Rapid transition to distance learning due to COVID-19: Perceptions of postgraduate dental learners and instructors
Rad, Fatemeh Amir
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Abstract: The outbreak of Coronavirus disease 2019(COVID-19) necessitated an abrupt transition from on campus, face-to-face sessions to online, distance learning in higher education institutions. The purpose of this study was to investigate the perceptions of postgraduate dental learners and instructors about the transition to distance learning, including the changes to the learning and teaching and its efficaciousness. A convergent mixed methods approach to research was utilized. All the instructors and postgraduate learners in a dental college were invited to participate in an online survey. Quantitative data was analyzed using descriptive and inferential analyses on SPSS for Windows version 25.0, and for the responses to the open-ended questions, multi-staged thematic analysis was utilized. Both groups of stakeholders: learners and instructors, were satisfied with the rapid transition to distance learning due to COVID-19. Instructors were significantly more satisfied than the learners. The stakeholders adapted well to the change. The perception of the stakeholders regarding the casebased scenarios significantly influenced their level of satisfaction. As perceived by the stakeholders, the transition to distance learning entailed advantages and challenges. Going through the experience enabled the stakeholders to develop informed opinions of how best to sustain learning and teaching irrespective of how matters unfold in relation to the pandemic. In conclusion, the worldwide dental education community faced unprecedented challenges due to the onset of COVID-19. From a macro perspective, decision-makers must not miss out on the valuable opportunities, inherent in the experience, to reinforce curriculums, and maximize learning and teaching.