Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs (CCP)
"Findings from the study support the potential of blended learning models to reinforce learning and application of knowledge, which is crucial to ensuring health professionals around the world have access to accurate and timely health information."
In order to reach and educate health professionals around the globe, the K4Health project established the Global Health eLearning Center (GHeL), which provides free, self-paced eLearning courses on a variety of health topics. This report shares the results of a study of one such course, "U.S. [United States] Abortion and Family Planning Requirements", which provides an overview of abortion and family planning legislative and policy requirements that shape government assistance. To understand how various learning modes can affect knowledge retention and application, K4Health, which is supported by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), conducted a cross-sectional study of the blended learning aspect of GHeL. Blended learning, which combines traditional learning settings (i.e., face-to-face learning) with online learning approaches, is a strategy to strengthen learning outcomes and application of knowledge among health professionals in lower- and middle-income countries.
According to the authors, "[n]o systematic study has been conducted to understand the relationship between various learning approaches and the impact on learning outcomes related to family planning legislative and policy requirements among U.S. federal foreign aid recipients in lower- and middle-income countries. To address this research gap, the K4Health project conducted a study to examine the effect of a blended learning model that included three components (online course, in-person training, and a conference call) on knowledge retention and application." The study was interested in 2 outcomes: (i) knowledge retention - respondents answered 10 knowledge questions that covered topics included in the trainings. (ii) knowledge application - respondents answered a yes/no question about whether they used the knowledge they learned from the trainings in their work. There were 5 exposure groups: respondents who took the eLearning course once (Group A), respondents who took the eLearning course multiple times (Group B), respondents who took the eLearning course and participated in the in-person training (Group C), respondents who took the eLearning course and participated in the conference call (Group D), and respondents who took the eLearning course, participated in the in-person training, and participated in the conference call (Group E).
With regard to knowledge retention: Those respondents who took the online course, participated in the in-person training, and participated in the conference call (Group E) scored highest, followed by the respondents who took the online course multiple times (Group B), and then by the group of respondents who took the online course once (Group A). With regard to knowledge application: Group E had the highest proportion of respondents indicating that they had applied the knowledge they gained, followed by the group that took the online course and participated in the in-person training (Group C).
"The findings from this study support blended learning as an important strategy for reaching health professionals in lower- and middle-income countries with information about family planning and abortion regulations and promoting application of that knowledge....Respondents who participated in all three learning approaches had greater knowledge retention and application compared with respondents who completed only one or two of the learning modes."
K4Health Newsletter | February 2017; and K4Health website, March 9 2017. Image credit: Yahoo!