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Grand Challenges Student Fund Project, 2012-13

Building Virtual Transcontinental Student Links – Rafiki Kwa Afya (Friends For Health)

Stephanie Ko, Medicine
Michelle Fong, Medicine

Dr Paula Baraitser, Partnerships London-Mtwara (PaLM)

Project aim
To develop a long term online partnership between clinical officer trainees in Clinical Officer Training College (COTC), Mtwara, Tanzania and medical students in the United Kingdom.

Project objectives
Develop and consolidate the peer-learning programme: This programme involves a monthly real-time meeting between students from both countries, with discussion in the interim via social media platforms. Due to current instability of the Internet connection at on-site computer labs in Mtwara, we intend to use nearby Internet cafes to sustain the regular meetings while this problem is being resolved. Internet café outings for the purpose of real-time meetings has been trialled before and met with enthusiastic participation. We will also work on encouraging the use of social media platforms to discuss anonymised medical cases and topics perceived as pertinent by both parties, for example school sexual health education. We are currently initiating a link between students from COTC sexual health club and students from Sexpression UK to discuss common problems and solutions faced.

2) Introduce technology as useful medical education adjuncts: Firstly, we intend to introduce offline medical resources, independent of an internet connection, to complement student learning in their current resource setting. These will include a) offline media files (e-books, clinical examination videos etc.) that we will transfer onto existing computers and b) a trial of pre-loaded, user-friendly medical applications on tablets that we intend to bring over and donate as a library resource. Furthermore, we would like to compare the uptake and acceptability of these 2 different styles of offline resources and their educational impact to adapt further adjuncts.

Secondly, we would like to introduce and improve access to online medical resources. This would build student autonomy and capacity to self-navigate and complement their learning with what is individually relevant as they progress through their stages of training; not limited by the availability of static offline resources. Currently hampered by the unstable connection, we would like to experiment with alternative means. To start, BMJ Learning has offered us complimentary accounts with access to interactive tutorials for student use at COTC. We would like to trial introducing this with the use of a tablet (customised for low-bandwidth connection) and compare it to the use of the existing computers (with dongles to supplement the existing network provider).

3) Study the attitude and use of computers in COTC: We intend to assess the awareness and use of technology by staff and students both qualitatively and quantitatively. Part of this will be through a repeat IT survey to document and analyse trends, supplemented with in-depth interviews.

Grand Challenges Student Fund

UCL’s Grand Challenges are looking for students with bright ideas for tackling some of the world’s big issues – and are offering funding and support to turn those ideas into reality.  Grants of up to £750 are available to support student led projects.  More

Page last modified on 01 aug 12 15:02