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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 85

The utility of Telegram® in online problem-based learning during COVID-19 pandemic

Medical Education Department, College of Medicine, Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University, Dammam, Saudi Arabia

Date of Submission30-Apr-2020
Date of Acceptance04-Jun-2020
Date of Web Publication27-Jul-2020

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Muhammad Zafar Iqbal
Admin Bldg. (400), 2nd Floor, King Fahd University Hospital, AlKhobar 31952
Saudi Arabia
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/EHP.EHP_11_20

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How to cite this article:
Iqbal MZ, AlSheikh MH. The utility of Telegram® in online problem-based learning during COVID-19 pandemic. Educ Health Prof 2020;3:85

How to cite this URL:
Iqbal MZ, AlSheikh MH. The utility of Telegram® in online problem-based learning during COVID-19 pandemic. Educ Health Prof [serial online] 2020 [cited 2020 Oct 21];3:85. Available from: https://www.ehpjournal.com/text.asp?2020/3/2/85/290918

  Educational Problem Top

Problem-based learning (PBL) is the main educational strategy in preclinical years of our medical school. In response to the recent COVID-19[1] pandemic, our medical school has shifted to online PBL sessions via Zoom, a commercial cloud-based video conferencing application.[2] The online PBL follows the same three-staged face-to-face learning format – problem analysis, self-study, and problem solving. After 1 month, a survey was conducted to evaluate the efficacy of online PBLs which showed mixed opinions. Although students valued online PBL strategy, few concerns were also raised. One frequently reported issue was the difficulty of sharing information among group members during and after session while maintaining privacy. Another concern was that online sessions were perceived less productive to discuss the problem due to technical issues, accidental interference, and poor tutor control over the session.

  Innovative Intervention Top

Second- and third-year students were advised to use Telegram ® (Telegram Messenger LLP, 2016) application during and after online PBL sessions for group discussions and exchange of learning resources. Telegram is a cloud-based messaging application in which the users can create multiple groups and channels.[3] We chose this application over other instant messenger applications (WhatsApp, Facebook, WeChat, and Twitter) because it neither offers restriction to the number of group members nor to the type of shared content. Another reason was that Telegram uses channels which are one-way messaging windows used by the admin to broadcast content and any user can anonymously access it, thus ensuring complete privacy. After 3 weeks, an online survey was conducted via QuestionPro ® (Survey Analytics LLC, Beaverton, Oregon, USA) to inquire the utility of Telegram in online learning. In this survey, five open-ended questions were asked, and a content analysis was performed on the received 294 student responses.

  Results Top

Students reported that during the online session, Telegram helped them to communicate with each other, post questions, and clarify confusions. In addition, Telegram was also used to conduct formative assessment through quizzes during the sessions. After the session, Telegram channels were frequently used to anonymously access a wide range of learning resources such as question banks, handouts, journal articles, audio, and e-books. The students valued the anonymity, in particular, as their contact details remain hidden while browsing through a channel content. Students suggested that Telegram offered a more professional platform than other apps to share session schedules, Zoom session links, and announcements related to upcoming sessions. Students also reported some drawbacks such as distraction due to chat notifications, complex interface, and delayed app upgrade. Overall, students rated Telegram as a resourceful platform to actively engage, collaborate, and share educational content.

  References Top

Lipsitch M, Swerdlow DL, Finelli L. Defining the epidemiology of Covid-19-studies needed. N Engl J Med 2020;382:1194-6.  Back to cited text no. 1
Goh PS, Sandars J. A vision of the use of technology in medical education after the COVID-19 pandemic. MedEdPublish 2020;9:1-8.  Back to cited text no. 2
Alizadeh I. Evaluating the educational usability of Telegram as an SNS in ESAP programs from medical students' perspective. Educ Inf Technol 2018;23:2569-85.  Back to cited text no. 3


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