BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic has increased utilization of educational technology for surgical education. Our aim was to determine attitudes and behaviors of surgical education champions towards virtual educational platforms and learner engagement.

METHODS: An electronic survey was distributed to all Association of Surgical Education members addressing i) methods of engagement in virtual learning ii) ways to improve engagement and iii) what influences engagement. Stratified analysis was used to evaluate differences in responses by age, gender, level of training and specialty.

RESULTS: 154 ASE members completed the survey (13% response rate). 88% respondents accessed virtual learning events at home. Most (87%) had joined a virtual learning event and then participated in another activity. 1 in 5 who did this did so "always" or "often". Female respondents were more likely than males to join audio and then participate in another activity (62.3% v 37.7%, p = 0.04).

CONCLUSIONS: Virtual platforms do not automatically translate into increased learner engagement. Careful design of educational strategies is essential to increase and maintain learner engagement when utilizing virtual surgical education.

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American journal of surgery