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Id: 888492Participatory Educational Research (PER)Vol. 8(4), pp. 321-333, December 2021Available online at http://www.perjournal.comISSN: roblems faced in distance education during Covid-19 PandemicGül Özüdoğru*Department of Educational Science, Kırşehir Ahi Evran University, Kırşehir, Turkey,ORCID: 0000-0002-5128-1258Article historyReceived:01.02.2021Received in revised form:08.04.2021Accepted:22.04.2021Key words:Covid-19;Pandemic;Distance education problems;Pre-service teacherThis study aimed to investigate the problems faced by pre-serviceteachers in the distance education process, which has been implementedduring the Covid-19 pandemic. The study was carried out as a case studyof qualitative research methods. The study group comprised pre-serviceteachers receiving education in the faculty of education in a stateuniversity in Turkey during the spring term of the 2019-2020 academicyear. In order to collect data, the researcher created an interview form.Then the form was applied to the pre-service teachers on a volunteerbasis and online. The content analysis method was used in the dataanalysis. The data were coded by two researchers. Miles and Huberman’s(1994) formula was used for a consensus between the coders. At the endof the study the problems experienced by the pre-service teachers werecollected under the themes of implementation, student, impossibility,technical and instructor. The pre-service teachers stated that they mainlyfaced problems such as the lack of time spared for live courses regarding“implementation”; failure of establishing communication with friendsregarding “student”; absence of internet regarding “impossibility”, soundproblems regarding “technical” and lack of communication regarding“instructor”. Determining the problems is a step to their solutions inlearning and teaching environmentIntroductionDistance education is a process of planned teaching learning that occurs in a differentplace from the normal learning setting and requires communication and a special corporateorganization via technologies (Moore & Kearsley, 2012). The definition of distance educationhas four components: a. Corporate basis b. Interactive telecommunication c. Data, sound andvideo sharing (learning experiences) d. Separation of teacher and student (Simonson,Smaldino, Albright & Zvacek, 2008). Distance education is a concept which pertains toincreasing the quality of education to develop student’s learning (Burns, 2011).Distance education in which the antecedent practices were based on mail correspondencetechnologies, with advances in technology, has continued with the use of pre-recorded media,two-way audio, two-way audio with graphics, one-way video, two-way audio / one-wayvideo, two-way audio / video and desktop two-way audio / video technologies (Simonson etal., 2008). The rise of internet has brought out the concept of electronic learning by changing*Correspondency: [email protected]

Problems faced in distance education during Covid-19 Pandemic G.Özüdoğruthe mode of delivery of learning and knowledge (Mahmud, 2010). Although there aresemantic differences between concepts such as distance education, electronic learning,internet-based education and online learning, which have gained ground in the literature in thecourse of time, these concepts are correlated. For example, online learning is a version ofdistance education (Bates, 2018).Together with the development of digital technologies aimed at offering distance courses,new educational opportunities such as open educational resources and massive open onlinecourses have emerged for larger masses to access education (Saykılı, 2018). In today’s digitalage, online learning, blended learning, social media and open learning are criticaldevelopments for an effective teaching (Bates, 2018). Also, the widespread utilization ofmobile learning tools has added a different dimension to distance education. The utilization ofmobile learning tools in distance education has positive impacts on learner’s motivation, selfregulation, control and personalization of learning environment (Sönmez, Göçmez, Uygun &Ataizi, 2018). However, as teaching by using new technologies requires a variety of skills thatmost educators are not familiar with, the educators need to be trained on how to use these newdevices and how to integrate them into their own implementations (Makoe, 2012). In addition,students should be prepared and motivated for distance education lessons that are greatlywidespread and designed in different models (Bertiz & Kocamankaroğlu, 2020).Problems faced in distance educationDistance education offers individuals educational environments independent fromtime and space with the support of advancing web-based platforms and technologies (Bilgiç& Tüzün, 2015). Institutions choose distance education for a number of reasons such asaccessing learning and education, updating skill development, increasing cost effectiveness,increasing the quality of educational