Temporary Transitions to Online Problem-based Learning: Advice for Tutors and Learners


  • Dervla Kelly School of Medicine, University of Limerick https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9836-5400
  • Clare Conway School of Medicine, University of Limerick
  • Sarah Harney School of Medicine, University of Limerick
  • Helena McKeague School of Medicine, University of Limerick




We provide a narrative review of the crucial elements for online Problem Based Learning (PBL) and a reflective overview of factors to consider when temporarily moving to online tutorials, forming a practical guide for educators in the health professions and beyond. We give general set-up advice based on the literature and our own recent experience (tutor and learner observational feedback, departmental meeting notes, newly-developed written resources and performance reports) of transitioning between temporary online PBL and face-to-face PBL but note that the majority of this advice translates easily to many types of virtual, interactive tutorial. We also include contextual evidence and theories from existing literature, with a focus on online PBL facilitation, learning and quality assurance. Despite widespread implementation of online teaching, there remain unanswered questions about whether deep learning occurs. The focus of this reflective paper is to better align online PBL practice with the principles of contextual, active, collaborative and self-directed learning and learning issues to be pursued.