A guide for evaluation of online learning in medical education: a qualitative reflective analysis

Nourhan F Wasfy, Enjy Abouzeid, Asmaa Abdel Nasser, Samar A Ahmed, Ilham Youssry, Nagwa N Hegazy, Mohamed Hany K Shehata, Doaa Kamal, Hani Atwa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
41 Downloads (Pure)


With the strike of Covid-19, an unprecedented rapid shift to remote learning happened worldwide with a paradigm shift to online learning from an institutional adjuvant luxury package and learner choice into a forced solo choice. This raises the question of quality assurance. While some groups have already established standards for online courses, teaching and programs yet very little information is included on methodology of their development and very little emphasis is placed on the online learning experience. Nevertheless, no work has been done specifically for medical education institutions.

To develop a set of descriptors for best practice in online learning in medical education utilizing existing expertise and needs.

This work utilizes a qualitative multistage approach to identify the descriptors of best practice in online learning starting with a question guided focus group, thematic analysis, Delphi technique and an expert consensus session done simultaneously for triangulation. This was done involving 32 institution in 19 countries.

This materialized into the development of a set of standards, indicators, and development of a checklist for each standard area. The standard areas identified were organizational capacity, educational effectiveness, and human resources each of which listed a number of standards. Expert consensus sessions identified the need for qualification of data and thus the development of indicators for best practice.

Standards are needed for online learning experience and their development and redesign is situational and needs to be enhanced methodologically in axes that are pertaining to the needs of the education community. Taking such axes into consideration by educators and institutions will lead to planning and implementing successful online learning activities, while taking them into consideration by the evaluators will help them conduct comprehensive audits and provide stakeholders with highly informative evaluation reports.
Original languageEnglish
Article number339
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
Early online date10 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished online - 10 Jun 2021


  • Online learning
  • standards
  • qualitative


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