structure, improving the capacity of the system ofeducation, balancing inequalities between age groups, providing education to specific targetgroups, providing emergency case training to target groups, expanding the capacity ofeducation in new subject areas, associating working and family life with education and addingan international dimension to education (Moore & Kearsley, 2012). However, institutionssometimes encounter obstacles and problems in technology integration. Ertmer (1999)identified first-order (external) and second-order (internal) barriers to the technologicalintegration. First-order barriers are related with equipment, education, access, time andtechnical support; while second-order barriers (specific to teachers) are related withpedagogy, belief and personal preferences.Davis, Gough and Taylor (2019) stated that student barriers to online learning might bemisinterpretation of expectations, time management and interpersonal communication; whileinstructor barriers might be related to the identification of expectations, providing feedbackand interpersonal relations. O’Doherty, Dromey, Lougheed, Hannigan, Last and McGrath(2018) stated in their research based on the literature that barriers to online learning inmedical training might be time limitations, weak technical skills, inadequate infrastructure,lack of institutional strategies and support and negative attitudes of everyone involved. Burns(2011) mentioned three barriers to the web-based distance education implementations inteacher education: lack of high-speed internet and durable technology, lack of trainer andstudent skills and lack of support services.In the literature, studies on the problems faced in learning environments such as distanceeducation, online learning, electronic learning, are not adequate in number. The relatedParticipatory Educational Research (PER)-322-

Participatory Educational Research (PER), 8 (4);321-333, 1 December 2021studies have been conducted mostly with administrators and managers (Berge & Muilenburg,2000; Bilgiç & Tüzün, 2015; Durak, Çankaya & İzmirli, 2020), parents (Apriyanti, 2020),teachers (Fauzi, Hermavan & Khusuma, 2020; Mailizar, Almanthari, Maulina & Bruce, 2020;Rasmitadila et al., 2020) and students (Botha, 2011; Guven, Kurum & Sağlam, 2012;Leontyeva; 2018; Mahmud, 2010; Muilenburg & Berge, 2005; Özüdoğru & Özüdoğru, 2017).These studies range from kindergarten to higher education, from health education to socialsciences and to teacher education.In the literature, there is a limited number of studies on the problems faced by students,parents, teachers and administrators in distance education during the Covid-19 period.Apriyanti (2020) found in their research that kindergarten and primary school parents faceproblems during the Covid-19 pandemic such as being unable to guide their children to learnand children’s lack of concentration, unwillingness to learn, desire to go to school, inability tolearn online and limited comprehension of the material. Fauzi et al. (2020) found in theirresearch that teachers face problems in the Covid-19 pandemic such as lack of opportunities,network and internet use, planning, implementation and evaluation of learning, andcollaboration with parents. Mailizar et al. (2020) found that teacher, school, curriculum andstudent were the four components of problems experienced by teachers in the Covid-19period. Rasmitadila et al. (2020) found that teachers face problems in distance educationimplemented in the Covid-19 pandemic such as technical barriers, student’s conditioning,student’s participation in education and online education experience.Distance education during the Covid-19 PandemicCoronavirus disease, also known as Covid-19, is a health problem today deeplyaffecting several areas like daily life, working life and the system of education in world. Itfirst appeared in Wuhan City, China in December 2019, World Health Organization (WHO)(2021) declared Covid-19 is a global state of emergency on 30 January 2020 and a globalpandemic on 11 March 2020. In order to reduce the spread of this life-threatening virus,specific limitations and rules such as travel restrictions and closure of restaurants,entertainment venues, theatres and cinemas have been imposed occasionally. One of theselimitations is the prevention of face-to-face education. Distance education implementationshave been used to reduce contact and to continue education. By this way distance educationhas started to be implemented from preschool education to higher education.During the Covid-19 pandemic, institutions, administrators, educators, students and evenparents have unpreparedly found themselves in the distance education process. Transitionfrom face-to-face teaching methods to more indirect methods, has forced schools into a flowof learning which is full of complexities and limitations (Rasmitadila, 2020). This process hashad a great impact on school, teachers and students (Mailizar et al., 2020). In this process,individuals inevitably have