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Table of Contents
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 308-317

Views of faculty members on the use of e-learning in Saudi medical and health colleges during COVID-19 pandemic


1 Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology, College of Applied Medical Sciences, King Saud Bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
2 Department of Dermatology, College of Medicine, Jouf University, Aljouf, Saudi Arabia

Date of Submission01-Jul-2020
Date of Decision10-Jul-2020
Date of Acceptance13-Jul-2020
Date of Web Publication02-Oct-2020

Correspondence Address:
Ahmad A Alanazi
College of Applied Medical Sciences, King Saud Bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, P.O. Box 3660, Riyadh 11481, Mail Code 3129
Saudi Arabia
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/JNSM.JNSM_82_20

Rights and Permissions
  Abstract 


Objective: The significant impact of COVID-19 pandemic may change the future of education. There was an abrupt obligatory transformation into e-learning. This study aimed to examine views of faculty members on the use of e-learning in Saudi medical and health colleges during COVID-19 pandemic, and their preparedness for e-learning in the light of the complete lockdown due to the pandemic. Materials and Methods: A descriptive cross-sectional study design was conducted in two parts. The first part was a pilot study aimed to provide valuable validation of the content of the major questionnaire study. The second part was a full-scale study designed to address the aim. An electronic questionnaire was prepared and distributed to reach a large number of faculties and primarily focused on three sections demographic information, experience with e-learning before and after COVID-19 pandemic, and preparedness for e-learning. Results: A total of 38 and 220 faculty members participated in the pilot and full-scale studies, respectively. The majority of respondents to the main questionnaire were male (73.2%), from Riyadh (42.7%), worked in governmental colleges (96.3%), and had different academic ranking and teaching experiences. Faculty members showed positive attitudes towards the use of e-learning which was tremendously increased post-COVID-19 (91.9%) compared to pre-COVID-19 (45.9%). Most of the participants were enthusiastic (82.3%) about and confident in using e-learning in teaching and learning. Yet, e-learning was not entirely used as a substitute for hands-on skill training and assessment. Conclusions: This study provides stakeholders with valuable standpoints indispensability of e-learning and the positive attitude and proficiency of teaching staff toward it. This urges furthering our institutional e-learning preparedness and engagement through resolving some appeared individual and infrastructural shortcomings. It is an appropriate time for overcoming barriers to e-learning/teaching as an integral teaching modality in medical and health colleges.

Keywords: COVID-19, e-learning, faculty members, health professions, medical education, Saudi Arabia


How to cite this article:
Alanazi AA, Alshaalan ZM. Views of faculty members on the use of e-learning in Saudi medical and health colleges during COVID-19 pandemic. J Nat Sci Med 2020;3:308-17

How to cite this URL:
Alanazi AA, Alshaalan ZM. Views of faculty members on the use of e-learning in Saudi medical and health colleges during COVID-19 pandemic. J Nat Sci Med [serial online] 2020 [cited 2020 Oct 24];3:308-17. Available from: https://www.jnsmonline.org/text.asp?2020/3/4/308/297122




  Introduction Top


Medical and health professions education has gone through many changes during the last four decades and benefited from the speed growth of technology to foster these changes.[1],[2] Such changes mean that health colleges have to adopt new teaching methods that move teaching from a teacher-centered to a more student-centered without jeopardizing the quality of education. Electronic learning/teaching (e-learning/teaching) is one of these methods that uses the Internet and other technologies to educate learners.[3] It is composed of “a set of applications and processes, including computer-based learning, web-based learning, virtual classrooms, and digital collaboration.”[4] The widespread accessibility of the Internet and the ease of browsing resources on the World Wide Web have made significant progress in e-learning since the 1980s.[5] Terms such as distance or remote learning, virtual learning, and online or web-based learning became parts of faculty members' daily life.[6] E-learning has been increasingly used in medical and health professions education worldwide.[1],[7] For example, faculty members were already using technology for flipping the classroom followed by small-group discussions or interactions in colleges, simulations centers, or clinics within the past few years.[8]

