Letter for the article Assess the usefulness and acceptability of

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Mr. editor

We have read with great interest the article written by Cooper et al assessing the usefulness and acceptability of review webinars for medical students on the topics of pediatrics, psychiatry and obstetrics and gynecology.1 Our compliments to Cooper et al for their diligence in ensuring that feedback was gathered both before and after the webinars and from a large cohort of students, which made it possible to draw conclusions from a diverse and representative sample. As final year medical students, we would like to share our views to further improve the applicability of these findings.

Our first suggestion is for the central discussion on the effectiveness of webinars versus in-person teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic. In their article, Cooper et al suggest that the majority of students reported an increase in perceived knowledge of the topic after the online course. We would like to emphasize that the ability to convey key learning points to students is a more reliable measure of the effectiveness of a teaching session as opposed to perceived knowledge. Indeed, the perceived knowledge is not correlated with the knowledge or the actual performance of the subject.2 Therefore, it is essential that an objective assessment of the knowledge retained by webinar participants is performed and compared to an assessment for those who have received identical instruction in a traditional face-to-face format.

Second, the article reports that nearly two-thirds of students prefer the teaching session to be repeated as a webinar in the future for the sake of convenience, flexibility and cost efficiency. However, this does not adequately recognize its impact on students from under-represented and disadvantaged backgrounds, as an important aspect of attending and benefiting from online education is having an appropriate learning environment. This can be a problem for students from already under-represented backgrounds, whose home environment may not be suitable for learning and cannot mimic a professional learning environment. If webinars replace face-to-face teaching in the future, it risks further disadvantaging these students and widening the achievement gap that already exists for those from low socioeconomic backgrounds and BAME (British , Asian and ethnic minorities).3 We believe this potential negative impact should be explored before making decisions about the long-term use of webinars in medical education.

Finally, for the benefit of kinesthetic learners like us, a contributing factor to explore is preferred learning styles compared to knowledge retained from the webinar, as there is little literature exploring this in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. This consideration could make the study more applicable as obstetrics, gynecologic surgery and pediatric surgery are practical specialties.

Without a doubt, there are many advantages to using webinars, but we hope that our perspective on the areas mentioned above, while not exhaustive, will positively contribute to this discussion.

Disclosure

The authors do not point out any conflicts of interest in this communication.

The references

1. Cooper N, Sharma A, Cooper J, Al-Asady Y, Khajuria A. Assessing the usefulness and acceptability of a “specialties” webinar intended for review for the training of medical students in fifth and fifth grade. UK final year during COVID-19 pandemic: is this the future of medical education? Adv Med Educ Pract. 2021; 12: 979-985. doi: 10.2147 / AMEP.S321533

2. Hall SR, Stephens JR, Seaby EG, et al. Can Medical Students Accurately Predict Their Learning? A study comparing perceived and real performance in neuroanatomy. Anat Sci Educ. 2016; 9 (5): 488-495. doi: 10.1002 / ase.1601

3. Claridge H, Stone K, Ussher M. The ethnic gap among medical and biomedical science students: a qualitative study. BMC Med Educ. 2018; 18 (1): 1–2. doi: 10.1186 / s12909-018-1426-5


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