Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Prosthodontics, ESIC Dental College and Hospital, New Delhi, India

2 Department of Cardiovascular and Respiratory Sciences, PES Modern College of Physiotherapy, Pune, Maharashtra, India

3 Community and Family Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India

4 College of Nursing, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India


BACKGROUND: The outbreak of COVID‑19 pandemic has led to a paradigm shift from the
traditional classroom setting to online education and webinars. We could not identify any published
multidisciplinary studies from Indian institutions that have explored the perception of online learning
among health sciences students from different faculties.The study aimed to explore the perception
of health sciences students regarding their experience, satisfaction, and challenges with online
learning compared to offline learning.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: An explanatory sequential (QUAN–qual) mixed‑methods study was
conducted between November 2020 and June 2021 among 474 medical, nursing, physiotherapy, and
dental students attending online classes. All the students were invited to participate in the study using
Google Form questionnaire. Quantitative data was analyzed using MS Excel. For qualitative data,
focused group interviews were conducted with a group of six to eight students from each discipline
on an online platform for 45 min to 1 h and transcripts were thematically analyzed.
RESULTS: Totally 474 students responded to the survey questionnaire. Nearly 56.3% (267) of the
students were not satisfied with the online learning program. Around 62.2% (294) of the students
felt that online learning could not retain their interest. Students reported that learning the assigned
syllabus was difficult during online lectures. They agreed that online learning could be distracting,
time‑consuming, and did not provide an adequate pace of learning.
CONCLUSION: Though online learning is an effective learning strategy, it needs to be further
improved considering the valuable inputs given by students.


