Health care professionals are under pressure to remember, utilize, and absorb large amounts of new or changing information in increasing volumes. This surge has led to new and improved computer-based tools for many health care activities and an explosion in the market for tools used in the instruction and education of healthcare workers. This article describes the use of interactive technology in healthcare and how it benefits the instruction and education of healthcare professionals.
Digital systems that capture images of documents, 35 mm slides, physical samples or specimens, or almost anything that can be seen by the camera lens, are found in interactive technology. In healthcare, the transmission of these images to a computer by means of simple devices or software that allows the display and integration of educational materials into the training environment can be accommodated easily.
This method of delivering images or documents, usually through PowerPoint presentations, photography, videotape, or audio presentations can turn a standard Windows PC into a dynamic and interactive teaching tool. Depending on the type of training environment required, interactive presentations can be found in the use of liquid crystal displays, large plasma screens, rear projection systems or even whiteboards. Educators can now tailor their courses to the expectations and needs of their audience using a number of these presentation forms.
The effectiveness of interactive learning systems is highly dependent on the type or form of delivery used in combination with software that is easy to use by both novice and expert users. Smaller systems will use a pen or stylus vs computer and mouse where as larger systems can use complex video conferencing systems where multiple participants can be in a virtual classroom at the same time. Many healthcare organizations have used both small and large types of communication systems on a regular basis in the delivery of high-quality, high-tech healthcare services to patients and their communities. Adapting this equipment or making it double functional is an easy and cost-effective transition.
The era of chalkboards and chalk dust is now a distant memory for most of us. Interactive technology tools allow educators to draw, write, and annotate data directly on the screen as part of their dynamic presentation. In addition, educators can now annotate their presentations and then save, print and even distribute via email, class session content to all participants.
The mobility that interactive technologies provide educators with in virtual classrooms lends itself to an endless variety of uses and methods for delivering high-quality interactive sessions. Participants also benefit from easy access to sessions, improvements and more accurate record keeping that can be used later for study and reference. This all leads to greater retention of learning objectives and enhanced or enhanced application in the field once participants return to the office or department.
Health professionals should look for educators and learning systems that combine ergonomics with interactive technologies that integrate the use of free text, annotations, images and video clips with traditional printed materials. Transitioning between screens or programs, connecting to the Internet and class sessions, downloading or printing course materials and saving files or information for future class or reference use should be easy and simple to use. The presentation and delivery of educational materials should be efficient and easy to use and adapted for use by healthcare professionals with varying levels of technological skills.
Regardless of whether healthcare workers are new to the workplace or experienced professionals, the learning systems used should help them learn new skills, procedures, diagnostic techniques, and terminology. Communication between health workers in local and remote communities is on the rise and the use of interactive technology allows participants to collaborate and share important data and information.
Interactive technologies can also provide benefits and reduce costs previously associated with travel or staff and resources for sending workers to local, regional or national meetings. Presentations and interactive systems can also attract and retain participants’ interest and attention, enhancing their learning and memory gained from the course.
It is not surprising, then, that interactive technology has gained such a strong and prominent position in the education of health workers. Health care workers seeking online, remote or local training should evaluate the presentation and delivery systems used to maximize their learning experience.
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Copyright 2005, MA Webb. All rights reserved