faced specific difficulties and obstacles in institutions. Studentshave been affected psychologically by school closures, lack of equipment to participate incourses, being unable to access online materials from home and being unable to leave homefor a long time (Apriyanti, 2020). Also, the inadequate technological infrastructure ofeducational institutions can be considered another factor. Such factors are an obstacle to thesuccess of the education implemented.In order to gain success in distance education, problems should be revealed. Revealing theseproblems is important for removing, reducing or solving the barriers in distance educationimplementations to be conducted in the future. In addition, pre-service teachers may need toParticipatory Educational Research (PER)-323-

Problems faced in distance education during Covid-19 Pandemic G.Özüdoğrucarry out their lessons in distance education in their prospective professional lives. Theirdistance education experiences may affect their attitudes toward future distance education.For this reason, it is important to examine the distance education process. This paper aims toreveal the individual, technological and economic problems faced by pre-service teachers ininstitutions training teachers during the Covid-19 pandemic period. The problems experiencedby pre-service teachers throughout this emergency remote teaching period are not known. Tothat end it would be valuable to know what the pre-service teachers encountered in thissituation. Thereupon the current research problem is as follows:(1) Which problems have pre-service teachers faced in distance education during theCovid-19 pandemic?Materials and methodsModelThe study used the case study method, which is among qualitative research methods.Case study is a qualitative approach that describes a case and reveals the themes of the caseby using multiple sources of information and profoundly collecting information in order toproduce a profound understanding related to a situation in real life, current system or in aspecific time (Creswell, 2013). The case in this study is the distance education process whichpre-service teachers were caught up in unprepared during the Covid-19 pandemic.Study groupStudy group of the present research comprised of 60 second-year pre-service teachersstudying in the faculty of education in a mid-size state university in Turkey during the Springterm of the 2019-2020 academic year. Pre-service teachers were from the departments ofElementary Mathematics Teaching, Science Teaching, Preschool Teaching, ClassroomTeaching, Psychological Counselling and Guidance and Social Studies Teaching. Of theparticipants, 26 were male and 34 were female.EnvironmentDue to the Covid-19 pandemic, distance education has been implemented inuniversities during the spring term of the 2019-2020 academic year since March. In theuniversity included within the scope of the study, the students have been involved in thedistance education process via the learning management system of the university. As asynchronous video conference system has been integrated into the software, live courses arealso available for every lesson. The duration of live courses is 30 minutes for each lesson.These live courses have been recorded and made available to the students from eight p.m.until eight a.m. daily. The hour limit was introduced to prevent a possible over loading on theservers during live lessons. In addition, the learning management system contains featuressuch as adding subjects, adding acquisitions, texting, adding files, sharing materials, sharingannouncements, giving homework and downloading. In the evaluation process, methods suchas homework and exams were also applied via the learning management system. At the end ofthe term, opinions were received from the students regarding the process.Participatory Educational Research (PER)-324-

Participatory Educational Research (PER), 8 (4);321-333, 1 December 2021Data collection toolIn the study the researcher prepared an interview form consisting of open-endedquestion to collect data. The form was created primarily by reviewing the relevant literature.Then a seven-item draft form was created. Opinions regarding the form were received fromtwo experts in the areas of technology and language. After making the specified corrections,the form was applied for trial purposes to two students participating in the distance educationprocess in order to determine whether there were unclear questions. The final version of theform had six questions. The questions on the form were: “1. What did you dislike most aboutthe distance education process?”, “2. Have you experienced any problems related to thedistance education process? If you have, what were these problems?”, “3. Was there anythingmissing in the distance education process? If so, what was it ?”, “4. Would you like your nextcourses to continue to be delivered in the form of distance education? Why?”, “5. What areyour opinions about the simultaneous (live) lessons in distance education?” “6. What are youropinions about the evaluation processes (exam, homework etc.) in distance education?”