1 Department of Medical Education, Faculty of Medicine, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

2 Department of Medical Education, School of Medicine, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran;

3 Department of e-learning, Virtual School, Tehran University of Medical Sciences,Tehran, Iran

4 Department of Nursing and Midwifery, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

5 Nutrition Research Center, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran

6 Hematology and Oncology Department, Imam Khomeini Hospital, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran


Introduction: There is a growing trend in online education coursesin higher education institutes. Previous studies have shown thathigh levels of self-direction are essential for successful onlinelearning. The present study aims to investigate challenges of andbarriers to self-directed virtual-learning among postgraduatestudents of medical sciences.Methods: 23 postgraduate virtual students of medical sciences inIran, collected through maximum variation purposive samplingand semi-structured interviews, served as the sample of thisstudy. The collected data were analyzed using the inductivecontent analysis method.Results: Three themes and six sub-themes were identified asbarriers to self-directed learning in virtual education, includingcognitive barriers (information overload and lack of focus onlearning or mind wondering), communication barriers (inadequatecoping skills and inadequate writing skills) and educationalenvironment barriers (heavy workload and role ambiguity).Conclusion: By the importance of self-direction in onlineeducation, the present study results can be used by virtualeducation planners in the review and design of courses, so as toadequately equip students, obviate barriers to self-directed virtualeducation, and ultimately train highly self-directed learners inonline medical education.Keywords: Medical education; Graduate medical education; Technology; Learning