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South African and German students and professors jointly develop new e-learning concept

South African and German students and professors
(C) Hochschule Neu-Ulm – University of Applied Science

Infectious diseases in particular continue to pose a major challenge in South Africa. The key topic of innovation in the healthcare industry is tackling the question of which technical innovations can be used to help patients and medical staff. One example that can offer practical assistance is an e-learning concept developed by South African and German students together with their professors. The programme enables healthcare workers in the townships (who make a crucial contribution in the fight against HIV and tuberculosis) to keep themselves constantly abreast of the latest developments and methods.

Within the context of a project that took place between 21 and 25 May 2012, students and their professors determined the requirements and framework conditions of a “mobile learning course” for the healthcare workers treating patients with HIV and tuberculosis in the townships of Cape Town.

The basis of the scientific work was a six-stage model, which considered the real needs of the target group as well as the specific technical and organisational conditions. The work was carried out in four project groups: the “Forms of learning” team first conducted interviews with the healthcare workers to analyse their preferred learning methods and requirements, as well as their individual IT skills. Following on from this work, the “Learning techniques” team drew up recommendations for the effective use of e-learning in different work situations. In parallel to this, the “Prototypes” team tested medical course models on various mobile devices. The “Organisation and benchmarking” team concentrated on the aspect of sustainability. The researchers compared the different learning platforms of South African and international institutions for their suitability and the complexity of their content. Besides specific expert knowledge, the imparting of basic knowledge in the areas of economics and entrepreneurship was also investigated. This enables the healthcare workers to help their patients achieve a long-term income and therefore prospects in life.

Based on all the information gathered, the researchers developed individually tailored learning concepts that help individuals to continue their studies in a straightforward, effective and mobile way. This not only makes the work of the local healthcare workers easier: in practice, it is also of particular benefit to the patients, who can be treated using the latest methods in future.

There are plans to continue this project in order to establish an extensive e-learning programme. This will include building up a network of governmental and non-governmental organisations.