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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 61-64

Online dental education during coronavirus pandemic-challenges and future ahead: An observational study

Department of Periodontics, Institute of Dental Sciences, Jammu, Jammu and Kashmir, India

Date of Submission26-Jul-2020
Date of Acceptance25-Sep-2020
Date of Web Publication08-Apr-2021

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Malvika Singh
Department of Periodontics, Institute of Dental Sciences, Sehora, Jammu, Jammu and Kashmir
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/bjhs.bjhs_71_20

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CONTEXT: The spread of coronavirus infection and its declaration of pandemic by the World Health Organization took us all by surprise and left us unprepared. Sudden lockdown declared by the Government of India confined the studies to be taken up through online mode.
AIMS: The aim of this study was to assess the problems faced by the students and faculty members while conducting online lectures during pandemic.
SETTINGS AND DESIGN: The study was conducted in our institute.
SUBJECTS AND METHODS: A total of 336 students and 52 faculty members enrolled in various professional years of Bachelors of Dental Surgery were selected for the study.
STATISTICAL ANALYSIS USED: Standard deviation, mean, and mode.
RESULTS: Majority of students and faculty members suffered from various forms of connectivity issues while their other issues were completely different.
CONCLUSIONS: Both students and faculty members suffered from different issues but minimizing these issues though cooperation and seemed to be a way out for online mode of teaching during coronavirus times.

Keywords: Coronavirus pandemic, faculties, future, online education, problems, students

How to cite this article:
Singh M. Online dental education during coronavirus pandemic-challenges and future ahead: An observational study. BLDE Univ J Health Sci 2021;6:61-4

How to cite this URL:
Singh M. Online dental education during coronavirus pandemic-challenges and future ahead: An observational study. BLDE Univ J Health Sci [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Dec 9];6:61-4. Available from: https://www.bldeujournalhs.in/text.asp?2021/6/1/61/313365

Coronavirus infection or COVID-19 was declared as a pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11, 2020.[1] In India also, with rising cases of coronavirus infection, the Government of India imposed strict lockdown in the country from March 24, 2020[2] due to which all the educational institutes, including dental colleges, were closed with immediate effect. Although this step was well appreciated by students, parents as well as faculty members of the dental colleges, but it raised concerns about the uncertainty of the future of students perusing professional courses. In the age of the digital world, where all of us are connected to each other via Internet, the Dental Council of India took a historic step by directing all the dental colleges to begin online lectures for students perusing Bachelors of Dental Surgery.[3] This step brought respite to the hanging future of students; however, this online mode of education presented itself with different issues and challenges among the academic fraternity, in particular the faculty members. This article deals with various issues faced by students as well as faculty members during the online mode of teaching. It also hopes to address the future of online dental education in India.

  Subjects and Methods Top

Students enrolled in various professional years for the course of Bachelors of Dental Surgery as well as faculty members our institute, were selected for the study. The study design was explained to all participants, and informed consent was taken from them before the beginning of the study. All of them were asked about the mode of device by which they deliver/attend lectures. They were also asked about the issues faced while delivering/attending lectures. The data were collected, calculated using standard deviation, mean, and mode and compiled in tabulated form and described graphically.

  Results Top

A total of 336 students and 52 faculty members of our institute belonging to the age group of 15–25 years (mean age 20 years ± 6 months) and 27–60 (mean age 43 ± 5 months), respectively, participated in the study. Out of 336 students, 107 were male and 229 were female [Table 1], [Graph 1] and [Graph 2]. All of the students were enrolled in different professional years for the course of Bachelors of Dental Surgery and when their demographic background was taken into consideration, 14.29% belonged to rural areas whereas 85.71% belonged to urban areas [Table 1]. Conversely, 9.61% faculty members belonged to rural areas and 90.39% belonged to urban areas. When asked about the mode of attending online lectures, majority (61.01%) students attended the same using smartphones, followed by laptops (26.49%) via tablet (08.04%) via personal computer (04.47%). However, most (73.58%) faculty members delivered online lectures via laptops followed by (13.21%) via smartphones, (09.43%) via tablets and (03.78%) via personal computer [Table 2] and [Graph 2]. Regarding issues faced by students while about attending online lectures, most of the students faced (39.03%) with competitivity issues. While most (28.30%) of the faculty members also had connectivity related issues at their end [Table 3] and [Table 4], [Graph 3] and [Graph 4].
Table 1: Sociodemographic characteristics of participants

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Table 2: Distribution of audio-video connectivity devices among students and faculty

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Table 3: Issues faced by students

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Table 4: Issues faced by faculty

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  Discussion Top

The sudden onset of coronavirus pandemic, forced both faculties and students to switch the mode of teaching from physical lecture theaters to virtual/online mode, which perhaps all were unprepared for. As with any new technology, this new mode of teaching and learning took some time to get accustomed both for faculties as well as students.