Like many countries, Saudi Arabia (SA) has supported universities to change their curricula and adopt informational and instructional technologies as means of curriculum delivery. For instance, in 2006, the Ministry of Education (MOE) of SA has established the National Centre of E-learning and Distance Learning (NCeDL) and the National Communication and Information Technology Plan to implement e-learning in education, particularly in higher education institutions (HEIs).[9],[10] Several other projects to support the realization of that plan have been designed since then, such as Saudi Digital Library, and Jusur, a learning management system (LMS) designed by the NCeDL to manage e-learning process in SA.[9],[10] Still, the transition from traditional face-to-face learning method to e-learning, or blended (hybrid) learning method that combines both face-to-face and e-learning, is not without challenges. Aldraiby reported four types of major obstacles that have faced e-learning in SA: technical obstacles, materials and financial obstacles, organizational and administrative obstacles, and obstacles associated with education community.[11] Therefore, e-learning use varies among medical and health colleges and has a bigger share in teaching basic sciences compared to clinical courses that require hands-on skill training and assessment.[12]

Despite the challenges that face e-learning in medical and health professions education, one of the most important advantages of e-learning is its flexibility in providing learning at any time particularly during times, such as the time of lockdown because of Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic; a highly contagious acute respiratory distress illness that has infected more than 31 million people globally with almost 966,000 deaths so far.[13] COVID-19 pandemic has forced Saudi and worldwide HEIs to shut down and send students home for social distancing as the most effective preventative strategy.[8] This strategy left faculty members with no teaching and assessment options other than the use of e-learning to deliver courses, small-group discussions, examinations, and other learning materials. Countries with deficiencies in e-learning resources and skills could not make the use of the second semester of the academic year.

COVID-19 pandemic is expected to increase the mass move to e-learning, and faculty members are the key in this process of the transition toward e-learning delivery. The number of faculty members in all Saudi HEIs stood around 85,409 with no specific statistics about faculty members in medical/health colleges.[14] Moreover, little is known about those faculties' opinions and skills on e-learning. Their perception about their roles in e-learning need to be examined.[6] This study aims to investigate views of faculty members on the use of e-learning in Saudi medical and health colleges during COVID-19 pandemic, and their preparedness for e-learning in the light of the complete lockdown due to the pandemic. Other than identify faculty demographics, we sought, during this time of COVID-19 pandemic, with e-learning as the solo choice for teaching and learning, to answer two main questions: (a) what was the faculty experience with e-learning as compared to pre-COVID-19? and (b) what was their level of acceptance and preparedness for e-learning?


  Materials and Methods Top


Study design and participants

This cross-sectional descriptive study was approved by Jouf University Institutional Review Board (# 09-08/41). The inclusion criteria comprised all faculty members who were teaching in Saudi medical and health colleges at the time of completing the questionnaire. Faculty members who were abroad on a scholarship or a sabbatical leave were excluded. Written informed consent was obtained from all voluntarily willing participants. Only complete questionnaires were considered.

Questionnaire and procedures

This study was conducted in two parts. The first part was a pilot study aimed to provide valuable content validation for the major questionnaire study. The second part was a full-scale study designed to examine views of faculty members on the use of e-learning in Saudi medical and health colleges during COVID-19 pandemic.

The pilot study

After a review of the literature and a focus group of medical educationists, the need for developing a reliable data collection tool was emphasized. Therefore, a self-administered English questionnaire was developed to document views of medical and health faculty members on the use of e-learning during COVID-19 pandemic in SA [Appendix 1]. The questionnaire's face validity was established by two independent experts. First, the target population and topics with details of information needed to answer the study questions were defined. Then, the expert panel decided on the questions content and developed the questions wording. Any inadequate expressions or concepts were identified and resolved. Justifying the content (whether all the information collected necessary) was confirmed against other questionnaires.[15] The questions' meaningful order and format were established. This questionnaire consisted of three sections: faculty members' demographic information, their experience with e-learning before and after COVID-19, and their acceptance and preparedness for e-learning. The questionnaire included 21 questions of which 20 were close-ended questions and one was open-ended question.



The first section of the questionnaire was constructed in such a way that faculties responded to seven questions related to personal and demographic data, such as gender, age, nationality, city and place of work, academic ranks, and years of experience. The second section collected specifics of the faculty's experience with e-learning before and after COVID-19 pandemic. This section consists of five questions focused on how often faculty members use e-learning, type of the learning management systems (LMSs) or telecommunication applications used for e-learning, and how faculties manage to deliver clinical sessions and practical exams. The third section included nine questions designed to measure faculties' preparedness and acceptance for using e-learning on a five-point Likert scale with a range of answer options that go from strongly agree to strongly disagree.

