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      The sudden transition to synchronized online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic in Saudi Arabia: a qualitative study exploring medical students’ perspectives

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          Abstract

          Background

          The closure of educational activities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic resulted in an unplanned shift from traditional learning to a setup that exclusively involves digital teaching and learning. Within this context, the present study aimed to explore undergraduate medical students’ perceptions regarding the effectiveness of synchronized online learning at Unaizah College of Medicine and Medical Sciences, Qassim University, Saudi Arabia.

          Methods

          A qualitative study was conducted using virtual focus group discussions synchronously with the help of a discussion guide consisting of seven open-ended questions. Overall, 60 medical students were recruited using a maximum variation sampling technique; these students then participated in eight focus group discussions. All interviews were recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed for thematic contents using the standard (Mayring, Kiger. M. E. and Braun.V) content analysis framework.

          Results

          A thematic content analysis yielded four core themes: (1) educational impact, (2) time management, (3) challenges encountered, and (4) preferences for the future. The online modality was well-received, and all participants agreed that online sessions were time saving and that their performance was improved due to enhanced utility of time; however, they indicated that they encountered some challenges, including methodological, content perception, technical, and behavioral challenges during sessions and online exams. Most of the preclinical students preferred online learning for the upcoming academic years.

          Conclusion

          Synchronized online classes were well-accepted by the medical students. This represents significant and promising potential for the future of medical education. The principles of the online learning model and learning outcomes should be rigorously and regularly evaluated to monitor its effectiveness.

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          Most cited references33

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          New Benchmarks in Higher Education: Student Engagement in Online Learning

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            Computer assisted learning in undergraduate medical education.

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              Online focus groups as a tool to collect data in hard-to-include populations: examples from paediatric oncology

              Background The purpose of this article is to describe and evaluate the methodology of online focus group discussions within the setting of paediatric oncology. Methods Qualitative study consisting of separate moderated asynchronous online discussion groups with 7 paediatric cancer patients (aged 8–17), 11 parents, and 18 survivors of childhood cancer (aged 8–17 at diagnosis). Results All three participant groups could be actively engaged over a one-week period. Respondents highly valued the flexibility and convenience of logging in at their own time and place to join the discussion. Adolescent patients and survivors emphasized that the anonymity experienced made them feel comfortable to express their views in detail. The findings indicate a strong preference for online group discussions across all participant groups. Conclusion The findings show that online focus group methodology is a feasible tool for collecting qualitative data within the setting of paediatric oncology, and may offer new opportunities to collect data in other hard-to-include populations. The evaluations seem to indicate that the online group discussions have given participants an opportunity to articulate their experiences and views in a way they might not have done in a traditional group discussion.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                rehana.noman@ucm.edu.sa
                ali.mansour@ucm.edu.sa
                walaa.fadda@ucm.edu.sa
                khaled.almisnid@ucm.edu.sa
                mohammed.aldamegh@ucm.edu.sa
                abdullah.alnafeesah@ucm.edu.sa
                azzam.alkhalifah@ucm.edu.sa
                Osama.alwutayd@gmail.com
                Journal
                BMC Med Educ
                BMC Med Educ
                BMC Medical Education
                BioMed Central (London )
                1472-6920
                28 August 2020
                28 August 2020
                2020
                : 20
                : 285
                Affiliations
                [1 ]GRID grid.412602.3, ISNI 0000 0000 9421 8094, Department of Family and Community Medicine, , Unaizah College of Medicine and Medical Sciences, Qassim University, ; Unaizah, Saudi Arabia
                [2 ]GRID grid.412602.3, ISNI 0000 0000 9421 8094, Department of Basic Medical Sciences, , Unaizah College of Medicine and Medical Sciences, Qassim University, ; Unaizah, Saudi Arabia
                [3 ]GRID grid.412602.3, ISNI 0000 0000 9421 8094, Department of Radiology, , Unaizah College of Medicine and Medical Sciences, Qassim University, ; Unaizah, Saudi Arabia
                [4 ]GRID grid.412602.3, ISNI 0000 0000 9421 8094, Department of Pediatrics, , Unaizah College of Medicine and Medical Sciences, Qassim University, ; Unaizah, Saudi Arabia
                [5 ]GRID grid.412602.3, ISNI 0000 0000 9421 8094, Department of Medicine, , Unaizah College of Medicine and Medical Sciences, Qassim University, ; Unaizah, Saudi Arabia
                Author information
                http://orcid.org/0000-0001-6029-9663
                Article
                2208
                10.1186/s12909-020-02208-z
                7453686
                32859188
                590c9aa0-ddc3-4f88-bb12-a5152dd6a5a0
                © The Author(s) 2020

                Open AccessThis article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.

                History
                : 23 June 2020
                : 25 August 2020
                Categories
                Research Article
                Custom metadata
                © The Author(s) 2020

                Education
                sudden transition,online learning,covid-19 pandemic,saudi arabia,qualitative study,medical students,perspective

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