. Theform was applied based on voluntary principle and online individually. Average time ofanswering was 20 minutes.Data analysisThe content analysis method was used in the data analysis. Content analysis is oftenused to analyze data such as the one from interviews and observations, to systematize andoften quantify data (Fraenkel, Wallen & Hyun, 2012). The data acquired was transcribed bythe researcher. The pre-service teachers were coded as P1, P2, and so on. The data were codedby two coders. A common coding table was created by discussing the different codes. Milesand Huberman’s (1994) formula was used for a consensus between the coders. Afterobtaining adequate amount of consensus between the coders (91%), the researcher continuedthe coding alone based on the common coding table. Miles and Huberman (1994) indicatedthat a consensus of 80% would be acceptable.ResultsIn this study investigating the problems and barriers faced by pre-service teachers in ahigher education institution during the distance education process implemented in the Covid19 pandemic, five themes and 29 codes were revealed as a result of the data analysis. Thethemes revealed in relation to the problems were: “Implementation”, “Student”,“Impossibility”, “Technical” and “Instructor”.Table 1. Themes and codes revealed as a result of the analysisThemeNumber of 5Instructor4Examining Table 1 it is understood that the implementation theme has seven codes, theimpossibility theme has six codes, the technical theme has six codes, the instructor theme hasfour codes and the student theme has seven codes, which were revealed as a result of theanalysis. It makes a total of 29 codes.Participatory Educational Research (PER)-325-

Problems faced in distance education during Covid-19 Pandemic G.ÖzüdoğruProblems related to implementationThe implementation theme obtained as a result of the data analysis represents theproblems related to the implementation of distance education. There are seven codes underthis theme. Frequency indicates the number of participants revealing the relevant code. Table2 demonstrates that the pre-service teachers mainly reported problems such as lack of timespared for live courses (f 45) and excessive workload due to homework (f 34) at the point ofimplementation.Table 2. Codes and frequencies related to the implementation themeThemeImplementationCodeFrequencyLack of time spared for live courses45Excessive workload due to homework34Implementation’s inadequacy for major area courses15Uncertain evaluation system12Lack of time spared for homework8Limited access to registered courses5Lower interaction5Examples to the pre-service teachers’ views on the most frequently encountered problems inthe implementation process are as follows. The pre-service teachers were named as P1, P2,and so on.P10: The course hours should have been longer. As the course was taught too superficially in30 minutes, I had a great difficulty understanding the subjects.P51: The homework was too much. Some of our teachers had given us homework as if we hadno other homework to do. We had a difficulty catching up with them. As the given time wastoo short and the homework was too much, we became exhausted.Problems related to studentsThe student theme obtained as a result of the data analysis represents the problemsindividually faced by students during the distance education process. There are seven codesunder this theme. As can be seen through Table 3 the pre-service teachers mainly reportedindividual problems pertaining to students such as being unable to establish communicationwith friends (f 17) and being unable to be focused (f 13).Table 3. Codes and frequencies related to the student themeThemeStudentCodeFrequencyInability to communicate with friends17Inability to focus13Not feeling the classroom atmosphere10Being not accustomed to the system9Lack of knowledge, skills and attitudes7Feeling the need to socialize6Remaining passive5Examples to views on the individual problems related to students, are as follows:Participatory Educational Research (PER)-326-

Participatory Educational Research (PER), 8 (4);321-333, 1 December 2021P7: Having group homework. We weren’t able to establish a healthy communication withour friends in the group.P39: When we have classes in the virtual environment, I can’t fully concentrate on thelesson. I can’t join the class unless I have the internet, which makes me get estranged fromthe lessons.Problems related to impossibilityThe impossibility theme obtained as a result of the data analysis represents theimpossibilities faced during the distance education process. There are six codes under thistheme. Examining Table 4; the pre-service teachers mainly reported problems related toimpossibilities such as the lack of internet (f 20) and the lack of computer (f 14).Table 4. Codes and frequencies related to the impossibility themeThemeImpossibilityCodeFrequencyLack