Keywords: Distance-based education Medical student COVID-19 pandemic Slovenia Qualitative study
Online education is universally accepted as a cost-effective and time-efficient alternative to traditional education. It is a teaching approach made possible by the development of information and communication technology. However, such an approach entails a number of structural and procedural changes that follow implementation. Changes are often implemented slowly, and things often do not go smoothly, as experts in education theory point out.
The aim of this study is to examine experiences of medical students about distance-based education in the period of multiple lockdowns in 2020/2021. We used focused interviews to collect data. The questionnaire was developed in the following manner: the first set of questions was developed after studying the literature from Slovenia and abroad about distance-based education in higher education during COVID-19 lockdowns. The researchers then discussed this set to narrow the topics. In addition to preformulated questions, additional sub-questions also typical for focused interviews were asked as part of the research. We carried out a qualitative study using a qualitative content analysis method to analyze the data.
Sixteen interviews were conducted. We defined four categories summarizing students’ experiences with distance-based education during the COVID-19 pandemic: 1) technical issues, 2) organization of distance-based education, 3) social exclusion of students, and 4) suggestions for improvement. The categories are exclusive and represent individual topics for further analysis of students’ experiences with DBE during the COVID-19 pandemic. The results are supported by quotes from the interviews.
Slovenian medical students’ experiences with DBE during the COVID-19 pandemic mainly revealed shortcomings in lecturers’ computer literacy. Technical issues significantly marked the transition of Slovenian medical students to DBE during the COVID-19 pandemic. This was especially evident in the lack of objective implementation of practical clinical training that suffered the most during the pandemic.
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