Information and communication technology (ICT) tools are increasingly important for clinical care, research, data management, international collaborations, and dissemination. Many technologies would be particularly useful for healthcare workers in resource-limited settings; however, these individuals are the least likely to utilize ICT tools, in part because they lack knowledge and skills necessary to use them. Our program aimed to train researchers in low-resource settings on using ICT tools.
We conducted a tiered, blended learning program for researchers in Kenya on three areas of ICT: geographic information systems, data management, and communication tools. Tiers included didactic online courses for 100-300 students for each topic, skills workshops for 30 students, and mentored projects for 10. Concurrently, a training of trainers course comprised of an online course and a skills workshop to ensure sustainable ongoing training.
Course ratings were high, particularly when participants engaged in hands-on skill building activities. Teaching that incorporated local examples was most valuable. Discussion boards were sometimes distracting, depending on multiple factors. Mentored projects were most useful when there were clear expectations, pre-existing projects or data, and clear timelines.
Training in the use of ICT tools is essential to improve their use among researchers in low-income settings. However, very few training courses have been described. Our students demonstrated acquisition of new skills and felt these skills to be valuable in their workplaces.
Further and ongoing training in ICT skills should be considered in other low-resource settings, and could use our program as a foundational model.