Later, the informed consent and questionnaire were prepared on Google Forms (Google LLC, Mountain View, California, USA) and pretested in the pilot study comprising of 38 participants, who were E-mailed the link of the questionnaire, and were asked to comment if any question was ambiguous. Before filling in and submitting the questionnaire, the pilot participants had to read and complete the informed consent that included necessary elements, such as the purpose of the research, the inclusion criteria, the benefits and risks, handling of data, and contact information. The pilot participants agreed to participate and had correct understanding of the questions, and no comments were received. Cronbach's α score was calculated and Principal Components Analysis (PCA) was performed for validation of the questionnaire. A Cronbach's α score of 0.722 was obtained, KMO and Bartlett's test yielded results depicting that variables are significantly correlated on PCA. Statistical package for social sciences (SPSS) for Windows v. 20.0 (IBM SPSS Statistics, IBM Corporation, Armonk, NY, USA) was used for data analysis.

The full-scale study

According to the results from the pilot study, the content of the questionnaire was not changed or modified. The convenience sampling technique was used to collect data from the available population. Therefore, to reach a large number of faculties who work in Saudi medical and health colleges in a time-efficient and cost-effective way, the questionnaire was prepared electronically on Google Forms, and the link to the questionnaire was E-mailed to a random sample of faculties. In addition, the link was also posted on and shared via social media (Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and WhatsApp). Similar process of the informed consent used in the pilot study was also implemented in the full-scale study. Three electronic reminders were sent consecutively a few weeks later. The questionnaire link was accessible for almost 3 months. Participation was voluntary, and answers were anonymous. No uncompleted surveys were received. Although the amount of qualitative data gathered by the questionnaire (i.e., responses to the open-ended question) was not huge, the responses were imported into NVivo qualitative data analysis software for Windows v. 11 (QSR International Pty Ltd., Burlington, MA, USA) to identify the frequency of thematic concepts and to simplify data analysis.


  Results Top


A total of 220 faculty members were included in the analysis based on the inclusion criteria. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and inductive thematic analysis for the open-ended question. Since the questionnaire's link was sent to a random sample of faculty members, and the number of faculties in Saudi medical and health colleges is unknown, the response rate could be calculated.

Demographic information

Seven items elaborated background characteristics of the targeted population. Of the total respondents, 161 (73.2%) faculties were males, and 59 (26.8%) faculties were females. The age was distributed in six different ranges. Seventy-one (32.3%) of the respondents (including females) belonged to 36–40 years of age group, 59 (26.8%) to the age group of 31–35 years old, and 38 (17.3%) aged 41–45 years old. Twenty-six (11.8%) were older than 50 years, 19 (8.6%) aged between 46 and 50 years, and seven (3.2%) laid under the age of 31 years old. More than half (52.7%) of the respondents were Saudi citizens, while the remaining faculties (n = 104) were expatriates.

The respondents were representatives of medical and health colleges located in different Saudi cities, but the majority of them were from Riyadh (42.7%), followed by Sakakah, Buraydah, AlDawadmi, AlQunfudhah, Dammam, Rafha, Jeddah, Arar, Ha'il, Tabuk, Najran, Jizzan, Abha, Makkah Al Mukaramh, and Al Madinah Al Munawarah, respectively. The greater proportion (96.3%) of faculty staff was working in governmental university colleges, while the remaining was working in private colleges. Rank-wise, 128 (58.2%) respondents were assistant professors, 42 (19.1%) lecturers, 25 (11.4%) associate professors, 16 (7.3%) professors, and 9 (4.1%) were teaching assistants. Different teaching experiences were reported. Of the total, 44.1% had an experience ≤5 years, and 25.9% had an experience between 6 and 10 years.

Experience with e-learning before and after COVID-19

The second section of the questionnaire provides details about faculties' experience in using e-learning/teaching before and after COVID-19. The participants were asked whether they have used e-learning to deliver lectures or sessions before all physical face-to-face teaching was suspended because of COVID-19 pandemic. Of the total, 35.9% respondents (male = 30.2%; female = 5.7%) did not use e-learning, and 18.2% rarely (male = 14.6%; female = 3.6%) used it. The remaining respondents were either using e-learning regularly (19.1%) or sometimes (26.8%). The participants were asked again whether they used e-learning after all face-to-face meetings were banned. It was found that a greater proportion of respondents (83.2%) were considered using e-learning regularly, while only 8.1% and 4.1% of the respondents were sometimes and rarely used e-learning, respectively. Surprisingly, ten faculty respondents (n = 9 males; n = 1 female) remained away from using e-learning even after COVID-19 emergency [Figure 1].
Figure 1: Faculty members stratified according to their use of e-learning in Saudi medical and health colleges before and after the effect of COVID-19

