One of the key aims of UKHSA in Pakistan is to strengthen workforce capacity and capabilities for implementation for Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR) and IHR in Pakistan. The Pakistan team have already developed comprehensive face-to-face training for IDSR, however, there are a number of challenges in the delivery of in-person training. These include travel for the trainer to cover the wide geographical area, time commitment from both trainer and trainees for an extended amount of time and logistical and security issues and costs surrounding this and it was considered critical that we develop innovative solutions for long term sustainability. It is also important to integrate modern teaching techniques into the delivery of training and learning. An effective and efficient way to do this was to adopt sustainable digital learning models, as it not only saves money and time and is more scalable and consistent, but it also operates on the learner’s terms as they can tune in whenever and wherever they want.
In 2018, UKHSA partnered with FutureLearn platform to develop a course on Public Health Laboratories, one of the modules from the IDSR training course. The pilot was offered to 51 participants working in Pakistan on IDSR. In addition to convenience and flexibility of online trainings, learner friendly features of the FutureLearn platform made it an easy option to adopt. The platform allows material to be uploaded in either audio, video, or text form for ease of access. Learners can exchange information with instructors and colleagues. The FutureLearn platform enabled not only the extra benefit of added enhanced security but also provided logistical support to UKHSA to retain complete ownership and control of the course material on the platform.
This online course lasted two weeks with 4 and 5 specified learning outcomes for the first and second weeks, respectively. Pre and Post Test method was used to assess learning from the training course and participants had to fill an evaluation form for content analysis. This evaluation will help improve attributes of future courses to design more effective online training.