Barriers to online learning in the time of COVID-19: A national survey of medical students in the Philippines
Ronnie E Baticulon,
Nicole Rose I Alberto,
Maria Beatriz C Baron,
Robert Earl C Mabulay,
Lloyd Gabriel T Rizada,
Jinno Jenkin Sy,
Christl Jan S Tiu,
Charlie A Clarion,
John Carlo B Reyes
Posted 18 Jul 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.07.16.20155747
Posted 18 Jul 2020
INTRODUCTION: In March 2020, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic forced medical schools in the Philippines to stop face-to-face learning activities and abruptly shift to an online curriculum. This study aimed to identify barriers to online learning from the perspective of medical students in a developing country. METHOD: The authors sent out an electronic survey to medical students in the Philippines from 11 to 24 May 2020. Using a combination of multiple choice, Likert scale, and open-ended questions, the following data were obtained: demographics, medical school information, access to technological resources, study habits, living conditions, self-assessment of capacity for and perceived barriers to online learning, and proposed interventions. Descriptive statistics were calculated. Responses were compared between student subgroups using nonparametric tests. RESULTS: Among 3,670 medical students, 3,421 (93%) owned a smartphone and 3,043 (83%) had a laptop or desktop computer. To access online resources, 2,916 (79%) had a postpaid internet subscription while 696 (19%) used prepaid mobile data. Under prevailing conditions, only 1,505 students (41%) considered themselves physically and mentally capable of engaging in online learning. Barriers were classified under five categories: technological, individual, domestic, institutional, and community barriers. Most frequently encountered were difficulty adjusting learning styles, having to perform responsibilities at home, and poor communication between educators and learners. CONCLUSION: Medical students in the Philippines confronted several interrelated barriers as they tried to adapt to online learning. By implementing student-centered interventions, medical schools and educators play a significant role in addressing these challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
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