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Conduct of online classes for medical curriculum during the COVID-19 lockdown: Our first-hand experience

 Department of Microbiology, Dr. D. Y. Patil Medical College Hospital and Research Centre, Dr. D. Y. Patil Vidyapeeth, Pune, Maharashtra, India

Date of Submission11-Aug-2020
Date of Decision14-Apr-2021
Date of Acceptance19-Apr-2021

Correspondence Address:
Shahzad Mirza,
Dr. D. Y. Patil Medical College Hospital and Research Centre, Dr. D. Y. Patil Vidyapeeth, Pimpri, Pune - 411 018, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2589-8302.337617

How to cite this URL:
Das NK, Mirza S, Patil RA, Misra RN. Conduct of online classes for medical curriculum during the COVID-19 lockdown: Our first-hand experience. Med J DY Patil Vidyapeeth [Epub ahead of print] [cited 2023 Mar 20]. Available from: https://www.mjdrdypv.org/preprintarticle.asp?id=337617

Dear Sir,

Due to unforeseen pandemic of COVID-19, the whole world has literally shut down.[1] To avoid the spread of the disease, social distancing between the public plays a key role and is advised by the government. This has resulted in shutting down of all schools and educational institutions across India. The same is also applicable to the medical curriculum for undergraduate medical students. The medical curriculum is vast, evidence-based and unlike any other professional course, the training usually has a lot with practical material, clinical posting, patient interaction, discussion with peers, and faculties. Unfortunately, all theses are not even remotely possible due to government guidelines and restrictions in place. A solution was urgently needed, so that the students do not miss out on the curriculum and also for smooth conduct of examinations. Start of some structured classes was also necessary for the confidence of the students as any delay may have impact on their formative skills.

The medical curriculum is still in the stage of infancy as regards to e-learning, online teaching material, platform, and competency of faculty and students.[2] Before this pandemic, virtually no or very few teaching and conduct of examination were actually done on online platform. There is very less uniformity in the conduct of lectures on online platforms across the medical colleges in India.[3] Some advantages of e-learning are that it ensures remote learning, reduced travel expenses, and asynchronous learning at any time, and student can become self-directed learners. Limitation is of resources, student understanding, limited attention span of students, student nuisance, and increased screen time can be important challenges which can be there in online classrooms.[4],[5]

We are teaching faculty of a paramedical participant working in a reputed medical college in Pune, Maharashtra. This sudden closure of the college came as a big challenge for us regarding the conduct of the course in the stipulated time. We already have an effective online system for smooth dissipation of information in the form of campus Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). Through this, a faculty can upload his/her original PowerPoint presentations, images, video links, or other teaching material. The student can access all these information in a remote setting. The campus ERP system enabled the department to conduct and correct objective and subjective type of examinations. Apart from that, we ventured out for other options in the digital platform for smooth conduct of lectures and also to ensure active participation from students. The university has also invested in various online platforms for smooth conduct of classes. The platforms that we tried for lectures and practical are Google Meet and Zoom. The electronic platform also comes with its own set of challenges which we faced on day-to-day basis. But gradually, they were ironed out. The college administration had workshops and webinars regarding e-learning from time to time. The lectures can also be recorded which can be used later on for quality control and improvement. Self-assessment of the students was also done in Google forms.

Sir, having a good electricity backup and internet connection is also a very key prerequisite condition for having a smooth online teaching platform from both the provider and user perspective. As not all students have an urban background, some of them had faced problems in submitting answer papers in the examinations. A departmental E-mail ID, a WhatsApp chat with the contact person in the department is a very important for the smooth passage of messages and for the address of any grievance.

Sir, we are yet to assess the actual effectiveness of online teaching on students and how it is actually different from the traditional modes of teaching. Maybe sooner than later, we will have different tools and reliable tests which will help us in finding the same. For the time being, this is the best solution we have got and in the future, its highly likely that e-learning will become complimentary to traditional modes of teaching in medical curriculum.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Abedi M, Abedi D. A letter to the editor: The impact of COVID-19 on intercalating and non-clinical medical students in the UK. Med Educ Online 2020;25:1771245.  Back to cited text no. 1
Sahi PK, Mishra D, Singh T. Medical Education Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic. Indian Pediatr 2020;57:652-7.  Back to cited text no. 2
Pattanshett VM, Pattanshetti SV. The impact of COVID-19 on medical education in India. J Sci Soc 2020;47:1-2.  Back to cited text no. 3
Mukhtar K, Javed K, Arooj M, Sethi A. Pak J of Med Sci 2020;36:S27-31.  Back to cited text no. 4
Bradbury NA. Attention span during lectures: 8 seconds, 10 minutes, or more? Adv Physiol Educ 2016;40:509-13.  Back to cited text no. 5


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