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      Transitioning to E-Learning during the COVID-19 pandemic: How have Higher Education Institutions responded to the challenge?

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          Abstract

          Lockdowns, social distancing, and COVID safe hygiene practices have rendered the usual face-to-face course delivery options all but impossible for many higher education institutions worldwide. A forced transition to online learning has been the only viable option for preventing a wholesale closure of many institutions. The aim of this study is to identify the role of educational technologies in the transition from face-to-face to online teaching and learning activities during the COVID-19 pandemic. This paper identified five challenges to transitioning to online education experienced by higher education institutions: synchronous/asynchronous learning tool integration, access to technology, faculty and student online competence, academic dishonesty, and privacy and confidentiality. From the studies examined in this literature review, strategies for successful online implementation were also noted. These included: providing e-learning training support for faculty and students, fostering online learning communities, and expanding traditional face-to-face course delivery to incorporate more elements of blended learning. A Technology Enhanced Learning Hub that encapsulates the learning process within a modality-neutral learning space is presented as a suggested framework for delivering higher education programs in this challenging environment.

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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

            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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              Distance learning in clinical medical education amid COVID-19 pandemic in Jordan: current situation, challenges, and perspectives

              Background As COVID-19 has been declared as a pandemic disease by the WHO on March 11th, 2020, the global incidence of COVID-19 disease increased dramatically. In response to the COVID-19 situation, Jordan announced the emergency state on the 19th of March, followed by the curfew on 21 March. All educational institutions have been closed as well as educational activities including clinical medical education have been suspended on the 15th of March. As a result, Distance E-learning emerged as a new method of teaching to maintain the continuity of medical education during the COVID-19 pandemic related closure of educational institutions. Distance E-Learning is defined as using computer technology to deliver training, including technology-supported learning either online, offline, or both. Before this period, distance learning was not considered in Jordanian universities as a modality for education. This study aims to explore the situation of distance E-learning among medical students during their clinical years and to identify possible challenges, limitations, satisfaction as well as perspectives for this approach to learning. Methods This cross-sectional study is based on a questionnaire that was designed and delivered to medical students in their clinical years. For this study, the estimated sample size (n = 588) is derived from the online Raosoft sample size calculator. Results A total of 652 students have completed the questionnaire, among them, 538 students (82.5%) have participated in distance learning in their medical schools amid COVID-19 pandemic. The overall satisfaction rate in medical distance learning was 26.8%, and it was significantly higher in students with previous experience in distance learning in their medical schools as well as when instructors were actively participating in learning sessions, using multimedia and devoting adequate time for their sessions. The delivery of educational material using synchronous live streaming sessions represented the major modality of teaching and Internet streaming quality and coverage was the main challenge that was reported by 69.1% of students. Conclusion With advances in technologies and social media, distance learning is a new and rapidly growing approach for undergraduate, postgraduate, and health care providers. It may represent an optimal solution to maintain learning processes in exceptional and emergency situations such as COVID-19 pandemic. Technical and infrastructural resources reported as a major challenge for implementing distance learning, so understanding technological, financial, institutional, educators, and student barriers are essential for the successful implementation of distance learning in medical education.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                d.turnbull@cqu.edu.au
                r.chugh@cqu.edu.au
                j.luck@cqu.edu.au
                Journal
                Educ Inf Technol (Dordr)
                Educ Inf Technol (Dordr)
                Education and Information Technologies
                Springer US (New York )
                1360-2357
                1573-7608
                23 June 2021
                : 1-19
                Affiliations
                GRID grid.1023.0, ISNI 0000 0001 2193 0854, Central Queensland University, ; 16 Bruce Highway, North Rockhampton, QLD 4702 Australia
                Author information
                http://orcid.org/0000-0003-0509-8564
                http://orcid.org/0000-0003-0061-7206
                http://orcid.org/0000-0002-5478-7289
                Article
                10633
                10.1007/s10639-021-10633-w
                8220880
                34177349
                ae6a5912-091f-4035-95b9-0b58b22ae377
                © The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2021

                This article is made available via the PMC Open Access Subset for unrestricted research re-use and secondary analysis in any form or by any means with acknowledgement of the original source. These permissions are granted for the duration of the World Health Organization (WHO) declaration of COVID-19 as a global pandemic.

                History
                : 31 May 2021
                : 9 June 2021
                Categories
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                covid-19,educational technology,transition,e-learning,literature review,online learning

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