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The use of technology enhanced learning in health research capacity development: lessons from a cross country research partnership.

Byrne E, Donaldson L, Manda-Taylor L, Brugha R, Matthews A, MacDonald S, Mwapasa V, Petersen M, Walsh A - Global Health (2016)

Bottom Line: Capacity can be built in health research through blended learning programmes.In relation to transferability, the support required institutionally for technology enhanced learning needs to be conceptualised differently from support for face-to-face teaching.Additionally, differences in pedagogical approaches and styles between institutions, as well as existing social norms and values around communication, need to be embedded in the content development if the material is to be used beyond the pilot resource-intensive phase of a project.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin, Ireland. elainebyrne2@rcsi.ie.

ABSTRACT

Background: With the recognition of the need for research capacity strengthening for advancing health and development, this research capacity article explores the use of technology enhanced learning in the delivery of a collaborative postgraduate blended Master's degree in Malawi. Two research questions are addressed: (i) Can technology enhanced learning be used to develop health research capacity?, and: (ii) How can learning content be designed that is transferrable across different contexts?

Methods: An explanatory sequential mixed methods design was adopted for the evaluation of technology enhanced learning in the Masters programme. A number of online surveys were administered, student participation in online activities monitored and an independent evaluation of the programme conducted.

Results: Remote collaboration and engagement are paramount in the design of a blended learning programme and support was needed for selecting the most appropriate technical tools. Internet access proved problematic despite developing the content around low bandwidth availability and training was required for students and teachers/trainers on the tools used. Varying degrees of engagement with the tools used was recorded, and the support of a learning technologist was needed to navigate through challenges faced.

Conclusion: Capacity can be built in health research through blended learning programmes. In relation to transferability, the support required institutionally for technology enhanced learning needs to be conceptualised differently from support for face-to-face teaching. Additionally, differences in pedagogical approaches and styles between institutions, as well as existing social norms and values around communication, need to be embedded in the content development if the material is to be used beyond the pilot resource-intensive phase of a project.

No MeSH data available.


Number of students indicating frequency of access to reliable internet connectivity at baseline
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Fig2: Number of students indicating frequency of access to reliable internet connectivity at baseline

Mentions: The baseline resource survey indicated that there was adequate internet bandwidth to enable students to access course materials online, as Figs. 1 and 2 indicate. However, the reality in delivering learning online proved to be different. From the outset the COSYST project team were aware that the infrastructure in Malawi was likely to be weak for online delivery of medium to high bandwidth content, such as streaming videos or synchronous activities. However, it only came to attention in the first face-to-face session that students did not have reliable access to the internet. Students access was restricted to office hours, and they had no access when they were ‘in the field’ (i.e. running community-based projects) or at home. Perhaps students felt that if they had raised this in the baseline, they might not have been selected for the course. Alternatively, the students had genuinely felt that the limited access they had to the internet was adequate for an MSc until they realised what was practically required.


The use of technology enhanced learning in health research capacity development: lessons from a cross country research partnership.

Byrne E, Donaldson L, Manda-Taylor L, Brugha R, Matthews A, MacDonald S, Mwapasa V, Petersen M, Walsh A - Global Health (2016)

Number of students indicating frequency of access to reliable internet connectivity at baseline
© Copyright Policy - OpenAccess
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License 1 - License 2
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4862035&req=5

Fig2: Number of students indicating frequency of access to reliable internet connectivity at baseline
Mentions: The baseline resource survey indicated that there was adequate internet bandwidth to enable students to access course materials online, as Figs. 1 and 2 indicate. However, the reality in delivering learning online proved to be different. From the outset the COSYST project team were aware that the infrastructure in Malawi was likely to be weak for online delivery of medium to high bandwidth content, such as streaming videos or synchronous activities. However, it only came to attention in the first face-to-face session that students did not have reliable access to the internet. Students access was restricted to office hours, and they had no access when they were ‘in the field’ (i.e. running community-based projects) or at home. Perhaps students felt that if they had raised this in the baseline, they might not have been selected for the course. Alternatively, the students had genuinely felt that the limited access they had to the internet was adequate for an MSc until they realised what was practically required.

Bottom Line: Capacity can be built in health research through blended learning programmes.In relation to transferability, the support required institutionally for technology enhanced learning needs to be conceptualised differently from support for face-to-face teaching.Additionally, differences in pedagogical approaches and styles between institutions, as well as existing social norms and values around communication, need to be embedded in the content development if the material is to be used beyond the pilot resource-intensive phase of a project.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin, Ireland. elainebyrne2@rcsi.ie.

ABSTRACT

Background: With the recognition of the need for research capacity strengthening for advancing health and development, this research capacity article explores the use of technology enhanced learning in the delivery of a collaborative postgraduate blended Master's degree in Malawi. Two research questions are addressed: (i) Can technology enhanced learning be used to develop health research capacity?, and: (ii) How can learning content be designed that is transferrable across different contexts?

Methods: An explanatory sequential mixed methods design was adopted for the evaluation of technology enhanced learning in the Masters programme. A number of online surveys were administered, student participation in online activities monitored and an independent evaluation of the programme conducted.

Results: Remote collaboration and engagement are paramount in the design of a blended learning programme and support was needed for selecting the most appropriate technical tools. Internet access proved problematic despite developing the content around low bandwidth availability and training was required for students and teachers/trainers on the tools used. Varying degrees of engagement with the tools used was recorded, and the support of a learning technologist was needed to navigate through challenges faced.

Conclusion: Capacity can be built in health research through blended learning programmes. In relation to transferability, the support required institutionally for technology enhanced learning needs to be conceptualised differently from support for face-to-face teaching. Additionally, differences in pedagogical approaches and styles between institutions, as well as existing social norms and values around communication, need to be embedded in the content development if the material is to be used beyond the pilot resource-intensive phase of a project.

No MeSH data available.