Due to the security issues in our area rightly so, the mobile internet connectivity sometimes becomes bad, thus making students living in rural areas sometimes facing connectivity issues while attending the lectures, which did not matter much for students and faculty members living in urban areas as high-speed broadband services are available throughout the union territory in urban areas. For this reason, the only 3 lectures beginning from 11:00 am and each having interval of 0.5 h was kept in between two subsequent lectures. About 39.03% of the students faced with connectivity issues at their end. While 19.94% of students had delayed or sometimes interrupted audio and video signals from faculty members. To avoid this, all students were instructed to turn off their videos, keeping their audio signals on so that their doubts can be answered by faculty members at that very moment.

Not all of us are tech savvy's and dental students are no exceptions to it, 13.40% of students were unfamiliar with the online lecture program, and this could be attributed to the sudden spread of coronavirus infection, leaving us all unprepared. To facilitate this, before the commencement of online classes, a foundation course was conducted by faculties teaching them how to use and go about this platform.

About 11.31% of students felt the duration of online lectures was less; however, the faculty members could not help students with this as all free online platforms allow the duration of an audio-video session to a maximum of 30 min but faculty members tried their best to teach their topics as slowly as possible for the better understanding of their topics to students.

About 05.95% of students found concentration issues as the online mode of teaching can never replace the environment of physical lecture theatres, to help the students with concentration issues, the were advised to attend lectures in a closed room or isolated areas where they could concentrate better.

About 05.36% of students had difficulty in understanding topics and they were advised to contact faculty members in cases of any doubts whatsoever. 04.77% of students had difficulty in clinical correlation of the topics taught, for this reason various videos were sent as referral materials after online sessions.

When addressing the issues faced by faculty members, 28.30% of faculty members also faced with connectivity issues from students end which interrupted their lecture delivering abilities, but for the sake of their students, they preferred to be patients with the same. 24.53% of the faculty members found it difficult to provide simultaneous attention to each and every student as the same becomes almost impossible while delivering the lecture. About 20.75% of faculty members were not able to understand if the topic was understood by the students as judging the same from faces as in physical lecture theaters was not possible in this mode of teaching. About 9.43% of faculty members also felt time to delivered lecture was less but were helpless here to attributing to the policies of online teaching platforms. 7.55% faculty members were also not well versed with the digital mode of teaching, facilitate this, prelecture session was conducted by online experts for faculty members to make them understand this new mode of teaching. Since dentistry involves the clinical application of theoretical topics and students are made to learn the same on patients, 5.67% of the faculty members felt clinical applications of lecture topics was not possible were, however, students were given links of various video channels to have an idea about the topic they were reading so that same could be applied clinically when the colleges open.

About 3.77% of faculty members could not ascertain if students were physically present in online lectures, as some incidences were reported by parents where students started lectures and went away from their rooms. However, that was left on the moral values and seriousness of the students toward their profession.

  Conclusions Top

The spread of coronavirus infection took all of us by surprise, confining us to our homes and has been testing times since then. However, as Charles Darwin, in his theory of natural selection, famously quoted the term Survival of fittest,[4] we all adapted ourselves well to the online mode of delivering and attending lectures. However, we all had initial hiccups and still sometimes having the same, but we all are learning while cooperating with each other as much as possible. To facilitate a smooth sail, routine online meets are conducted among faculty members of each department and their respective BDS professional years so that problems faced by students are taken care and addresses immediately. They are encouraged to constructively channelize their energies in reading and viewing more videos about their profession. Furthermore, routine online meets are held between faculty members where they address the problems faced by them and students and means and ways are found to minimize the same. Even though this pandemic has created physical distances among faculty members and students and for a while, we have to live with this, but communication only seems to be a key in the smooth conducting of online lectures.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

World Health Organization. Report of the WHO-China Joint Mission on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Available from: https://www.who.int/docs/default-so urce/coronaviruse/who-china-joint missiononcovid51finalreport.pdf. [Last accessed on 2020 Jul 22].  Back to cited text no. 1
Government of India issues Orders prescribing lockdown for containment of COVID-19 Epidemic in the country. Available from: https://pib.gov.in/PressReleaseIframePage.aspx?PRID=1607997. [Last accessed on 2020 Jul 12].  Back to cited text no. 2
Dental Council of India.COVID-19 Advisory: COVID-19 Guidelines for Dental Colleges, Dental Students and Dental Professionals. Available from: http://dciindia.gov.in/Admin/NewsArchives/DCI%20Guidelines%20on%20COVID-19.pdf. [Last accessed on 2020 Jul 22].  Back to cited text no. 3
Darwin C, Wallace A. On the tendency of species to form varieties; and on the perpetuation of varieties and species by natural means of selection. J Proc Linn Soc Lond, Zool 1858;3:45-62.  Back to cited text no. 4


  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4]


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