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Table of Contents
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 14-17

Perception of online classes during COVID-19 pandemic: A cross-sectional study among the students of a rural tertiary care center and dental college in Kerala, India


Department of Prosthodontics, Government Dental College, Alappuzha, Kerala, India

Date of Submission30-Oct-2020
Date of Acceptance22-Nov-2020
Date of Web Publication29-Mar-2021

Correspondence Address:
Dr. A R Adhershitha
Department of Prosthodontics, Government Dental College, Alappuzha, Kerala.
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/INJO.INJO_47_20

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  Abstract 

Purpose: To study the perception of online classes among the students of Government Dental College, Alappuzha, a rural tertiary care center and dental education institute in the state of Kerala, India, during COVID-19 pandemic. Materials and Methods: Questionnaire comprised of four domains: the first domain included socio-demographic details, the second domain was used to explore the details of online classes that happened during the pandemic, third domain was on the students’ perception of online classes and the fourth domain was on students’ likes and dislikes, suggestions and practices. Results: Media quality in various platforms and interaction potential with teachers were assessed. Even though understanding of the academic content was found good, perception of clinical/pre-clinical learning was poor. Preferred duration of each session was 45 min to 1 h. Majority of students preferred regular classes and few suggested a blended mode beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Sharing of reading materials in the form of multimedia slides or any other detailed reading format or recordings and a provision to store them for further reference too was preferred. Conclusions: Acceptable levels of e-learning experience were revealed by the study participants. In the Indian context, as a developing country, good network and internet coverage has to be ensured for students for the successful implementation of online education. E-learning can be adopted as an adjunct to traditional classroom learning after the prevailing pandemic.

Keywords: Blended learning, COVID-19, cross-sectional study, dental education, online class


How to cite this article:
Viswambharan P, Adhershitha A R, Rodrigues SV. Perception of online classes during COVID-19 pandemic: A cross-sectional study among the students of a rural tertiary care center and dental college in Kerala, India. Int J Oral Care Res 2021;9:14-7

How to cite this URL:
Viswambharan P, Adhershitha A R, Rodrigues SV. Perception of online classes during COVID-19 pandemic: A cross-sectional study among the students of a rural tertiary care center and dental college in Kerala, India. Int J Oral Care Res [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Apr 13];9:14-7. Available from: https://www.ijocr.org/text.asp?2021/9/1/14/312538

Prasanth Viswambharan and A. R. Adhershitha have equal contribution in developing concept, design, data collection, analysis, writing, and editing of the article and should be considered as primary authors.





  Introduction Top


One among the many sectors greatly affected during Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic is medical education, as all the colleges had to close down and stop classroom and clinical teaching as a measure to control the contagion and the spread of the virus. On the flip side, it is a prospect to remodel the structure of our educational systems and establish finer and updated policies in academia, felicitous for the present generation of pupils and mentors.[1] Studies revealed that digital learning has been strongly appreciated by students, and the e-learning stratagem has played a vital role in relieving the stress among medical students who were away from conventional learning methods due to nationwide lockdown in India.[2] While exploring the literature, it is evident that e-learning is equivalent to or even superior to traditional learning regarding knowledge gain and performance.[3],[4],[5],[6] Nevertheless, a blended learning, which is an integration of e-learning and face-to-face classroom learning, is reported to have greater students’ contentment, motivation, and self-assessment.[7] Even so, requirement of hands-on training and individual supervision in dentistry remains an enigma for teachers and students in the midst of this social distancing era.

Current research is intended to appraise the potential backing and groundwork needed for e-learning implementation, which became the need of the hour during today’s pandemic. This descriptive cross-sectional study, conducted among the predoctoral dental students of the Government Dental College, Alappuzha, a rural tertiary care center and dental education institute in the state of Kerala, India explores the readiness for e-learning adoption in dental education.

The challenges of online learning in dental education include understanding complex pathologies and procedures that require more involvement and discussions with teachers. Preclinical dental training is an important part of BDS curriculum. Online education appears to be the only judicious alternative during today’s pandemic, even though learning and understanding clinical and preclinical procedures through online platforms can be extremely challenging for the students.


