Healthcare professionals are under pressure to remember, utilize and absorb vast amounts of new or changing information in increasing volume. This surge has led to new and improved computer-based tools for many healthcare activities and to an explosion in the marketplace of tools used in instruction and education of healthcare workers. This article explains the use of interactive technology in healthcare and how this benefits instruction and education of healthcare professionals.
Digital systems that capture images from documents, 35-mm slides, physical samples or specimens, or virtually anything that the camera lens can see, is found in interactive technology. In healthcare, transmitting these images to computers with simple devices or software that will allow the display and integration of educational material into the training environment is easily accommodated.
The method for delivering these images or documents, usually via PowerPoint presentations, photography, videotape or audio presentations can turn a standard Windows PC into a dynamic, interactive, teaching tool. Depending on the type of training environment needed, interactive presentations can be found in the use of liquid crystal displays, large plasma displays, rear projection systems or even whiteboards. Educators can now tailor their courses to their audience’s expectations and needs using any number of these presentation forms.
Effectiveness of interactive learning systems is largely dependent upon the type or form of delivery used in combination with software that is easily used by both novice and expert users. Smaller systems will use a pen or stylus vs. a computer and a mouse where larger systems may use elaborate videoconferencing systems where many participants can be in the virtual classroom at the same time. Many healthcare organizations already utilize small and large types of communication systems routinely in the delivery of quality, high-tech healthcare to patients and their community. Adapting this equipment or having it serve dual purposes is an easy and cost-effective transition.
The era of the blackboards and chalk dust is now a memory for most of us. Interactive technology tools permit the educator to draw on, write on, and annotate data right on the screen as part of their dynamic presentation. In addition, the educator can now annotate their presentation and then save, print and even distribute by email, the contents of the class session to all participants.
The mobility that interactive technology gives the educator in the virtual classroom lends itself to unlimited types of uses and methods for delivery of high quality, interactive, sessions. Participants, too, benefit from easy access to the sessions, improved and more accurate note-taking that can be used later for study and reference. This all leads to greater retention of the learning objectives and enhanced or improved application in the field once the participant returns to the office or department.
Healthcare professionals should look for educators and learning systems that combine ergonomics with interactive technologies that integrate use the user of free text, annotation, images and video clips with the traditional printed materials. Transitions between screens or programs, linking to the Internet and class sessions, downloading or printing of the course materials and saving of files or information for future classes or reference use should be easy and simple to use. The presentation and delivery of the educational material should be efficient and easy to use and tailored to use by both healthcare professionals that have varying levels of technological skills.
Regardless of whether healthcare workers are new to the workplace or seasoned professionals, the learning systems used should assist them with learning new skills, procedures, diagnostic techniques and terminology. Communication between healthcare workers in both local and distant communities is on the rise and the use of interactive technology enables the participants to collaborate and share critical data and information.
Interactive technology can also benefit the bottom line and reduce costs formerly associated with travel or staffing and resources to send workers to local, regional or national meetings. Interactive presentations and systems can also attract and hold the participants interest and attention, enhancing their learning and retention gained from the course(s).
It is no wonder, then, that interactive technology has gained such a strong and prominent position in the education of healthcare workers. Healthcare workers looking for either online, distance or local training should evaluate the presentation and delivery systems used in order to maximize their learning experience.