The results of this literature review are presented. The findings of every research topic are examined in depth. The focuse of the reviewed articles is presented in Table 2. In the selected investigations, most educational institutions moved to online learning. The quality requirements listed in Table 3 were used to construct 14 studies.
Area of focus
In this study, 14 publications considered the effect of COVID-19 on pharmacy education, specifically the technological change they sparked, distance and online learning challenges and benefits, and the recommendations for future studies. Eight papers discussed students’ and faculty’s experiences with remote learning and the participants’ perspectives on its possible benefits and drawbacks. Besides, four publications provided remote learning solutions or tested the performance of a specific technology.
Three articles discussed educational policies considering the pandemic and examined the new approach to teaching and learning activities. Two papers investigated how the closure and subsequent transformation to technology-based education compounded achievement gaps. The gaps were revealed between students from lower-income households who lacked internet access and devices and those from higher-income families with devices and easy access to the Internet.
The key challenges can be summarized in the following points: disparity in accessibility, training insufficiency, lack of communication, technical issues, pressure, work, and confidence, and lack of student involvement, technical knowledge, and performance evaluation.
There is a disparity in accessibility for pharmacy students, typically linked to family income, discussed in four articles from the review sources. The shift to distance and online learning worsened the disparities between wealthy and disadvantaged pharmacy students. Students studying pharmacy in less affluent areas have little or no access to supporting devices and the Internet. Students from low-income families were reported to have less skill and knowledge of technology than students from high-income families with strong economic backgrounds. The inequality goes to institutions located in rural areas, which are under-equipped compared to institutions located in cities or urban areas, resulting in different challenges faced by each type of institution.
While technology can enhance the learning experience, it cannot completely replace it, especially in pharmacy professions requiring hands-on laboratory training that indeed produces training insufficiency. The phenomenon is especially true in health-related fields, such as pharmacy. The papers on pharmacy education emphasized the importance of hands-on experience and how secondary knowledge derived through simulation, presentation recordings, or online meetings through video conferencing cannot replace the experience.
Because of the depreciation or lack of physical interaction and the intrinsic vagueness of textual exchanges, forming and maintaining connections and forging communication between students, their classmates, and their teachers became increasingly challenging. With the inexistence of visible touch and the capacity to observe students in classrooms, teachers and instructors have a more challenging time explaining directions and evaluating student response, involvement, and participation. These lack of communication challenges have been revealed in three articles within this literature review.
Technical issues such as Internet or Wi-Fi access, tool malfunctions, and stream stability might obstruct communication. As the pandemic spread over the globe, accessibility to a dependable internet connection became increasingly vital in the last year, and quite enough of day-to-day life shifted from in-person to online. Many students, however, have suffered from technological challenges since the start of Covid 19, and existing disparities have indeed been exacerbated by the lack of consistent accessibility.
Pressure, work, and confidence were all impacted by the students’ and teachers’ forced and quick transfer to remote learning. Many pharmacy students and faculty members faced financial and social anxiety due to the lockdown, which indirectly impacted their performance. Academic employees, for example, had to deal with increased or even quadrupled workloads. Extended time without face-to-face social interaction can also harm one’s mental health.
Technical knowledge is the next challenge of the current study. Many educational institutions, schools, and universities were surprised by this rapid and forced digital change, giving educational leaders limited time to educate their professional personnel. The complex evidence and reality left non-tech-aware teachers and instructors unprepared and unequipped to work with complex technological-based activities. Teachers’ lack of technical expertise and prior experience using online tools are also challenges. In many circumstances, the incapacity of faculty members to use technology hampered the success of distance and online learning.
Other difficulties include a lack of student involvement and performance evaluation. Student engagement was occasionally weak due to dependency on recorded meetings, limitation of intention, and stress produced by using the devices. There was also weariness from staring at screens for long periods, isolated thoughts, and melancholy from a limited personal touch. Teachers faced problems revising learning assessments to fairly record student academic performance and achievements, which is challenging during distance and online learning, especially for pharmacy students.
Other challenges might also be faced during distance and online learning due to Covid-19. The quality of online and distance learning in pharmacy education is one of them, and it can be a major issue. The government’s educational policy makes no explicit mention of distance and learning. Lack of quality control, development of e-resources, and content delivery can be present. This issue needs to be addressed in further work, especially in pharmacy education, so that all stakeholders can take advantage of the advantages of high-quality distance and online education. One should consider developing and improving the quality of learning for future pandemics.
This stage highlights the benefits of digital change in pharmacy education for more opportunities in the future of education. There are a number of benefits informed by sources included in this systematic literature review, namely bridging the gap between time and place, communication effectiveness, information transition, and cost-effectiveness.
Distance and online learning bridge the gap between time and place, that gives pharmacy students and teachers the freedom to listen to academic lectures and speeches from the coziness of their living rooms or from anywhere else. Due to the time, it also enables pupils to self-regulate their education and progress at their own pace. Distance and online learning give students the opportunities to listen to their lectures from the comfort of their own homes or from anywhere else. Because of the adaptability enabled by elements such as recording, distance and online learning also helps students to self-regulate their learning and continue at their speed. Online learning allows for a more modern and practical way of communication. Significant debates might be addressed during courses, and participants can profit from these talks by observing or engaging in chat.
Distance and online learning facilitate communication effectiveness because participants shouldn’t have to talk face to face or deal with the anxiety that comes with talking in front of a live audience, which encourages more conversation. Parents of young children can also benefit from online learning by becoming more active in their children’s education. The pressures of the pandemic to shift to digital and remote educational models in teaching revealed flaws in the approach and compelled lecturers to consider and evaluate present and prior instructional approaches, offering a glimpse into what educational technology could look like, encouraging didactical advancement and accelerating changes in technology-based education. The process can be considered a catalyst for curricular and classroom improvement.
The employment of simulations and other approaches for educational goals and the deployment of online learning are seen as beneficial and adequate, if not comprehensive, substitutes for traditional learning. It met the goal of continuing to provide instruction in the face of the epidemic while also assisting pupils in meeting their expectations. Distance and online learning also help increase information transmission, with additional benefits of cost-effectiveness. Students are exposed to new and relevant technologies by integrating technology into education.
Recommendations and suggestions
The solution is raising and sustaining their motivation to promote morale and battle any lockdown-induced stress or worry. Accessible online learning portals are for institutions in pharmacy education. Generating and accepting feedback from learners to ensure the quality of online learning is another piece of advice made by the existing literature in pharmacy education. They are examining the outcomes of distance and online learning and commenting on the distinctions between it and traditional education to identify which components are sustainable and fit the expectations placed on pharmacy education in general by the pandemic situation.
The current study also helps lecturers use effective instructional strategies and allows educational institutions to enhance online instructional resources continuously. Pharmacy students comprehend the required courses and sense the connection of the study content to the actual world. Teachers must set clear expectations and establish course objectives and the value of the syllabus to accomplish this. Early in the academic year, they must also define their roles and duties as instructors and facilitators. Furthermore, authorities should aim to assess and prevent any dangers or disadvantages of economic or workload discrepancies because of this rapid transition from traditional learning to distance and online learning during crises like Covid-19.
Another piece of advice is to reassess and rethink educational practices and formulate guidance to steer the shifts to online and distance learning and make necessary infrastructural improvements. The activities are designed to familiarize students and professors with technology, develop their competence, and equip them to deal with technological challenges that may arise during online lectures. This will also aid in the effective use of technology to fulfill its full potential in online education. Finally, it is critical to provide underequipped pupils with the essential tools to participate in online communications, such as devices and solid internet access.