LIDC’s new report, ‘Distance Learning for Health: What works’ by Chris Joynes, presents findings from a global review of distance learning programmes for medical professionals in low and middle income countries.
Distance learning comes out of the report as one of the possible modes of training delivery, either as a stand-alone or as part of blended learning, offering a range of unique benefits, such as:
• increased access to training for health workers;
• training compatible with on-going provision of community healthcare.
As such, distance learning has the potential to help remedy the crisis-level shortage of health workers internationally, contributing to an increase in the number of health workers and strengthening the capacity of health systems for better service delivery.
The review shows that purely distance learning programmes are rare; most combine face-to-face, distance learning and blended modes, and also employ elements of self-study and work-based learning. Most distance learning programmes for health workers make use of ICTs in combination with traditional media, but there are severe technological constraints in low-resource contexts.
Planning distance learning programmes for health workers in low and middle income countries must take into account existing infrastructure and needs of learners, and must seek integration with the health system at large.
The review has uncovered a lack of systematic evidence of impact of distance learning for health.
‘There is a need for a more systematic approach to evaluating the impact of distance learning on health workers’ performance and health outcomes.’ – says Chris Joynes, the author of the review.
The report was launched at the occasion of the LIDC-3ie seminar ‘What works in international development? Internet-based medical education: findings and lessons from a realist review.’
Download the report in sections: