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Table of Contents
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 21  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 2-3

Move towards virtual learning in the context of COVID-19 pandemic: Opportunities and challenges

Consultant, Indian Nursing Council and Former Dean and Professor, College of Nursing, CMC, Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Web Publication14-Sep-2020

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Punitha Ezhilarasu
Consultant, Indian Nursing Council and Former Dean and Professor, College of Nursing, CMC, Vellore, Tamil Nadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijcn.ijcn_83_20

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How to cite this article:
Ezhilarasu P. Move towards virtual learning in the context of COVID-19 pandemic: Opportunities and challenges. Indian J Cont Nsg Edn 2020;21:2-3

How to cite this URL:
Ezhilarasu P. Move towards virtual learning in the context of COVID-19 pandemic: Opportunities and challenges. Indian J Cont Nsg Edn [serial online] 2020 [cited 2021 Jun 23];21:2-3. Available from: https://www.ijcne.org/text.asp?2020/21/1/2/295055

I am highly honored to write the Guest Editorial for this issue on the special occasion of College of Nursing as it celebrates the Golden Jubilee of MSc Nursing program and Silver Jubilee of PhD program. It is a great opportunity for me to be in the first batch of PhD. Having had the privilege of founding this journal, it gives me again another opportunity to recall the success of two decades of journey in journal publication by College of Nursing which is also a landmark in the same year 2020.

At this juncture I would like to explore the existing scenario of nursing education in our country and find meaning alongside opportunities and challenges that have brought several changes in the educational system. There is a definite paradigm shift towards converting the live learning environment into a virtual learning environment. How did this transformation happen? All because of the present COVID-19 crisis. The emergence of global pandemic has created lock down situation leading to closing of educational institutions and inability to access clinical and classroom learning environment. This rapid transition has replaced face to face and group learning into online learning and teaching. Interacting with students face to face as they master new concepts and skills has been a great rewarding experience for the teachers and students. Today as the situation warrants, they are driven from their classrooms into the virtual realm of online education, an unfamiliar terrain for many.

  Navigating the New Normal Top

The technology-based culture has made the transition to a completely online format readily achievable and even exciting. The support and resources available to students and faculty are incredible. However, shifting courses from on-ground to online was only the beginning. With the online-education stage set, teachers had a responsibility to help students manage expectations and fears while they learned to navigate their new normal. Previously established norms, expectations, relationships and patterns were gone, and in some ways it was like starting over. To continue the educational process, classes were held on Zoom, google classroom, Cisco WebEx meeting, social media platforms such as whatsApp, you tube streaming, college website etc., Assignments were refined or reduced to ensure they were manageable with limited physical resources and new assignments were created to suit the learning needs. Clinical and simulation experiences have been replaced by virtual simulation, scenario based online learning and online OSCE. All these have created several opportunities as well as challenges.

  Opportunities Top

As teachers continued to support and educate, students continued to succeed and excel. Fears were allayed, myths were dispelled, and a new sense of hope emerged. Teachers were making a difference and meeting the learning needs not in the classroom or clinical field but in the world of virtual education as educators, advisers, voices of reason, and friendly faces.

There's no doubt that COVID-19 has had a negative impact on daily life, but in the world of education, there is a silver lining to be found. Educators from across the university found an absolute need to think outside the box. While we are always encouraged to do so, education, like any other profession can often rely on the status quo. COVID-19 took business as usual off the table and provided an opportunity to try new and different things we had never considered before and implement strategies that had perhaps been dreamed of but deemed impossible.

Successful innovation and transformation are likely to be sustainable and expandable. To promote transformation participatory cultures must extend beyond educational institutions to encompass wider communities of nursing educations and clinical staff. This requires leadership, transparency and collegiate collaboration. Pooling of digital and practice learning educational resources enhances quality of learning. Besides disruptive impact of COVID-19, it has brought opportunity for transformation and innovation.[1] While students and teachers enjoyed some of these as opportunities and they did face many challenges too.

  Challenges Top

Challenges that prevail due to this rapid change have been influenced by institution's attitudes to e-learning, type of pedagogy, existing IT infrastructure, availability of learning technology support, staff digital literacy and redeployment of clinical academics. Students have been compelled to adapt online educational delivery, experiencing discomfort due to limited digital literacy, absence of physical engagement and comradeship.

Educationally, students had mounting pressure related to their degree completion requirements. They are unable to complete their clinical hours when they are no longer able to go to their clinical areas of posting or assigned hospitals. The question of having enough bandwidth to attend virtual classes by students and have easy access to teachers and resources pose a great challenge. The continuity of learning and assessment is creating difficulties for students and educators. Examinations are unable to be conducted as planned and regulators such as Indian Nursing Council, UGC, and respective Universities are constantly reviewing the situation and proposing various changes to accommodate the existing scenario. These are just a few of their concerns, and they were constantly accompanied by fears about health, finances, graduating on time, and transitioning into an overwhelmed and exhausted workforce.

  Conclusion Top

Nursing being a practicing profession, the education and training of nursing students largely take place in various clinical settings. It is in the practical field that students learn to develop numerous nursing competencies for development of clinical expertise and quality training. Remote teaching although provides an alternative in times of crisis, they cannot replace the clinical experience and training.[2] The lasting changes that have resulted from this pandemic particularly in nursing education may remain to be seen, but they will be significant and far reaching.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Carolan C, Davies CL, Crookes P, McGhee S, Roxburgh M. COVID 19: Disruptive impacts and transformative opportunities in undergraduate nurse education. Nurse Educ Pract. 2020;46:102807. doi: 10.1016/j.nepr.2020.102807.  Back to cited text no. 1
Costa R, Lino MM, Souza AI, Lorenzini E, Fernandes GC, Brehmer LC, et al. Nursing teaching in COVID-19 times: How to reinvent it in this context? Texto Contexto-Enfermagem 2020;29:e20200202.  Back to cited text no. 2


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