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Of those who used e-learning/teaching, 124 (59%) participants utilized live classes, 21 (10%) recorded lectures, and 65 (31%) used both. To deliver live and self-paced online lectures, several LMSs or telecommunication applications were used for e-learning: Blackboard (Blackboard Inc., Washington, USA), Zoom (Zoom Inc., San Jose, California, USA), Microsoft Team (Microsoft Corp., Redmond, Washington, USA), GoToMeeting (LogMeln Inc., Boston, Massachusetts, USA), Webex (Cisco Webex Co., Milpitas, California, USA), Moodle (Moodle Pty Ltd., West Perth, Australia), audio recorded Microsoft PowerPoint (Microsoft Corp., Redmond, Washington, USA), Skype (Microsoft Corp., Redmond, Washington, USA), BigBlueButton (BigBlueButton Inc., Ottawa, Canada), and Adobe Presenter Video Express (Adobe Inc., San Jose, California, USA). [Figure 2] shows the percentage distribution of LMSs and applications used for e-learning/teaching. Faculty respondents reported more than one LMS/application, so percentages sum to more than 100%.
Figure 2: The distribution of learning management systems and applications used for e-learning by faculty members in Saudi medical and health colleges. Note. Faculty respondents reported more than one system/application, so percentages sum to more than 100%. ARM ppt: Audio Recorded Microsoft PowerPoint; Adobe PVE: Adobe Presenter Video Express

Click here to view


An open coding procedure was performed by reading each response to the open-ended question (how did you manage to provide the clinical sessions and practical examinations?) and making notes next to key words of the responses. Three themes that emerged from faculties' responses to the question were identified. First, e-learning/teaching is not suitable for clinical sessions and practical examinations. Roughly, 35% of the respondents reported that they could not deliver clinical sessions and practical exams. The brackets within quotations are used to clarify meaning and provide a brief explanation. For example, respondent #4 said, “We postponed it [clinical sessions and practical exams] after the summer vacation to do it face-to-face.” Respondent #11 stated, “Impossible to do it [clinical sessions and practical exams] with distant learning.” Respondent #76 stated, “Not possible [to conduct clinical sessions and practical exams], only theory is being taught.” Respondents #111 reported: “This [clinical sessions and practical exams] is still a challenge!” Respondent #163 said, “Only lectures via recorded Microsoft PowerPoint and no clinical/practical sessions or exams.”

Second, e-learning can somehow substitute physical face-to-face clinical sessions and practical exams. Approximately half of the respondents were able to replicate physical face-to-face clinical sessions and practical exams via e-learning; through such as objective structured practical exam (OSPE), case-based learning (CBL), and structured oral exams. For example, respondent #14 reported: “My practical exams are converted to the form of OSPE.” Respondent #29 said: “I use videos and live sessions for clinical training, but still it is not like training in the hospital.” Respondent #164 stated: “I use virtual clinic with recorded videos of some skills.” Respondent #212 reported, “Exams were done by asking oral questions with camera open.”

Third, clinical sessions and practical exams were not applicable. The remaining faculties (16%); including those who did not use e-learning after COVID-19 pandemic, reported that they had no clinical practice or exams this semester. For example, respondent #110 said: “I did not have any course with lab or practice.” Respondent #220 stated that: “No clinical or practical requirements are needed in my class.”

Acceptance and preparedness for e-learning

Nine items were devoted to establish the level of agreement of faculties' acceptance and preparedness for e-learning. Most faculty respondents either strongly agreed (40.9%) or agreed (36.4%) that e-learning is a useful tool. Of the remaining respondents, 11.8% were uncertain, 8.2% disagreed, and 2.7% strongly disagreed for benefits of e-learning. Exactly, 110 respondents agreed and 63 strongly agreed that they were enthusiastic about and confident in using e-learning in teaching and learning. The remaining respondents were uncertain (15%), disagreed (4.1%), or strongly disagreed (2.3%). The majority of respondents agreed that they readily identified opportunities in their courses for the use of e-learning, while only 4.6% of them disagreed. Uncertain option was chosen by 19.1% of faculties.