of internet20Lack of computer14Limited internet12Unsuitable smart phone8Inequality of opportunity7Lack of equipment like microphone, headphones5Examples to the views on the most frequently encountered impossibilities, are as follows.P15: At some point I had a great difficulty because we didn’t have opportunities likeinternet connection. This bothered me a lot. I couldn’t use the outside sources either becauseof the virus, which made me think that I failed in accomplishing my homework.P28: As I have no computer or laptop, I had a difficulty doing my homework on the phone. Ihad no other problems.Technical problemsThe technical problems theme obtained as a result of the data analysis represents thetechnical problems faced during distance education. There are five codes under this theme. Ascan be found through Tale 5 below the pre-service teachers mainly reported technicalproblems such as sound problems (f 11) and connection problems to the live lesson (f 10).Table 5. Codes and frequencies related to the technical themeThemeTechnicalCodeFrequencySound problems11Connection problems to the live lesson10File upload problems9System login problems8Video problems5Codes and frequencies related to the most frequently encountered technical problems, are asfollows:Participatory Educational Research (PER)-327-

Problems faced in distance education during Covid-19 Pandemic G.ÖzüdoğruP26: I occasionally had connection and sound problems.P24: Yes, either the system sent me off during the class or I was unable to log in. The soundhad echoes. It kept coming and going.Problems related to instructorThe instructor theme obtained as a result of the data analysis represents the problemsfaced by pre-service teachers related to the instructor. There are four codes under this theme.According to Table 6the pre-service teachers mainly reported problems related to theirinstructor such as being unable to establish communication with the instructor (f 10) and theinstructor’s lack of knowledge, skills and attitudes regarding the distance education process(f 6).Table 6. Codes and frequencies related to the instructor themeThemeInstructorCodeFrequencyLack of communication10Lack of knowledge, skills and attitudes6Not getting feedback5Being not accustomed to the system5Examples to the views on the most frequently encountered problems related to instructor, areas follows:P9: I wasn’t able to establish communication with the teachers much or receive messages andfeedback related to the course. The live courses had time limitation, which I did not like at all.P29: I had a problem with contacting the instructor. When there was a problem withhomework, I wasn’t able to immediately contact them. I couldn’t report these problems untilthe time of synchronous courses came.Conclusion and DiscussionThe study revealed the problems experienced by pre-service teachers in a highereducation institution during the distance education process implemented due to the Covid-19pandemic. In the study, which was carried out with a qualitative approach, the problems facedby the pre-service teachers were collected under the themes of implementation, student,impossibility, technical and instructor. Under each theme were relevant codes. Similarly thestudy conducted by Mailizar et al. (2020) with teachers in the Covid-19 pandemic,approached the barriers at four components as teacher, school, curriculum and student.Rasmitadila et al. (2020) found the difficulties faced by teachers during distance education inthe Covid-19 pandemic as technical barriers, student’s conditioning, student’s participation ineducation and online education experience. Fauzi et al. (2020) demonstrated that teachersexperience a variety of problems during the Covid-19 pandemic such as lack of opportunitiesin online learning applications, network and internet use, teacher’s planning, implementationand evaluation and collaboration with parents.The first of the themes revealed at the end of the study was implementation. At the point ofthe implementation of distance education, the pre-service teachers stated that theyexperienced problems such as lack of time spared for live courses, excessive work load due tohomework, implementation’s inadequacy for major area courses, ambiguous evaluationParticipatory Educational Research (PER)-328-

