Blended learning in undergraduate dental education: a global pilot study
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AIMS: To explore the global trends in blended learning in undergraduate dental education during the COVID pandemic and during the recovery phase by engaging with the students and faculty and evaluate the implications for dental education in the post-COVID era. METHODS: It was a pilot cross-sectional study which employed a convenience sampling technique to recruit representatives of dental faculty and undergraduate students in 80 dental institutions globally. A previously validated questionnaire consisting of a combination of closed and open-ended items was used for data collection. Responses to these online questionnaires were processed and analysed using the R statistical computing environment. RESULTS: A total of 320 dental students and 169 faculty members from 47 different dental institutions participated in the study. Video and Live Online Tutorials were considered to be the most effective method of online learning followed by online question banks by both groups. Significant differences were noted between faculty and students regarding time spent and effectiveness of online teaching and learning, respectively, both before and after the start of COVID. The results highlight the faculty need to engage more closely with the students to address their learning needs. Finally, the participants provided several recommendations regarding the future development of teaching and learning strategies as well as assessments in the post-pandemic era. CONCLUSIONS: This is the first study which explores blended learning in dental education with participants from multiple institutions in different regions of the globe. Compared to the faculty, students considered online learning to be less interactive and preferred learning activities and all assessments to be delivered face-to-face. The results underscore the need to adapt teaching practices to suit the learning needs of the students.
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