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Using the Internet to teach health informatics: a case study.

Parry D - J. Med. Internet Res. (2001 Jul-Sep)

Bottom Line: To be successful, such a program must allow currently-employed students with significant work and family commitments to enroll.The aim was to successfully create and teach a distance program in health informatics for the New Zealand environment.Despite these challenges, the use of Internet technology has been interesting for both staff and students, and a worthwhile alternative for delivering educational material and advice to students working from their own homes.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: Business Faculty, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand. dave.parry@aut.ac.nz

ABSTRACT

Background: It is becoming increasingly important for health professionals to have an understanding of health informatics. Education in this area must support not only undergraduate students but also the many workers who graduated before informatics education was available in the undergraduate program. To be successful, such a program must allow currently-employed students with significant work and family commitments to enroll.

Objectives: The aim was to successfully create and teach a distance program in health informatics for the New Zealand environment.

Methods: Our students are primarily health professionals in full time employment. About 50% are doctors, about 25% nurses, and the rest include dentists, physiotherapists, and medical managers. Course material was delivered via the World Wide Web and CD-ROM. Communication between students and faculty, both synchronous and asynchronous, was carried out via the Internet.

Results: We have designed and taught a postgraduate Diploma of Health Informatics program using the Internet as a major communication medium. The course has been running since July 1998 and the first 10 students graduated in July 2000. About 45 students are currently enrolled in the course; we have had a dropout rate of 15% and a failure rate of 5%. Comparable dropout figures are hard to obtain, but a recent review has suggested that failure-to-complete rates of 30% to 33% may be expected.

Conclusions: Internet technology has provided an exciting educational challenge and opportunity. Providing a web-based health informatics course has not been without its frustrations and problems, including software compatibility issues, bandwidth limitations, and the rapid change in software and hardware. Despite these challenges, the use of Internet technology has been interesting for both staff and students, and a worthwhile alternative for delivering educational material and advice to students working from their own homes.

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BSCW screen shot
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figure3: BSCW screen shot

Mentions: The majority of the asynchronous work was done using e-mail which, for the University of Otago system, is limited to messages less than or equal to 1 Megabyte (MB). Although we set up some newsgroups, the majority of document sharing and threaded discussions took place via BSCW, BSCW was developed by the German Institute for Information Technology [8] and is free for use by educational institutions. BSCW is a collection of scripts written in the Python programming language that reside on a World Wide Web (WWW) server and allow secure file storage that is accessed via Web pages. One of the most useful features of BSCW is the ability to "version" a document. This allows changes to be made, while still allowing access to the original document and intermediate versions. Access control allows the staff to limit what each user of BSCW can see - for example, discussion groups, a software archive, and the user's project area -with appropriate rights of access (for example, read, write, or delete). The teaching staff has access to all areas including the definitive course-production documents, student results, and administrative areas. A typical BSCW screen shot is shown in Figure 3.


Using the Internet to teach health informatics: a case study.

Parry D - J. Med. Internet Res. (2001 Jul-Sep)

BSCW screen shot
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC1761904&req=5

figure3: BSCW screen shot
Mentions: The majority of the asynchronous work was done using e-mail which, for the University of Otago system, is limited to messages less than or equal to 1 Megabyte (MB). Although we set up some newsgroups, the majority of document sharing and threaded discussions took place via BSCW, BSCW was developed by the German Institute for Information Technology [8] and is free for use by educational institutions. BSCW is a collection of scripts written in the Python programming language that reside on a World Wide Web (WWW) server and allow secure file storage that is accessed via Web pages. One of the most useful features of BSCW is the ability to "version" a document. This allows changes to be made, while still allowing access to the original document and intermediate versions. Access control allows the staff to limit what each user of BSCW can see - for example, discussion groups, a software archive, and the user's project area -with appropriate rights of access (for example, read, write, or delete). The teaching staff has access to all areas including the definitive course-production documents, student results, and administrative areas. A typical BSCW screen shot is shown in Figure 3.

Bottom Line: To be successful, such a program must allow currently-employed students with significant work and family commitments to enroll.The aim was to successfully create and teach a distance program in health informatics for the New Zealand environment.Despite these challenges, the use of Internet technology has been interesting for both staff and students, and a worthwhile alternative for delivering educational material and advice to students working from their own homes.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: Business Faculty, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand. dave.parry@aut.ac.nz

ABSTRACT

Background: It is becoming increasingly important for health professionals to have an understanding of health informatics. Education in this area must support not only undergraduate students but also the many workers who graduated before informatics education was available in the undergraduate program. To be successful, such a program must allow currently-employed students with significant work and family commitments to enroll.

Objectives: The aim was to successfully create and teach a distance program in health informatics for the New Zealand environment.

Methods: Our students are primarily health professionals in full time employment. About 50% are doctors, about 25% nurses, and the rest include dentists, physiotherapists, and medical managers. Course material was delivered via the World Wide Web and CD-ROM. Communication between students and faculty, both synchronous and asynchronous, was carried out via the Internet.

Results: We have designed and taught a postgraduate Diploma of Health Informatics program using the Internet as a major communication medium. The course has been running since July 1998 and the first 10 students graduated in July 2000. About 45 students are currently enrolled in the course; we have had a dropout rate of 15% and a failure rate of 5%. Comparable dropout figures are hard to obtain, but a recent review has suggested that failure-to-complete rates of 30% to 33% may be expected.

Conclusions: Internet technology has provided an exciting educational challenge and opportunity. Providing a web-based health informatics course has not been without its frustrations and problems, including software compatibility issues, bandwidth limitations, and the rapid change in software and hardware. Despite these challenges, the use of Internet technology has been interesting for both staff and students, and a worthwhile alternative for delivering educational material and advice to students working from their own homes.

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