Revisiting early online learning experiences amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Indonesia: Benefits, barriers, and impact on pharmacy student learning outcomes


  • Abdul Rahem Universitas Airlangga, Surabaya, Indonesia
  • Ach Syahrir Universitas Islam Negeri, Malang, Indonesia
  • Hasan Ismail Universitas Airlangga, Surabaya & STIKES Borneo Lestari, Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan, Indonesia
  • Andi Hermansyah Universitas Airlangga, Surabaya, Indonesia



COVID-19, Health education, Online learning, Pharmacy student


Background: The coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) imposed dramatic changes on pharmacy education. On-campus educational activities were suspended and transformed into online learning. Several studies reported experiences with online learning, yet few evaluated overall student acceptance and achievement of online learning.   

Objective: This study aimed to explore the benefits, barriers, pharmacy student learning achievement, and their recommendation towards an online learning model.  

Methods: A survey was conducted among 1,658 pharmacy students from 28 provinces in Indonesia using an online questionnaire that passed validity and reliability testing. Descriptive analyses were conducted subsequently.    

Results: Of the total sample, 85% viewed that online learning was the compelling option to continue education due to the COVID-19 travel restriction. Poor internet connectivity was the most relevant hurdle reported by two-thirds of respondents. Learning achievement was negatively affected, as the majority reported poor ability to understand the course material from lectures and laboratory practicum. In addition, the lack of class engagement was evident as students and lecturers were not prepared and adapted for virtual interaction.     

Conclusion: Online learning is a feasible method in the short term as it is practical and prevents COVID-19’s spread. However, this may be problematic in the longer term since it has negatively affected students’ overall performance. Some improvements can be undertaken, such as creating an engaging discussion during virtual teaching in combination with investments in better internet networks and computer access.

Author Biographies

Abdul Rahem, Universitas Airlangga, Surabaya, Indonesia

Faculty of pharmacy

Ach Syahrir, Universitas Islam Negeri, Malang, Indonesia

Pharmacy Study Programme

Hasan Ismail, Universitas Airlangga, Surabaya & STIKES Borneo Lestari, Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan, Indonesia

Doctoral Programme Student, Faculty of Pharmacy & Pharmacy Study Programme

Andi Hermansyah, Universitas Airlangga, Surabaya, Indonesia

Faculty of pharmacy


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How to Cite

Rahem, A., Syahrir, A., Ismail, H., & Hermansyah, A. (2022). Revisiting early online learning experiences amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Indonesia: Benefits, barriers, and impact on pharmacy student learning outcomes. Pharmacy Education, 22(1), p. 989–996.



Research Article