Introduction: This study aimed to determine whether an 8-week online training program for developing skills in short-course development and delivery was effective in establishing locally driven, sustainable, evidence-based training for local occupational or physical therapists.
Methodology: Five Bangladeshi therapists from a rehabilitation center participated in the course, which was facilitated online by an Australian university. They completed 8 prerecorded modules over a 3-month period, and were assessed in situ on their ability to deliver a tutorial to their peers. A qualitative explanatory case study design was used to evaluate outcomes, drawing on data gathered from precourse and 1-year follow-up surveys, observations (including interactions during the course and final participant presentations), and a postcourse focus group.
Results: The course achieved 6 of its 9 objectives, with all participants satisfactorily planning and delivering an evidence-based interactive tutorial to their peers. Participants noted improved competence and confidence in searching for evidence and developing and executing a teaching plan. This was sustained at 1-year review. The key theme was a shift in participants' capacity for teaching and learning. Enablers were multimodal teaching techniques, the presence of a local leader, and the establishment of informal peer support. Barriers were logistical issues such as access to reliable Internet services and late delivery of course materials.
Discussion: Online distance education can be effective in producing sustainable change in practitioner skills in developing countries. Future programs would benefit from a blended learning approach incorporating "face-to-face" instructor contact.
Keywords: case study; culture/diversity/cultural competence; innovative educational interventions; online/computer-based education; small group/team learning.
© 2015 The Alliance for Continuing Education in the Health Professions, the Society for Academic Continuing Medical Education, and the Council on Continuing Medical Education, Association for Hospital Medical Education.