Trainee Nurses and Midwives in Zambia Expand Knowledge with Digital Training
May 24 2012, Zambia [ZM], Education, Health
Trainee nurses and midwives attending classes at different nursing and midwifery colleges all over Zambia used to take notes by hand while paying attention to their health work trainings. By working with digital tools, both teachers and students now have more time to interact and further expand their knowledge in class.
Until very recently, Zambian trainee nurses and midwives had to continuously take notes by hand while paying attention to the lectures in subjects critical for their training as health workers. This was due to a chronic shortage of suitable text books at the colleges. As a result, neither the students nor the lecturers had any time to interact or further expand their knowledge in class.
The General Nursing Council of Zambia (GNCZ), the national body responsible for training student nurses and midwives, soon realised that both the lecturers and the students would benefit greatly if they could receive up-to-date training materials for each subject at the start of every course. They concluded that compiling these training materials in-house, electronically, at the GNCZ, in close collaboration with college lecturers and experts, who specialised in different medical fields, would be the best way forward. Therefore, with the help of IICD, the first step towards standardising materials used for the entire college curriculum was taken with the establishment of a “Study Materials Development and Production Centre” in 2011. The centre is housed in a separate, purpose-built office at the new GNCZ Secretariat in Lusaka.
The process involves digitally creating separate training modules for each subject that include all the lecture notes accompanied by images. The content for the training materials is compiled and peer-reviewed by a select group of lecturers and subject specialists. The modules are then formatted, edited, printed and distributed by the GNCZ to the student nurses and midwives at the start of the new college term. The student nurses and midwives can then focus more on what is being said in class as they are provided with all the materials they need for their lectures in advance.
Feedback from student nurses and midwives
The whole process is being evaluated by the students themselves. They now provide regular feedback to the GNCZ about the new training materials through questionnaires, which they fill in at the end of each term. This ensures that the training materials can be continuously fine-tuned to correspond with their training needs. It also helps the GNCZ to identify aspects of the materials that the students find particularly useful, for example: full-colour diagrams and photos. One of the first comments from the students was that it would be convenient if they could be tested after each chapter they read. A test will now be included in the training materials.
More creative teaching
Through this project, the academic staff of the different nursing and midwifery colleges have also been trained to use new media to support their teaching, such as PowerPoint presentations. Hence, the teaching process at the nursing colleges is becoming more creative and efficient for the students and lecturers alike.
Ultimately, all of the education materials used for the different courses will be digitised, including books that will be distributed through DVDs. The students will also be able to enhance their knowledge in a more creative and interactive way by studying with the use of ICT in the General Nursing Council’s computer labs.
This project will not only change the way the staff teaches but will also alter the learning experience for the students resulting in a new generation of highly-skilled, computer-literate health professionals.
The General Nursing Council is developing this project with the help of local IT professionals who train staff to use eLearning content authoring tools and software such as EXE Learning that, in turn, enables them to build up their own store of digital learning materials.
Tools used: Microsoft Word, Microsoft Powerpoint, ExE learning