  Materials and Methods Top


The participation in this research was considered voluntary, and students who had not attended any online class were excluded from the study population. The questionnaire comprised four domains: The first domain included sociodemographic details (gender, year of study, rural or urban). The second domain comprised details about their online classes that happened over the past five months (1 April 2020 to 31 August 2020), including type of devices and platforms they used. The third section comprised the students’ perception of online classes. A five-point Likert scale was used to determine the perception of audio and video quality, understanding the content of both preclinical and clinical learning, interactiveness, and clarification of doubts. The responses were categorized into five: very poor, poor, neutral, good, and excellent. The fourth domain comprised students’ likes and dislikes, suggestions, and practices. Participants were encouraged to select multiple answers for questions on likes and dislikes, devices used, platforms preferred, practices, and suggestions. This questionnaire was partially adapted from a previously published literature.[8] Personal communication with various stakeholders of the research minimized the possibility of biases such as nonresponse selection bias. The entire population was studied to keep the sampling error as minimum as possible and to improve the reliability of the study.

Coding, tabulation, and analysis of the observed data were done by using IBM SPSS Statistics for Windows (Version 20.0. Armonk, NY: IBM Corp.). Since the variables were categorical, summarized, and organized, descriptive data were reported as frequency and percentages. Analysis of questions on the perception of various aspects of online learning platforms with responses recorded on an ordinal scale (Very poor: 0 to Excellent: 4) was done by using the Mann–Whitney U test. A comparison between study groups for categorical dependant variables was done by using χ2 test. A P-value of <0.05 was considered statistically significant.


  Results Top


A total of 187 responses were obtained. Females constituted about 83.4% of the study sample. The study group consisted of 99 preclinical students (52.9%) and 88 clinical students (47.1%). It was observed that Zoom was the most preferred platform among the study participants (47.1%) followed by Google Meet (39.6%). [Figure 1] shows the perception of study participants on various aspects of online learning platforms. Almost 80% and 65% of participants rated the audio and video quality as neutral or good, respectively. Majority of the participants (38%) considered the academic content delivered through online platforms as good. More than half the respondents (56.2%) opined that the understanding and practice of preclinical dental procedures during online teaching was very poor/poor. Interaction with teachers during online classes was rated as good or excellent by 44.3% of study participants.
Figure 1: Perceptions of various aspects of online learning platforms by study participants

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There was no significant difference among preclinical and clinical students regarding various aspects of online classes except for video quality (P < 0.001) [Table 1]. More than half of the respondents preferred the duration of online classes to be in the range of 45min to 1h (55–60%) compared with less than 45min preferred by 40–45% of the participants. No statistically significant differences among the groups were noted [Table 2]. An analysis based on place of residence (rural and urban) was done for questions related to network issues such as audio and video quality [Table 3].
Table 1: Perceptions of various aspects of online learning platforms by study groups

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Table 2: Preferences of online classes

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Table 3: Comparison of aspects of online learning platforms based on region of residence

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Open-ended questions were asked for suggestions to improve online learning. Several students suggested that the government must ensure access and availability of internet connectivity at all places. Some of them were of the opinion that the classes need to be scheduled well in advance with a proper timetable. The use of a common learning platform and more interactive sessions were recommended. A few students felt that the sharing of reading materials in the form of multimedia slides or any other detailed reading format or recordings and a provision to store them for further reference would be useful in understanding the online classes better. Conducting evaluation in the form of short exams or viva voce was also proposed.


  Discussion Top


E-learning has emerged as an important supplementary gear to upgrade education in the field of health sciences. It will be beneficial to understand dental students’ preferences in connection with online education to effectively absorb e-learning into the dental school curriculum. The execution of online education and virtual classrooms will improve lecture attendance and students’ perception of improved academic performance.[9]

This descriptive study helped to reveal the pros and cons of virtual classrooms in a student’s perspective. Online learning, being less stressful, was the most cited advantage (n = 99) of this mode, followed by ability to see the teacher and the screen simultaneously (n = 51) and the possibility of learning at leisure (n = 49). A few of them (n = 48) did not perceive anything good about online classes. Among the disadvantages of online mode of learning, it was observed that a majority of students were experiencing network issues (n = 151). Visual and auditory fatigue was also experienced by participants. Lack of interaction and having too many classes were cited as other reasons.

When preference of the prospective mode of classes after the COVID-19 pandemic was assessed, it was observed that the majority of students in both groups (preclinical and clinical students) preferred regular classes (>70%) and a few suggested a blended mode, which is a combination of both regular and online classes.