Most respondents strongly agreed (44.5%) or agreed (40%) that e-learning/teaching gives them the opportunity to work at their own pace at anytime and anywhere. Consistent with this, more than half of the respondents strongly agreed (19.1%) or agreed (44.1%) that e-learning helped them avoid the difficulties to attend formal sessions and physical face-to-face meetings. Not surprising that 76.4% of faculty respondents agreed that their institutions provided them with appropriate training on e-learning. Only 10.4% strongly disagreed and disagreed with that. [Figure 3] shows summary of the respondents' level of agreement with items number 13–18 in the questionnaire.
Figure 3: The level of agreement of faculty members in Saudi medical and health colleges with e-learning items (number 13–18) in the questionnaire

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More than half of the faculty members strongly disagreed (45%) or disagreed (17.7%) that e-learning/teaching is too time consuming to use in teaching and learning. The remaining respondents were either uncertain (24.5%) or agreed (12.7%). When faculties were asked if e-learning has created more problems (e.g., plagiarism, security issues and technical issues) than it has solved, 41.9% strongly disagreed and disagreed, 29.1% strongly agreed and agreed, and 29% were uncertain. In general, 39.5% of faculties disagreed that e-learning has had little impact on them, 34.1% were uncertain, 17.3% agreed, 6.4% strongly disagreed, and 2.7% strongly agreed. [Figure 4] shows summary of the respondents' level of agreement with items number 19–21 in the questionnaire.
Figure 4: The level of agreement of faculty members in Saudi medical and health colleges with e-learning items (number 19–21) in the questionnaire

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  Discussion Top


The major mission of faculty members in medical and health colleges is to prepare students and future health-care providers through the use of several authentic learning environments, such as problem-based learning sessions and hands-on simulation training. Those faculties suddenly found themselves required to use e-learning as the sole available teaching and assessment method because of the spread of COVID-19. Our study examined views of faculty members on the use of e-learning in Saudi medical and health during COVID-19 pandemic.

The present data of 220 respondents show that most of the faculty members were males and worked at governmental colleges. The majority of them were Saudi citizens from Riyadh city, which has four governmental universities, three private universities, and four private colleges that offer under- and post-graduate degrees in medical and health sciences. The MOE estimated male faculties in all HEIs around 59.2%, while Saudi faculties were estimated to be 61.4%.[14] In addition, the MOE statistics showed that 27.8% of all faculties were from Riyadh. Our findings revealed that most respondents were assistant professors. This is correlated with the main selected age group (i.e., 36–40 years) and teaching experience (i.e., ≤5 years). According to the MOE statistics, the common academic title among faculties in all HEIs is assistant professor.[14] This is expected because of the souring number of returning national scholars to the Kingdom in the past few years.

In response to COVID-19, faculty respondents have quickly transitioned to e-learning. The regular use of e-learning after COVID-19 has sharply increased compared to pre-COVID-19 status. This result shows that face-to-face learning method has always been popular among faculties in Saudi HEIs. Pre-COVID19, Aljaber stated that e-learning has been used as a “complementary and alternative system of learning” in higher education in SA.[10] The transition to e-learning allowed faculties to navigate and utilize several LMSs or telecommunication applications for teaching live and recorded lectures. The majority of them used Blackboard, Zoom, and Microsoft Team. Al-Dali et al. reported that some Saudi HEIs use LMSs, mainly Blackboard and Moodle.[16] No faculty members reported the use of LMS that was built up by their own HEIs. Indeed, a few universities in the Middle East have designed their own LMS to best suit their needs.[10]

How e-learning can be effective for teaching and evaluating clinical skills is a debatable topic.[17] Our results showed that 35% of faculty respondents decided to defer their clinical sessions and exams until colleges resume physical instruction. In general, clinical skills have been considered a challenging area for e-learning.[18] For example, the absence of clinical encounter to teach practical sessions and conduct clinical exams may be the reason for this postponement.[19] One solution, which may not be applicable in the current situation of COVID-19 because it requires face-to-face interactions, is the use of blended learning (i.e., traditional learning activities with e-learning). For example, Facharzt et al. examined the effectiveness of blended learning for teaching family medicine to 4th-year medical students. They reported that blended learning is an effective teaching method, and encouraged to use it in other clinical disciplines.[20] Childs et al. suggested that blending e-learning with clinical encounter may provide an effective learning experience.[21] The blended learning method is more effective than traditional learning methods for improving nursing students' clinical skills.[22]

Other faculties did not consider e-learning as a barrier for teaching and evaluating clinical skills. How faculty members approached and used e-learning varies. Approximately, half of them transferred practical sessions and clinical exams to e-learning through the use of videos and live sessions, OSPE, CBL, virtual learning, and structured oral examinations. E-learning has positive impacts on the achievement of learning outcomes in medical and health professions education.[17],[23],[24] For example, online CBL is a well-recognized valuable approach when teaching health profession students.[25],[26] That being said, the use of e-learning and technology in medical and health professions education as a substitute for hands-on training of clinical skills should be taken with caution.[27]

