Active e-learning in ophthalmology through live webinars: back to the theatre

To the Editor:

We read with interest the article titled “Transforming ophthalmic education into virtual learning during COVID-19 pandemic: a global perspective” by Chatziralli et al. [1]. They highlighted the need of the continuity of ophthalmology education and the crucial role that e-learning may have during pandemic [1]. In a previous survey-based study assessing the impact of pandemic on training, we outlined that the long-term reorganization of ophthalmology education can significantly benefit from technology-based teaching tools [2]. Moreover, educational activities involving learners’ active participation and promoting interaction (active learning) are known to be superior to passive lecturing in terms of teaching effectiveness [3].

In this regard, we describe, for the first time, an innovative model of active e-learning in a web-based course in vitreoretinal surgery, held at Humanitas University, Milan, Italy. The course was entirely broadcast online and structured using webinars and active learning techniques (case-based discussion, pause procedures, commitment activities, open discussion) (Table 1). Ninety-nine participants (ophthalmology trainees and specialists) attended the course, of which 44 (group A) at the venue and 45 (group B) via live streaming. Lecture and surgery webinars were followed via live streaming by both groups, whereas formal lectures, case-based and open discussion sessions were attended at the venue by group A and via live streaming by group B. A course evaluation survey was conducted using a five-point scale ranging from 1 (very poor) to 5 (excellent).

Table 1 Structure of the course.

Overall, the participants were highly satisfied with the course (4.875 ± 0.4 in group A, 4.82 ± 0.45 in group B) and teaching effectiveness (4.7 ± 0.52 and 4.89 ± 0.3 in group A and B, respectively). The interaction level was highly rated regardless of attendance modality (4.75 ± 0.54 in group A, 4.79 ± 0.52 in group B). Both groups strongly appreciated lecture and surgery webinars (4.775 ± 0.48 and 4.75 ± 0.59 in group A, 4.84 ± 0.43 and 4.82 ± 0.45 in group B, respectively). Mean scores did not significantly differ for all the items between the groups (Table 2).

Table 2 Mean scores of the course audience’s survey.

Ophthalmology active e-learning may be a promising teaching format, preserve interaction and audience engagement and, thus, improve ophthalmology education, ensuring the continuity of learning beyond any situational barriers.


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    Chatziralli I, Ventura CV, Touhami S, Reynolds R, Nassisi M, Weinberg T, et al. Transforming ophthalmic education into virtual learning during COVID-19 pandemic: a global perspective. Eye. 2020:1–8.

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The authors thank Hannah Levis for proofreading this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Mario R. Romano.

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Romano, M.R., Ferrara, M., Rocha-de-Lossada, C. et al. Active e-learning in ophthalmology through live webinars: back to the theatre. Eye (2020).

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