Covid-19 has certainly increased the use of online education, but it is not the only cause. The trend in e-learning has had a gradual penetration in recent years, whereas it is now prevalent.
Today, educational organizations as well as pharmacists themselves, especially young people, have a great familiarity with e-learning, while combining it with "face to face" education to maximize the benefit.
Like videoconferencing, e-learning has been benefited because of the health crisis lately. What could not be done in person was necessarily done remotely, and this situation remains partly today.
The acceleration in the use of e-learning, due to the health crisis, highlights the slow but certain adoption of this way of education by pharmacists as well.
Digital education is no longer just a complement to "face to face" but a real cornerstone in their continuous education.
The ease of access to online education
It is also a matter of generations. Older people still prefer "face to face" education, while most young people are interested in the Internet. But there is a gradual change.
Although a few years ago, all digital educational tools were available, videos, graphics, interactivity..., what has changed today is that broad band connectivity has expanded.
As a result, access is facilitated, as well as improved ergonomics. One of the new phenomena that have marked e-learning in recent years, is the ease of access anywhere, anytime, by any digital means, such as a smartphone.
After all, young people have grown up with these means!
Today, we see new pharmacists who are willingly looking for e-learning courses, so that they can attend them wherever they are. It should also be noted that short forms of seminars, if increasingly developed, are in line with both this ease of access and the development of training practices.
Two to three-hour modules consisting of thirty-minute sessions, short and essential, especially as the concentration of the individual. It is limited for a longer period.
And just as with any person looking for a topic that interests him on YouTube, so it happens with pharmacists!
The online training in the spotlight
However, we do not need to sacrifice the importance of the principle of education in this development with short seminars. The risk occurs when we confuse education with information.
We must stick to an education logic and this is an issue on which specialised companies want to remain at the forefront. E-learning, in this context, is not a rigid or exclusive practice.
Providers can combine it with the "in person" education, if necessary. There are indeed complex issues, which sometimes require a classic acquisition of knowledge and then their application.
This is particularly true, for example, in the context of sales and communication techniques, in the field of merchandizing or in matters of pharmaceutical care in chronic diseases, we need to devote several hours of online training.
Undoubtedly, as we have the permissible health data, we will return to "face-to-face" education, especially in matters concerning the technical scope. However, this does not apply to all fields of learning and information.
E-learning will continue to gain ground, especially when it makes it easier for the learner to watch an on-demand seminar for example, anytime, from wherever it is and with whatever digital means it has.
In addition, there is also the hybrid form of education which is not strictly limited to e-learning but is also done in person. Therefore, everyone who is interested, can learn by watching, in the way that he wants and suits him.
However, many digital lessons do not have the same impact, the same performance, as those that are done in person. It is important to increase the interaction, which we cannot do through a screen; the same goes for the trainees, who get tired much more easily and are distracted when they are in front of a screen.
E-learning has many advantages. In a very visual and interactive way, it offers great freedom of access to the content. Each topic, divided into teaching units, allows students to learn gradually and when they wish through interactive content, that is filled in with self-assessment questionnaires.
This digital method of e-learning is a method of training that is evolving because it responds to the major problem of the pharmacist, which is the lack of time.
However, learners remain sensitive to the physical presence of the instructor, so that the ideal solution would be to combine practical training and e-learning.
New forms of education
In addition to the ease of access to e-learning and its impact on forms of education, there is a phenomenon reported by specialized educational organizations linked to what is called 'gamification' or 'serious game'.
By using a format of a video game, as achallenge according to experts, helps us learn faster. For example, it could be applied to the issue of drug interactions, which may be the subject of such an approach.
Of course, this has quite a significant cost. It is very expensive to produce such an educational form and the return on investment may not be sufficient to compensate for the cost of "Gamification" is a very exciting logic, like a role-playing game, but its expensive development prevents its penetration for education in pharmacies.
To conclude, we should emphasize that the cost of e-learning and especially of online conferences is not negligible.
Experts from different sectors need to work together, graphic designers, designers, videographers, audio specialists, etc. for a relatively small market- only 15,000-16,000 people- who staff pharmacies in Greece