1. O’Malley J, McCraw H. Students perceptions of distance learning,
online learning, and the traditional classroom. Online J Dist Learn
Admin 1999;2:1‑10.
2. Mishra L, Gupta T, Shree A. Online teaching‑learning in higher
education during lockdown period of COVID‑19 pandemic. Int
J Educ Res Open 2020;1:100012.
3. Karaman S. Nurses’ perceptions of online continuing education.
BMC Med Educ 2011;11:86.
4. Warnecke E, Pearson S. Medical students’ perceptions of using
e‑learning to enhance the acquisition of consulting skills.
Australas Med J 2011;4:300‑7.
5. House L, Weldon RN, Wysocki AF.Student perceptions of online
distance education in undergraduate agricultural economic
programs. J Agri Appl Econ 2007;39:275‑84.
6. Reeves S, Fletcher S, McLoughlin C, Yim A, Patel KD.
Interprofessional online learning for primary healthcare: Findings
from a scoping review. BMJ Open 2017;7:e016872.
7. Khalil R, Mansour AE, Fadda WA, Almisnid K, Aldamegh M,
Al‑Nafeesah A, et al. The sudden transition to synchronized
online learning during the covid‑19 pandemic in Saudi Arabia:A qualitative study exploring medical students’ perspectives.
BMC Med Educ 2020;20:285.
8. Dost S, Hossain A, Shehab M, Abdelwahed A, Al‑Nusair L.
Perceptions of medical students towards online teaching during
the COVID‑19 pandemic: A national cross‑sectional survey of
2721 UK medical students. BMJ Open 2020;10:e042378.
9. Wang C, Xie A, Wang W, Wu H. Association between medical
students’prior experiences and perceptions of formal online
education developed in response to COVID‑19: A cross‑sectional
study in China. BMJ Open 2020;10:e041886.
10. Ansar F, Ali W, Khattak A, Naveed H, Zeb S. Undergraduate
students’perception and satisfaction regarding online learning
system amidst COVID‑19 Pandemic in Pakistan. J Ayub Med
Coll Abbottabad 2020;32(Suppl 1):S644‑50.
11. Linjawi AI, Alfadda LS. Students’perception, attitudes, and
readiness toward online learning in dental education in Saudi
Arabia: A cohort study. Adv Med Educ Pract 2018;9:855‑63.
12. Anwar A, Mansoor H, Faisal D, Khan HS. E‑Learning amid
the covid‑19 lockdown: Standpoint of medical and dental
undergraduates. Pak J Med Sci 2021;37:217‑22.
13. Michel A, Ryan N, Mattheus D, Knopf A, Abuelezam NN,
Stamp K, et al. Undergraduate nursing students’perceptions
on nursing education during the 2020 COVID‑19 pandemic:
A national sample. Nurs Outlook 2021;69:903‑12.
14. Rossettini G, Geri T, Turolla A, Viceconti A, Scumà C,
Mirandola M, et al.Online teaching in physiotherapy education
during covid‑19 pandemic in Italy: A retrospective case‑control
study on students’satisfaction and performance. BMC Med Educ
15. Abbasi MS, Ahmed N, Sajjad B, Alshahrani A, Saeed S,
Sarfaraz S, et al. E‑Learning perception and satisfaction among
health sciences students amid the COVID‑19 pandemic. Work
16. Puljak L, Čivljak M, Haramina A, Mališa S,Čavić D, Klinec D,
et al. Attitudes and concerns of undergraduate university health
sciences students in Croatia regarding complete switch to
e‑learning during COVID‑19 pandemic: A survey. BMC Med
Educ 2020;20:416.
17. Ansari KA, Farooqi F, Khan SQ, Alhareky M, C Trinidad MA,
Abidi T, et al. Perception on online teaching and learning among
health sciences students in higher education institutions during
the covid‑19 lockdown‑Ways to improve teaching and learning
in Saudi colleges and universities. F1000Res 2021;10:177.
18. Elshami W, Taha MH, Abuzaid M, Saravanan C, Al Kawas S,
Abdalla ME. Satisfaction with online learning in the new normal:
Perspective of students and faculty at medical and health sciences
colleges. Med Educ Online 2021;26:1920090.
19. Graneheim UH, Lundman B. Qualitative content analysis in
nursing research: Concepts, procedures and measures to achieve
trustworthiness. Nurse Educ Today 2004;24:105‑12.
20. Lincoln YS, Guba EG. Naturalistic Inquiry Newbury Park. Cal.:
Sage; 1985.
21. Adnan M. Online learning amid the covid‑19 pandemic: Students
perspectives. J Pedagog Res 2020;1:45‑51.
22. Delnoij LE, Dirkx KJ, Janssen JP, Martens RL. Predicting and
resolving non‑completion in higher (online) education – A
literature review. Educat Res Rev 2020;29:100313.
23. Boling EC, Hough M, Krinsky H, Saleem H, Stevens M. Cutting
the distance in distance education: Perspectives on what
promotes positive, online learning experiences. Inter High Educ
24. Paechter M, Maier B. Online or face‑to‑face? Students’ experiences
and preferences in e‑learning. Internet High Educ 2010;13:292‑7.
25. Ifediora CO. Online medical education for doctors: Identifying
potential gaps to the traditional, face‑to‑face modality. J Med Educ
Curric Dev 2019;6:1‑8.
26. Dolan E, Hancock E, Wareing A. An evaluation of online learning
to teach practical competencies in undergraduate health science
students. Int High Educ 2015;24:21‑5.
27. Holly C.The case for distance education in nursing. MERLOT
JOnline LearnTeach2009;5:506‑10.
28. Derwin, E. Critical thinking in online vs. face‑to‑face higher
education. Media Psychol Rev 2009;2.
29. Kwary DA, Fauzie S. Students’achievement and opinions on
the implementation of e‑learning for phonetics and phonology
lectures at Airlangga University. Educ E Pesqui 2018;1‑16
30. Mukhtar K, Javed K, Arooj M, Sethi A. Advantages, limitations
and recommendations for online learning during covid‑19
pandemic era. Pak J Med Sci 2020;36:S27‑31.
31. Govindasamy T. Successful implementation of e‑Learning:
Pedagogical considerations. Int High Educ 2001;4:287‑99.
32. Blas TM, Fernandez AS. The role of new technologies in the
learning process: Moodle as a teaching tool in Physics. Comput
Educ 2009;52:35‑44.
33. Attardi SM, Rogers KA. Design and implementation of an online
systemic human anatomy course with laboratory. Anat Sci Educ
34. Dyrbye L, Cumyn A, Day H, Heflin M. A qualitative study of
physicians’ experiences with online learning in a master’s degree
program: Benefits, challenges, and proposed solutions. Med Teach
35. Docherty A, Sandhu H. Student‑perceived barriers and facilitators
to e‑learning in continuing professional development in primary
care. Educ Prim Care 2006;17:343‑53.
36. Gagnon M, Legare F, Labrecque M, Frémont P, Cauchon M,
Desmartis M.Perceived barriers to completing an e‑learning
program on evidence‑based medicine. Inform Prim Care
37. Gensichen J, Vollmar HC, Sönnichsen A, Waldmann U, Sandars J.
E‑learning for education in primary healthcare‑‑turning the hype
into reality: A Delphi study. Eur J Gen Pract 2009;15:11‑4.
38. Hammarlund CS, Nilsson MH, Gummesson C. External and
internal factors influencing self‑directed online learning of
physiotherapy undergraduate students in Sweden: A qualitative
study. J Educ Eval Health Prof 2015;12:33.
39. Ikram UZ, Essink‑Bot M, Suumond J. How we developed an
effective e‑learning module for medical students on using
professional interpreters. Med Teach 2015;37:422‑7.
40. Kokol P, Blazun H, Micetić‑Turk D, Abbott PA. E‑Learning in
nursing education‑‑challenges and opportunities. Stud Health
Technol Inform 2006;122:387‑90.