4] As technology rapidly advances, the health care education systems must also advance in tandem. To implement the new competency-based system and online education, the institutions and the individuals must realize the importance of online education, identify the barriers, and quickly work on the solutions for success.[cvd13]Multiple studies are needed to be conducted across the country to know the effectiveness of such teaching and learning tools both from the students and medical teachers.

To the best of our knowledge, there are few studies to evaluate students' perception toward online teaching-learning methods but the teachers' perceptions were not incorporated in most of those studies.

Given this background, the present study was conducted to evaluate simultaneously the student's as well as the teacher's perception toward traditional and online teaching-learning methods and to evaluate the efficacy of the online teaching-learning process. A survey of online class participants would give us an idea of which areas to concentrate upon in this 'new normal' era.

 Materials and Methods



The study was undertaken in the BS Medical College, Bankura. A total of 500 MBBS students of all semesters and 50 medical teachers were included in the present study. The study was conducted in a form of a survey with the help of a structured questionnaire and the responses from the participants were collected online using the Google form.[5]

The questionnaire for the students comprised three sections: the first section included socio-demographic details (gender, year of MBBS). The second section included details of online classes they attended over 6 months (June 1, 2020, to December 31, 2020). These included the types of devices and platforms used by the students. The third section was on the students' perception of online classes. A five-point Likert scale was used to determine the perception of audio quality, video quality, content, interactiveness, and discussion of doubts. The responses were categorized into very poor, poor, neutral, good, and excellent.

A predesigned and pretested questionnaire was administered to all the faculties who were involved in online teaching after taking informed consent. The questionnaire was related to the faculties' perception of online teaching and learning. A five-point Likert scale was used in the questionnaire. The options included were 1—strongly disagree, 2—disagree, 3—neutral, 4—agree, and 5—strongly agree.

The data were transferred to the Excel sheet and the analysis was done on various parameters to derive the descriptive statistics between classroom teaching and online teaching. Here, none of the inferential statistics was done. A restriction on the number of responses from a single email address was enforced to prevent duplicate responses from the participants. Completed data as obtained in the Google forms with response rate was 100%.

Ethical clearance for the research was obtained from the Institute Ethics committee (IEC) of the BS Medical College, Bankura, via letter number BSMCH/ME/PR/3735; dated May 15, 2020.

 Results



A total of 500 MBBS students participated in the study. Gender and semester distributions are represented in [Table 1] which shows 300 (60%) males and 200 (40%) females among the students who participated in the study. The male: female ratio was similar among the teachers. Most of the responders, 330 (66%), were from the first and the second years[Table 1].{Table 1}

The types of devices used by the students and teachers are shown in [Table 2].{Table 2}

[Table 3] shows the different online platforms used for online teaching and preference of students and teachers regarding the platforms of online teaching.{Table 3}

The participant students were asked to rate five components of online classes using a five-point Likert scale, which included clearing doubts, interactiveness, contents of the class, audio quality, and video/image/slide quality. This is depicted in [Table 4].{Table 4}

The responses (category-wise) of the faculty members toward online teaching are shown in [Table 5].{Table 5}

The overall perceptions of the participants are recorded in the following [Figure 1].{Figure 1}

 Discussion



The basic concept of online learning is more than 150 years old. An attempt of learning was initiated through correspondence courses to facilitate learning beyond geographical and time barriers.[6] Since March 2020, medical education in India has experienced a major disruptive change as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic and nationwide lockdown. Measures to prevent the spread, and hence, to ensure social distancing have led to the closure of medical schools and have compelled the situation of working from home for both the medical teachers and students. At present, undergraduate teaching is being conducted by various methods using various online platforms by many medical colleges without any uniformity. There is a need for multiple studies to be conducted across the country to know the effectiveness of such teaching and learning tools both from the students and medical teachers.

To the best of our knowledge, there have been no studies on the teachers' and/or students' perspectives of online classes during the COVID-19 lockdown in eastern India, especially West Bengal. The study aims to describe, evaluate, and provide pertinent recommendations about interactive distance education in the experience and resource-limited medical college during the COVID-19 pandemic to address the current multiple challenges. The evaluation focuses on the educational experience, outcomes, and perception of the learners and medical educators toward the practice of distance education.

