Medical and Nursing Students’ Perception and Experience of Virtual Classrooms during the COVID-19 Pandemic in Nepal

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Nursing, National Medical College Teaching Hospital, Parsa,Nepal

2 Department of Community Medicine, National Medical College Teaching Hospital, Parsa, Nepal

3 Department of Anesthesiology, National Medical College Teaching Hospital, Parsa, Nepal


Background: On March 9, 2020, the government of Nepal declared suspension of all academic activities in line with a nationwide lockdown following the COVID-19 outbreak. To keep pace with the academic calendar, medical universities resumed their teaching and learning activities through virtual means on account of nonfeasibility of holding physical classes. The present study sought to identify the perception and experiences of undergraduate medical and nursing students regarding the virtual classrooms. Methods: We adopted a sequential explanatory mixed method design whereby data were collected in two phases. Quantitative data were gathered from a survey (n=737) and qualitative data from focused group discussion (n=14). The participants were recruited using a non-probability Peer Esteem Snowballing technique. Quantitative data were analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics, whereas qualitative data was examined using a narrative thematic analytic approach. Results: Mean age of participants was 22±2.01 with (81%) female participation. The quantitative findings revealed that the “synchrony” domain had the highest mean score (4.10±0.47) and “course interaction” had the lowest mean score (2.93±0.81) amongst the four domains. The domains were significantly correlated to each other (P=0.01) and (P=0.05). Results from focus group discussion indicated that interactions were lower in the virtual classes and there was a great variation between the learners’ perception and their experiences of virtual classrooms. Students preferred blended classes to be implemented in future sessions. Conclusion: In spite of various challenges, the students perceived the transition from traditional to virtual classrooms in a positive and enthusiastic way. An effective virtual learning experience requires a modified instructional approach on the part of educators and a consistent attitude from learners.


World Health Organization. COVID 19 Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). Global research and innovation forum: towards a research roadmap. Available from: [Accessed: 10th June 2020].
Al Jazeera. Coronavirus: travel restrictions, border shutdowns by country. Coronavirus pandemic News. June 3 2020. Available from: [Accessed: 10th June 2020].
Nicola M, Alsafi Z, Sohrabi C, Kerwan A, Al-Jabir A, Iosifidis C, Agha M, Agha R. The socio-economic implications of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID- 19): A review. International Journal of Surgery. 2020; 78:185-93. doi: 10.1016/j.ijsu.2020.04.018
UNESCO U. COVID-19 educational disruption and response. UNESCO. 2020 Mar 4. Available from: [Accessed: 10th June 2020].
MyRepublica. Govt takes sweeping measures to contain spread of covid-19. 2020 Mar 19. Available from: [Accessed: 13th June 2020].
Poudel A. After second COVID-19 death, government extends lockdown to June 2. The Kathmandu Post. 2020 May 24. Available from: [Accessed: 13th June 2020].
Paudel N: TU doing homework to overcome barriers to online teaching. The Rising Nepal Daily. 2020 April 26. Available from: [Accessed: 10th June 2020]
Dawadi S, Giri R, Simkhada P. Impact of COVID-19 on the Education Sector in Nepal-Challenges and Coping Strategies. Sage Submissions. Preprint. doi:10.31124/advance. 2020 May 21;12344336:v1.
Allen IE, Seaman J. Entering the Mainstream: The Quality and Extent of Online Education in the United States, 2003 and 2004. Sloan Consortium. PO Box 1238, Newburyport, MA 01950; 2004 Nov.
Gedera D. Students’ experiences of learning in a virtual classroom: An Activity Theory perspective. International Journal of Education and Development using ICT. 2014 Dec 31;10(4).
Yilmaz O. The Effects of" Live Virtual Classroom" on Students' Achievement and Students' Opinions about" Live Virtual Classroom" at Distance Education. Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology-TOJET. 2015 Jan;14(1):108-15.
Pangeni SK. Open and Distance Learning: Cultural Practices in Nepal. European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning. 2017, 19:32-45. Doi: 10.1515/eurodl-2016-0006
Ashis S. Challenges in establishing virtual class room: an experience from a low middle income country medical university. Journal of Patan Academy of Health Sciences. 2019Jun, 6:6-7. doi: 10.3126/jpahs.v7i3.33737
Arbaugh JB. Virtual classroom versus Physical Classroom: An Exploratory Study of Class Discussion Patterns and Student Learning in an Asynchronous Internet-Based MBA course. Journal of Management Education. 2000, 24:213-33. doi: 10.1177/105256290002400206
Parker MA, Martin F. Using virtual classrooms: Student perceptions of features and characteristics in an online and a blended Course. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching. 2010, 6:135-47.
Sandars J, Correia R, Dankbaar M, de Jong P, Goh PS, Hege I, Masters K, Oh SY, Patel R, Premkumar K, Webb A. Twelve tips for rapidly migrating to online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. MedEdPublish. 2020 Apr 29;9. doi: 10.5116/ijme.5f20.55f2
Cecilio-Fernandes D, Parisi MC, Santos TM, Sandars J. The COVID-19 pandemic and the challenge of using technology for medical education in low and middle income countries. MedEdPublish. 2020 Apr 23;9. doi: 10.15694/mep.2020.000074.1
Creswell JW, Plano Clark VL. Designing and conducting mixed methods research.2. Los Angeles. SAGE. 2011.
Polit DF, Beck CT. Nursing Research. 9th edition. New Delhi. Wolters Kluwer Health I Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2012.
Nunnaly J. Psychometric Theory. New York: McGraw Hill. 1978.
Mukhtar K, Javed K, Arooj M, Sethi A. Advantages, Limitations and Recommendations for online learning during COVID-19 pandemic era. Pakistan journal of medical sciences. 2020 May;36(COVID19-S4):S27. doi:10.12669/pjms.36.COVID19-S4.2785
Khan BH. Discussion of resources and attributes of the web for the creation of meaningful learning environments. CyberPyschology & Behavior. 2000, 3:17-23. doi: 10.1089/109493100316193
Ng YF, Chan KK, Lei H, Mok P, Leung SY. Pedagogy and innovation in science education: A Case study of an experiential learning science undergraduate course. The. European Journal of Social and Behavioral sciences. 2019:2910-26. doi: 10.15405/ejsbs.254
Davis FD. Perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use, and user acceptance of information technology. MIS Quarterly. 1989:319-40. doi: 10.2307/249008
Al-Nuaim HA. The Use of Virtual Classrooms in E-learning: a case study in King Abdul-Aziz University, Saudi Arabia. E-Learning and. Digital Media. 2012, 9:211-22. doi: 10.2307/249008
Rovai AP. Building Sense of Community at a Distance. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning. 2002;3(1). doi: 10.19173/249008/irr0dl.v3i1.79
Nicolaides A. Innovative teaching and learning methodologies for higher education institutions. Education Research. 2012, 3:620-6. doi: 10.9790/487X-1907028892
Sinan K, Hall Y. Factors Affecting Students preferences for Online and Blended Learning. Motivational vs. Cognitive. European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning. 2019, 22:71-85. doi: 10.2478/eurodl-2019-0011