Adapting teaching and learning in times of COVID-19: a comparative assessment among higher education institutions in a global health network in 2020

Dewi Ismajani Puradiredja, Linda Kintu-Sempa, Carola Eyber, Ralf Weigel, Bruno Broucker, Marie Lindkvist, Nuria Casamitjana, Rodney Reynolds, Hans-Friedemann Klinkel, Alberto Matteelli, Guenter Froeschl

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Background This research examines the ways in which higher education institutions (HEIs) across the tropEd Network for Education in International Health (tropEd) began to adapt their teaching and learning approaches in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Already during this early phase of the pandemic HEIs' responses demonstrate global health approaches emphasising cooperation and communication, rather than national health driven strategies that emphasise quarantine and control. Key lessons learnt for multiple dimensions of teaching and learning in global health are thus identified, and challenges and opportunities discussed. Methods Data collection includes a cross-sectional online survey among tropEd member institutions (n = 19) in mid-2020, and a complementary set of open-ended questions generating free-text responses (n = 9). Quantitative data were analysed using descriptive statistics, textual data were analysed using a Framework Analysis approach. Results While early on in the pandemic the focus was on a quick emergency switch to online teaching formats to ensure short-term continuity, and developing the administrative and didactic competence and confidence in digital teaching, there is already recognition among HEIs of the necessity for more fundamental quality and longer-term reforms in higher education in global health. Alongside practical concerns about the limitations of digital teaching, and declines in student numbers, there is a growing awareness of opportunities in terms of inclusivity, the necessity of cross-border cooperation, and a global health approach. The extent to which the lack of physical mobility impacts HEI programmes in global health is debated. Conclusion The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about preventive measures that have had a considerable impact on various dimensions of academic teaching in global health. Going forward, international HEIs' experiences and response strategies can help generate important lessons for academic institutions across different settings worldwide.

Original languageEnglish
Article number507
JournalMedical Education
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)507
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • COVID-19/epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Learning
  • Pandemics


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