Virtual Education Challenges during the COVID-19 Pandemic in Academic Settings: A Systematic Review


1 MS of Software Engineering, Information and Communication Technology Unit, Mashhad Municipality Fire and Safety Services Organization, Mashhad, Iran.

2 Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran.

3 Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran.

4 MSc of Clinical Psychology, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran.

5 Pediatric Neurologist, Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran.



Background: The global transition to virtual education has increased following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of schools and universities. The present study investigates the challenges of virtual education during the COVID-19 pandemic from the perspective of Iranian faculty members and university students.
Materials and Methods: In this systematic review, a systemic search of online databases (Medline, EMBASE, Scopus, Web of Science, SID, CIVILICA, Magiran, and Google Scholar search engine) was conducted for relevant studies with no time limit up to April 2022. Inclusion criteria were original research articles (qualitative, quantitative, and combined studies) with an acceptable score in the Gifford Quality Assessment.
Results: Finally, nine studies were included. Results showed that 84.5% of students agreed with continuing with virtual education, but the challenges were problems related to the Internet (e.g., disconnection and connection), problems of the electronic systems (e.g., disconnection of the system), problems related to the microphone (e.g., sound echo), problems related to interaction (e.g., one-sided communication), problems of faculty members (e.g., insufficient familiarity with the system), problems of students (e.g., higher level of the exam from the teaching of professors), and macro social problems (e.g., in educational justice).
Conclusion: The educational challenges arising from the outbreak of COVID-19 consist of three areas: infrastructural and technical challenges, challenges created in the teaching-learning process, and socio-cultural challenges. By addressing these challenges, virtual training can be a solution for education during the pandemic, and blended education can be suitable for the post-pandemic period.