The majority of faculty respondents said that e-learning is a useful tool that can be implemented in their courses. The benefit of e-learning is not limited to teaching and evaluation but extends to other schemes, such as track students' progress, share course materials with colleagues, and research.[28] Again, most of the faculty respondents agreed that they were enthusiastic about and confident in using e-learning in teaching and learning. Similarly, faculty members in Saudi universities showed a positive attitude toward using Jusur.[29] Other studies showed that educators had positive experiences with e-learning and enjoyed engaging with new tools.[30],[31] The use of e-learning includes complex interrelationships between educators' personal characteristics, their belief in its outcomes, and their confidence level.[32]

Faculty respondents agreed that their institutions provided them with appropriate training on e-learning. Only a few said the opposite. Of the total, 58.1% faculty respondents either agreed or were uncertain that e-learning has created more problems than it has solved. This may be a result of poor computer literacy skills, lack of e-learning support, resistance to change by some faculty members, and poor Internet infrastructures. The lack of institutional support leads to rarely successful e-learning implementation.[33] Faculties who have struggled with using e-learning and who have not received enough support from their institutions are unlikely to have much interest for e-learning in the future. Therefore, providing adequate technical support may increase their desire to use e-learning.[28] Poor faculties skills is one of the barriers to use e-learning.[34] The application of a basic computer literacy policy was suggested as a solution.[21] Faculty members should understand the reason for transferring towards e-learning, and how it is beneficial to all parties involved; so resistance to change could be avoided.[35] Collaboration between faculty members is also needed to provide appropriate education to those with poor e-learning skills.[30],[31]

Although more than half of the respondents believed that e-learning is not time consuming to use in teaching and learning, the lack of time available to learn and utilize e-learning was seen as an obstacle to its use.[34] Institutions are advised to provide adequate time for faculty members to learn new technologies, develop skills, and implement and reflect on practices.[31] Regardless of the presence of some challenges that face the use of e-learning in Saudi medical and health colleges, only 20% felt that e-learning had little impact on them. This suggests that the majority of respondents to this questionnaire were confident and proactive in their use of e-learning. The attitude of faculty members towards e-learning was positive, and they showed preparedness and intention to use it.

Limitations and future research

Although the sample represented all the regions and colleges in the kingdom, a systematic randomization policy was not implemented. Therefore, results may not be generalizable due to variation in faculty members demographics and their colleges' curricula and infrastructures. Although our questionnaire was designed and professionally reviewed, and was validated through a pilot study approved by medical educationalists, it is a new questionnaire that was not validated in other environments and countries. The study has other limitations. The majority of participants were assistant professors, and the number of faculty members was not separately calculated according the type of college whether medical or health sciences. Future research needs to clarify the nature use of e-learning and its effects in medical and health professions education. Further research is needed to assess in depth (a) the curriculum types and/or modifications to suit e-learning and (b) how e-learning can be effectively used to provide clinical sessions and practical exams.


  Conclusion Top


Our findings suggest that the use of e-learning tremendously increased after COVID-19 and created greater educational opportunities in Saudi medical and health colleges. The effects of COVID-19 may forever change the future education methods in these colleges. The longer distant learning continues, the more e-learning will benefit. Thus, COVID-19 may be seen as “a blessing in disguise” in the dynamic era of technology. Although faculty members showed positive attitudes towards the use of e-learning, institutional preparedness as manpower and infrastructural resources is important. Teaching faculties need to gain comprehensive knowledge about technologies and how to implement e-learning in their teaching methods. Furthermore, their institutions have to provide them with inclusive support to increase their proficiency in the technical and educational aspects of e-learning. The current study is not intended to question the effectiveness and efficiency of using e-learning, instead it was designed to investigate faculty members' perspective on the use of e-learning in Saudi medical and health colleges during COVID-19 pandemic. The results of this study provide stakeholders with valuable standpoints about how faculties engage with e-learning. This is an appropriate time to establish a clear strategy that consider e-learning as the major tool for delivering health curricula and overcome barriers to e-learning. In doing so, faculty members and their students will be better prepared to make e-learning a big success.

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank Dr. Tarek Hassan and all faculty respondents for their time and cooperation.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
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