Our survey included 500 MBBS students of all the semesters as well as 50 medical teachers. Most of the students were in the 1st and 2nd year of MBBS which is similar to the study done by Giliyaru S et al.[7] Our study indicates that among the 500 students, 45% of the students use mobile phones as their gadgets for E-learning and 35% use laptops followed by desktop (15%) and tablet (5%) which is very similar to the other studies done in India and other developing countries.[8] But half of the teachers used laptops and others used mobile phones (40%) followed by tablets (6%) and desktops (4%). A study[9] observed that the use of mobile is an easy way to have interaction with the teachers, and hence, it is preferred. The use of laptops is the next choice for many of the students. A study[10] showed that the students prefer laptops for their E-learning activities. Our study shows that most of the students (56%) and the teachers (50%) prefer Google Meet as the online learning platform for live lectures and demonstrations. A recent study conducted by Kazi and Shidhore on the usage of Google Classroom sessions as a modern E-learning tool for dental undergraduate students also reveals that Google Classroom is a productive and efficient modern E-learning tool for the students. It was also suggested that research studies can be carried out on comparisons of different web-based platforms/portals to determine the best which suits the students and teachers.[11]

On the whole, the participants rated 'very poor' to 'excellent' for factors like video, audio, content, and clearing of doubts on the content covered during the lectures. Online classes lack sufficient interaction. Moreover, a sudden shift toward the use of online teaching on a large scale has led to inconsistencies with medical curricula with many teachers being inadequately prepared.[12] The faculties found that the effort and time for preparation are acceptable. They were encouraged to use technology in education after this experience. While the faculties need more work and continuous improvement and motivation to teach online,[13] they become more efficient once they are more familiar with the curriculum's setup and operation. Because remote learning is going to become a major way of theoretical education for at least several months, there will be an urgent need for teachers' training[14],[15]

The audio-visual streaming experience's quality and clarity, mostly reflective of the Internet connection, were low as most students perceived but were fair-good for the instructors and teaching faculty. This is a significant finding of the study. This finding is in keeping with the results obtained by Tuma et al.[16]

In our study, classical didactic classes were favored by 30% of the students and 40% of the teachers whereas online classes were preferred by 10% of the teachers and 15% of the students. The study reflects on the evaluation and review of distance medical education curriculum implementation due to COVID-19 with limited prior experience and preparedness. Although the users perceived the distance education format as less effective, they found it a worthwhile alternative to the traditional face-to-face education during the pandemic.[16] The students are likely to perform better when the components of online and offline classes are mixed judiciously. More than half (55%) of the students and half of the teachers preferred this combined approach. Many studies reported face-to-face learning as a better option[17] similar to our study. A study[18] concluded E-learning as satisfying. Developing countries like India lack infrastructure, in terms of sufficient classrooms, medical educators, and other academic resources. Online learning can bridge the gap and strengthen the quantity and quality of medical education as it is flexible and adaptable.[19] However, providing patient contact and clinical experience is still a challenge. Overall, the present findings indicate online teaching alone is not the preferred mode for teaching, and therefore, cannot be an alternative to the classical teaching method.

 Conclusions



As the months pass, we have no other choice but to realize that medical education is going to be a long-term challenge and that the health situation will not permit a rapid 'back-to-normal' way of life. It is concluded from the study that online teaching is beneficial but the students prefer the traditional teaching-learning method over it. The medical students feel that for their practical hands-on learning, there is no alternative, and clinical personal learning can never be replaced. So, online teaching can be just a stopgap option for teaching subject theory in the current scenario of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the students need to be taught the practical aspects once they return to the college, post-lockdown. This calamity has provided us with an opportunity to evaluate the alternative modes of medical education and assessments. However, it is essential to realize that the study does not evaluate the standard distance or online education or compare distance to face-to-face education. Distance learning was used as an alternative option, on an urgent basis, for every aspect of the learning, and without adequate planning and preparation. The key lesson to be learned from this experience is that distance learning outcomes used on an urgent basis differ from those used with adequate prerequisites. It is appropriate that educational institutions adhere to the blended learning approach including both online and offline methods after the lockdown period.

Limitations

The limitations of our study are (1) It was a single institution-based study. (2) There was not equal involvement from students of all the years. (3) There was not equal involvement of faculties of all the departments.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

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