Developing open online learning resources: Lessons from a short course on the control of blindness from diabetic retinopathy.

Mwangi N, Minnies D, Parsley S, Patel D, Gichuhi S, Muthami L, Moorman C, Macleod D, Bascaran C, Foster A. "Developing open online learning resources: Lessons from a short course on the control of blindness from diabetic retinopathy.". In: College of Ophthalmologists in Eastern Central & Southern Africa (COECSA). Addis Ababa; 2018.

Date Presented:

31st Aug 2018


Background: A need identified during another study prompted the development of the open online course on control of blindness from diabetic retinopathy. In our technological age, potential for learning online can provide a unique opportunity to develop context-specific content for local relevance. We report on the lessons learnt in the development of this short online course for an international audience of diverse eye care practitioners.

Methods: We developed this online short course through a formal planning process facilitated by UNESCO. The participants included eye health educators, learning designers, and content experts. The course curriculum was informed by learning from an ongoing doctorate program, as well as by clinical, public health and educational experience.

Results: Lessons learnt include:
1. Identifying the need and content – Learning and research from a doctorate research program can inform content development.
2. Identifying the relevance – the content needs to be customized for the target audience and local context.
3. Developing the learning design – promoting digital teaching skills and co-creation of content are valuable entry points.
4. Accommodating appropriate peer review and mentorship may enhance learning and quality assurance.
5. Resource planning activities need to be documented as a learning point.
6. There are significant costs in course development, such as time spent in content development, and ongoing maintenance eg maintaining the online platform.
7. Sources of quality open access resources in eye care are limited.

Conclusion: Content development is a unique learning experience, and it is essential to develop and support context specific learning resources. Open educational practice supports a collaborative process that enhances relevance and quality of training. The online format emphasizes the importance of learning design requirements to bridge the transactional distance between the participant and the educator.

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