E-learning in medical education in resource constrained low- and middle-income countries

Seble Frehywot, Yianna Vovides, Zohray Talib, Nadia Mikhail, Heather Ross, Hannah Wohltjen, Selam Bedada, Kristine Korhumel, Abdel Karim Koumare, James Scott

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Abstract

Background: In the face of severe faculty shortages in resource-constrained countries, medical schools look to e-learning for improved access to medical education. This paper summarizes the literature on e-learning in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC), and presents the spectrum of tools and strategies used.Methods: Researchers reviewed literature using terms related to e-learning and pre-service education of health professionals in LMIC. Search terms were connected using the Boolean Operators " AND" and " OR" to capture all relevant article suggestions. Using standard decision criteria, reviewers narrowed the article suggestions to a final 124 relevant articles.Results: Of the relevant articles found, most referred to e-learning in Brazil (14 articles), India (14), Egypt (10) and South Africa (10). While e-learning has been used by a variety of health workers in LMICs, the majority (58%) reported on physician training, while 24% focused on nursing, pharmacy and dentistry training. Although reasons for investing in e-learning varied, expanded access to education was at the core of e-learning implementation which included providing supplementary tools to support faculty in their teaching, expanding the pool of faculty by connecting to partner and/or community teaching sites, and sharing of digital resources for use by students. E-learning in medical education takes many forms. Blended learning approaches were the most common methodology presented (49 articles) of which computer-assisted learning (CAL) comprised the majority (45 articles). Other approaches included simulations and the use of multimedia software (20 articles), web-based learning (14 articles), and eTutor/eMentor programs (3 articles). Of the 69 articles that evaluated the effectiveness of e-learning tools, 35 studies compared outcomes between e-learning and other approaches, while 34 studies qualitatively analyzed student and faculty attitudes toward e-learning modalities.Conclusions: E-learning in medical education is a means to an end, rather than the end in itself. Utilizing e-learning can result in greater educational opportunities for students while simultaneously enhancing faculty effectiveness and efficiency. However, this potential of e-learning assumes a certain level of institutional readiness in human and infrastructural resources that is not always present in LMICs. Institutional readiness for e-learning adoption ensures the alignment of new tools to the educational and economic context.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4
JournalHuman resources for health
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 4 2013
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • E-learning
  • Low- and middle-income countries
  • Medical education
  • Resource constrained

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Administration
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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    Frehywot, S., Vovides, Y., Talib, Z., Mikhail, N., Ross, H., Wohltjen, H., Bedada, S., Korhumel, K., Koumare, A. K., & Scott, J. (2013). E-learning in medical education in resource constrained low- and middle-income countries. Human resources for health, 11(1), [4]. https://doi.org/10.1186/1478-4491-11-4