What is it about?

The COVID-19 pandemic forced humans to isolate from each other. This social distancing was meant to control disease spread. But it has also brought about a rapid change in learning and education. It has forced a shift from classroom learning to remote learning. In this study, scientists looked at how effective online learning is, whether it affects the learning outcomes of students, and whether online education presents students with specific challenges. They did a survey of people studying for a degree in Veterinary Medicine. The students' answers were interesting. They believed that online learning was no more difficult than being taught in a classroom. They could achieve their objectives just as well with online learning. In fact, this mode of education helped them save time! How? Students could now use their travel time more productively. Which features of online education did students find particularly appealing? These included recorded lectures, online polls, quizzes, and chat boxes. These features made students feel prioritized. The students had some concerns too. They expressed worries about fewer personal encounters, a loss of the classroom environment, and fewer chances to interact with other students. Some students mentioned technical problems and others were concerned about the lack of practical classes.

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Why is it important?

A study like this helps us learn how we can improve online education in future. The scientists who carried out the survey had recommendations, including: • Implement more ways to increase peer interactions • Allow flexible time management • Use approaches such as flipped classrooms (in which students are engaged in problem-solving during class time and asked to complete their reading at home) KEY TAKEAWAY: The COVID-19 pandemic is still unfolding. So, institutions should ensure that the students are able to adapt to their new teaching methods using online platforms.

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This page is a summary of: Interaction Identified as both a Challenge and a Benefit in a Rapid Switch to Online Teaching during the COVID-19 Pandemic, Journal of Veterinary Medical Education, December 2021, University of Toronto Press (UTPress), DOI: 10.3138/jvme-2020-0063.
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