An analysis based on place of residence (rural and urban) for questions related to network issues such as audio and video quality revealed no statistically significant difference (P = 0.772 and 0.611, respectively) between the groups. Based on the responses obtained from the perceived disadvantages of online learning, it was observed that 83.4% of rural and 91.6% of urban residents reported network issues.

Virtual classrooms can be a feasible alternative to the conventional learning for dental undergraduates during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. Beyond the prevailing pandemic era, they can be used as an adjunct to conventional classroom learning, which will be of greater advantage for the students as it is perceived to be less stressful. But as notified by the participants, understanding and acquiring of essential preclinical and clinical skills, which are indispensable components of dental education, is difficult through this medium.

So, it is not possible to totally replace the traditional classrooms by virtual ones in the field of dentistry in which personal monitoring and clinical postings are unavoidable. This viewpoint is in agreement with other studies that explored the perception of teachers on online teaching.[10],[11] Online lecture alone may not be sufficient in today’s scenario and hence we have to move on to the development of more engaging and innovative teaching–learning methods based on principles of adult learning.[12] A learner-centered education approach with forums for clearing queries, productive conceptualization, and interdepartmental coordination should be ensured in virtual classrooms for the benefit of the students.[11],[13],[14]


  Conclusion Top


Acceptable levels of e-learning experience were revealed by the study participants. In the Indian context, as a developing country, good network and internet coverage has to be ensured for students for the successful implementation of online education. Additional financial burden that the students and parents have to shoulder in terms of purchase of devices and utility of internet too is an important challenge. E-learning can be adopted as an adjunct to traditional classroom learning after the prevailing pandemic.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
Strielkowski W How can the COVID-19 pandemic help higher education? https://www.researchgate.net/publication/340579000_How_can_the_COVID-19_pandemic_help_higher_education [Last accessed on 2020 Oct 15].  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Dwivedi D, Kaur N, Shukla S, Gandhi A, Tripathi S Perception of stress among medical undergraduate during coronavirus disease-19 pandemic on exposure to online teaching. Natl J Physiol Pharm Pharmacol 2020;10:1.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
George PP, Papachristou N, Belisario JM, Wang W, Wark PA, Cotic Z, et al. Online elearning for undergraduates in health professions: A systematic review of the impact on knowledge, skills, attitudes and satisfaction. J Glob Health 2014;4:010406.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Gormley GJ, Collins K, Boohan M, Bickle IC, Stevenson M Is there a place for e-learning in clinical skills? A survey of undergraduate medical students’ experiences and attitudes. Med Teach 2009;31:e6-12.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Paechter M, Maier B, Macher D Students’ expectations of, and experiences in e-learning: Their relation to learning achievements and course satisfaction. Comput Educ 2010;54:222-9.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Santos GNM, Leite AF, Figueiredo PTS, Pimentel NM, Flores-Mir C, de Melo NS, Guerra ENS, Luca Canto GD Effectiveness of e-learning in oral radiology education: A systematic review. J Dent Educ 2016;80:1126-39  Back to cited text no. 6
    
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Sarsar F, Kaval ME, Klasser GD, Güneri P Impact of internet supported dental education: Initial outcomes in a study sample. J Hum Sci 2016;13:4986-97.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
Thomas A, Shenoy MT, Shenoy KT, Suresh Kumar S, Sidheeque A, Khovidh C, et al. Survey among medical students during COVID-19 lockdown: The online class dilemma. Int J Med Students 2020;8:102-6.   Back to cited text no. 8
    
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Turkyilmaz I, Hariri NH, Jahangiri L Student’s perception of the impact of E-learning on dental education. J Contemp Dent Pr2019;20:616-21.  Back to cited text no. 9
    
10.
Arora AK, Srinivasan R Impact of pandemic covid-19 on the teaching – learning process: A study of higher education teachers. Prabandhan Indian J Manag 2020;13:43-56.  Back to cited text no. 10
    
11.
Bhargava S Online classes for medical students during COVID-19 pandemic: Through the eyes of the teaching faculty. J Res Med Dent Sci 2020;8:189-92.   Back to cited text no. 11
    
12.
Carracedo G, Pintor J Ready for action. J Optom 2016;9:137-8.  Back to cited text no. 12
    
13.
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. 13
    
14.
Chatterjee S The COVID-19 pandemic through the lens of a medical student in India. Int J Med Stud 2020;8:82-3.  Back to cited text no. 14
    


    Figures

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    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3]



 

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