(PRESS RELEASE) NEW YORK - Orbis, a non-profit involved in the prevention and treatment of avoidable blindness, launched three new eLearning courses on Cybersight, Orbis’ online training and mentorship telemedicine platform for eye health professionals in low- and middle-income countries.
The courses — “Fundamentals in MSICS,” “Fundamentals of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus” and “Ophthalmic Nursing Fundamentals” —are firsts in a series designed to cover fundamentals across ophthalmic disciplines and subspecialties.
The courses are designed with curriculum modeled under blended learning: an approach which will allow educators and residency program directors to combine online content with in-person hands-on skills training sessions, including volunteer faculty on the Orbis Flying Eye Hospital and in local hospitals.
Studies show that the blended learning approach improves student learning outcomes compared to any other method. This is particularly relevant in the case where students are required to have practical hands-on skills, with evidence suggesting that watching a task repeatedly helps with learning the technique or skill being demonstrated.
“At Orbis, we’ve been using Cybersight, the Flying Eye Hospital, and hospital based trainings as distinctive platforms to build of the skills of eye care teams around the world,” said Amelia Geary, director, program development and quality. “Orbis has now started creating course content that can stand alone for online learners and can be accessed from anywhere, but is best when paired with hands-on training in a blended learning approach.”
These courses combine narrative, medical art and images, demonstration and surgical videos to optimize the learning experience. They also include downloadable articles, guidelines and practice manuals for reference and educational materials. Several modules make up one course, so that one course can be used in three ways: as the full blended course with in-person and online training, all modules online for a certificate, or one specific module.
“This flexible approach allows us to scale up the impact of our work by not only improving learning outcomes in our existing projects, but also creating content that is applicable and accessible to medical professionals in parts of the world we cannot reach in person, including some hard-to-reach areas and conflict zones,” Geary said.
Orbis has already put this practice into place by partnering with the International Council of Ophthalmology to deliver an online Faculty Development Program that will include usage of the MSICS (manual small incision cataract surgery) blended-learning curriculum in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country where Orbis doesn’t currently have any active projects. Blended courses will also begin in Bolivia in March, where Orbis partners with the National Institute of Ophthalmology. The first blended course in pediatrics will also be piloted in Ethiopia later this year.
The Alcon Foundation, a longtime global corporate partner of Orbis, generously funded both the pediatrics and nursing courses and is providing funding for the development of “Fundamentals in Phacoemulsification” and “Fundamentals in Glaucoma” courses allotted for 2018.
“We believe that education and training are critical to increasing sustainable access to care,” said Melissa Thompson, Alcon Foundation president. “For nearly 40 years, we have been proud supporters of Orbis’ innovative training and service delivery programs, and we are excited to see the impact of these telemedicine courses.”
Anyone can register for an account, after which the curricula are made available on the Cybersight library, in the Ophthalmic Educators’ folder. Competency assessments, adapted from the ICO-OSCARS that can assist with evaluation of capacity building efforts, are also included.
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