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Advantages of online training courses

Publication date: Oct 12, 2020

Like many organisations our training courses are now almost exclusively presented online, which has its drawbacks, and its advantages. Going online forced us to speed up the process of optimizing our learning materials for that setting, and it also allows us to offer our training courses to an audience located anywhere in Europe.

The challenges of going online

When it comes to the provision of training courses I consider the following to be the optimal learning format:
  • pre-course e-learning videos/modules, to ensure familiarity with the prerequisite knowledge and to cover some new material, followed by
  • a face to face training course, with plenty of hands-on and group based exercises, followed by
  • post-course e-learning videos/modules, focused both on refreshing the material covered during the training course, as well as on advanced topics not covered during the training course itself.

However, even before Corona I realised this isn't always feasible: circumstances (e.g. travel/budget constraints, or geographic distribution of learners) may require the online delivery of a course. However, not all things that are possible in a face to face classroom can be replicated on-line, just as not all things that are possible on-line can be replicated in a face to face setting.

Using tools like Zoom (and its breakout room feature) and MURAL (a collaborative whiteboard) the optimal online learning format (currently, we're still exploring new options) looks like this:

  • pre-course e-learning videos/modules, to ensure familiarity with the prerequisite knowledge and to cover some new material, followed by
  • course delivery is spread over multiple days, with 4 to 5 hour online sessions each day, to avoid information overload and to allow participants to deal with other aspects of their day job. Theoretical modules are interspersed with plenty of hands-on/group based exercises.
  • at the end of each day the attendees are provided with e-learning videos/modules and exercises. This self-study material will be reviewed during the first session of the next day.
  • post-course e-learning videos/modules, focused both on refreshing the material covered during the training course, as well as on advanced topics not covered during the training course itself.

One thing we've decided to do is to record brief statements by HL7/IHE/DICOM pundits which can be played to the attendees of a course once they've seen a theoretical module, to emphasize various aspects of the material covered. For example, the video below is played to attendees of the HL7 version 2 training course, to reassure them that HL7 version 2 won't be replaced by FHIR anytime soon:

European courses

If we're having to present our courses online, then we might as well offer them at the European level, allowing any (english speaking) attendees from anywhere in Europe to sign up. For 2021 I expect that all of our courses will be delivered online. In collaboration with HL7 UK, MedicalPHIT, Firely and others we're now able to offer the following online courses:

We'll have to see what happens once this pandemic subsides: will we be going back to face to face delivery? Or will this pandemic have increased the (relatively low) acceptance of online training courses in Europe? Time will tell. Some of the lessons learned in further optimizjng the training material for online delivey will be applicable in face to face training courses as well.

Changes

Some of us have been directly, or indirectly, hit by this pandemic. It'll pass, and cause all sorts of societal changes. I'm sure humans will adapt in all sorts of strange ways. So let's improvise, and adapt.

-Rene

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About Ringholm bv

Ringholm bv is a group of European experts in the field of messaging standards and systems integration in healthcare IT. We provide the industry's most advanced training courses and consulting on healthcare information exchange standards.
See http://www.ringholm.com or call +31 33 7 630 636 for additional information.
Rene's Column (English) Rene is the Tutor-in-chief of Ringholm.
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