Teaching Postgraduate Health Informatics Courses through Video Conference Supported Collaborative Learning Environments
Shalaby, Hanin Abdulhameed
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This report discusses a representative subset of an internship project undertaken by Hanin Abdulhameed Shalaby, a Master of Health Informatics student at Dalhousie University. This research project focused on using video conferencing in collaborative learning environments to teach postgraduate health informatics courses at King Saud bin Abdulaziz University of Health Science (KSAU-HS). This internship was facilitated by the department of Public Health and Health Informatics at the College of Medicine, King Saud bin Abdulaziz University of Health Science, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, between January 7 and April 4, 2012. The project’s research methodology combined qualitative and quantitative research methods throughout the project’s various aspects, including research design, data collection, data analysis and interpretation, discussion and conclusion, and in proposing practical recommendations. The aim of the research project was to examine and analyze the effectiveness of using one particular collaborative learning approach, video conferencing, within the health informatics postgraduate program, in order to evaluate its usefulness for both students and faculty, to assess its success in meeting the program goals and objectives, and to aid in decision-making regarding program improvement. Throughout the research process, the author examined the effectiveness of using video conferencing in the classroom as a main goal. The manner in which video conferencing technology facilitated interactions between students and faculty within the context of postgraduate health informatics courses is explored in detail through an observational ethnomethodological approach, and findings have been triangulated using interviews, focus groups and a student survey. The author has critically analyzed the study’s findings, and this report emphasizes the strengths of utilizing video conferencing in academic institutions, such as reduced duplications, enhanced knowledge sharing and ability to reach distant locations. The report also highlights the key challenges, such as technical difficulties, lack of training, lack of interoperability and lack of accessibility. The report offers practical suggestions as well, including short and long-term recommendations.