Participatory Educational Research (PER), 8 (4);321-333, 1 December 2021system, lack of time spared for homework, limited access to registered courses and lowerinteraction. Having 30-minute live courses a week during distance education, might have leftthe processes of feedback, interaction and question-answer incomplete. Videoimplementations are important for communication and feedback in terms of addressing theemotional needs of students during Covid-19 (Kaplan-Rakowski, 2020). In addition, theevaluation was mainly conducted as homework and while there used to be a midterm and afinal exam during face-to-face education, there came two midterm exams and a final exam,which led to excessive work-load. Also, in homework the instructors did not share theevaluation rubric with the students, which caused the students to have uncertainties about theevaluation. The live courses recorded were kept open from eight p.m. until eight a.m. toprevent a possible over loading on the servers during the class, which was evaluated as anaccess limit for the students. Similarly, Mahmud (2010) found that university studentsconsider the difficulty of interaction a barrier to distance education.The second of the themes revealed at the end of the study was student. The student themecontains problems faced by pre-service teachers individually. These problems are beingunable to establish communication with friends, being unable to focus, not feeling theclassroom atmosphere, being not accustomed to the system, lack of knowledge, skills andattitudes, feeling the need to socialize and remaining passive. A variety of training andorientation programs can be conducted to solve the problems related to students. Whenstudents are transferred from face-to-face education to a classroom supported by specifictechnologies for distance education, they will need an orientation to get used to theinstructor’s expectations as much as they need course materials and equipment (Davis et al.,2019). Similarly, Mahmud (2010) found that university students consider the unwillingness tochange environment in distance education a barrier to distance education. Davis et al. (2019)found the student barriers in online learning to be a misinterpretation of expectations, timemanagement and interpersonal communication. Mailizar et al. (2020) found in their researchthat the lack of knowledge, skills and devices, internet connection, irrelevance and issues withsystem access were the problems experienced by teachers and students in the Covid-19pandemic.The third of the themes revealed at the end of the study was impossibility. The impossibilitiesexperienced by pre-service teachers in the process were lack of internet, lack of computer,limited internet, unsuitable smart phone for the courses, inequality of opportunity and lack ofequipment like microphone and headphones. Pre-service teachers were caught up unpreparedin this process and had to participate with limited opportunities. In addition, while some preservice teachers were in the city centre, some tried to participate from villages with variousinternet problems. Likewise, whereas some of them participated with their computers andprepared homework, some tried to participate in the classes and prepare homework byconnecting via phones or tablets with inadequate equipment. These might have also causedthem to evaluate as inequalities of impossibility. Similarly, Apriyanti (2020) stated that lackof internet access and digital tools in villages or rural areas was a barrier to online courses.Also, Mahmud (2010) found that university students consider the scarcity of information andcommunication technologies resources a barrier to distance education.Another theme revealed at the end of the study was technical problems. They were live courseconnection problems, file upload problems, system login problems, video problems. Theseproblems may have arised from the devices used by the pre-service teachers, internet speedand capacity or system-related current moods. Mahmud also (2010) found that universitystudents consider the internet connection problems a barrier to distance education.Participatory Educational Research (PER)-329-

Problems faced in distance education during Covid-19 Pandemic G.ÖzüdoğruThe last of the study themes was related to instructors. They were lack of communication,being unable to receive feedback, lack of knowledge, skills and attitudes and not beingaccustomed to the system. Another group of stakeholders caught up unprepared in thedistance education system is instructors. Durak, Çankaya and İzmirli (2020) concluded thatthe most difficult situation was the training of instructors in the distance education process inhigher education institutions during the Covid-19 pandemic period. Mailizar et al. (2020)stated that teachers experience problems in the Covid-19 pandemic in regard to knowledge,skill, self-confidence, experience, efficacy and convenience. Also, Makoe (2012) found intheir research that instructors being accustomed to the former teaching methods and their lackof teaching design speciality for new methods and lack of technological knowledge and skillswere barriers to their technological integration. Davis, Gough and Taylor (2019) determinedthe barriers related to instructors in online learning are about establishing expectations,providing feedback and interpersonal relations. Most instructors have started to experimentwith a new approach as they

from face-to-face teaching methods to more indirect methods, has forced schools into a flow of learning which is full of complexities and limitations (Rasmitadila, 2020). This process has had a great impact on school, teachers and students (Mailizar et al., 2020). In this process,