Health[e]Foundation makes overseas medical training more effective using Turning Technologies

Health[e]Foundation training in HIV/AIDS, paediatric HIV, tuberculosis, mental health and malaria makes overseas medical training more effective using Turning Technologies’ student response systems

About Health[e]Foundation

Developing economies rely on a healthy population and local health care professionals need training if they are to keep up to date with the latest treatments for epidemics and occupational diseases.

Health[e]Foundation is a not-for-profit organization in the Netherlands that offers training programmes to health care workers in developing countries. Initially it focused on HIV/AIDS but it is now looking at tuberculosis, mental health and cardiovascular disease.

Health[e]Foundation has a small core staff of just five full timers and two volunteers. It works with local partners to provide learning programmes for healthcare workers in 14 countries including Uganda, Rwanda, Mozambique, Tanzania, el Salvador and Indonesia. It provides materials in eight languages: Dutch, English, French, Khmer, Russian, Portuguese Spanish, and Thai.

Dr Fransje van der Waals, founder and executive director of Health[e]Foundation, reflects on the role of blended learning and interactive voting systems in providing training for health workers in South America, Africa and Asia.

The issues:

Health[e]Foundation offers training in HIV/AIDS, paediatric HIV, tuberculosis, mental health and malaria. The training is very detailed. For example the HIV[e]Education e-learning course includes access to 25 modules written and updated annually by renowned experts in the field. Medical knowledge is growing all the time but so are the health issues so the organisation is now beginning to focus on new areas including conditions caused by diet and lifestyle such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Doctors, nurses and counsellors are trained together. Often staff have different levels of knowledge and understanding. Some know more than they think they do while others have gaps in their knowledge that they are not aware of. Assessment is vital but it must be done in a non-threatening way so none of the participants lose face. The courses run over a three month period from kick off meeting to closing workshop. It is important to maintain motivation and carry out regular monitoring and evaluation.

Generally trainers see 30-50 participants in a face-to-face session but they may also run a symposium with up to 300 participants. One of the key issues is to make sure people are involved and on task. This is especially hard with very big groups where the trainers may be physically more distanced from the audience so the format may be more like a lecture. It is important to find ways to get participants to contribute.

Currently Health[e]Foundation is training over 1000 participants each year and plans to grow this to at least 1500 health care workers by 2015.

The Solution

In 2005 we started training medical workers in Uganda and Thailand. Uganda was the first African country where we used the blended learning approach and we realised that it was a useful approach for training large numbers of healthcare professionals at one time.

The programme comes in several parts. It starts with an on-site introductory kick off meeting. This is followed by a 3-month computer-based self-study period which uses internet as well as offline modules on a USB stick. There is a follow up onsite workshop and annual medical updates.

I saw the TurningPoint from Turning Technologies ( for the first time at a CME in Leiden, the Netherlands and realised that here was a simple technology which we could take to Africa. It is an interactive voting system that provides a quick way of assessing knowledge.

TurningPoint lets trainers test knowledge anonymously so trainees feel they can contribute without being judged by their peers. We use this for formative and summative assessment, to establish prior knowledge and make sure participants have mastered the information from the course materials. We also use TurningPoint when we present at networking events. This makes our presentation stand out from the crowd.

The two day closing workshop addresses key topics from the course in a collaborative setting. There is an emphasis on team work and communication but sometimes participants are reluctant to discuss their ideas at the beginning of the day. If we presented individuals with a microphone and asked them to share their ideas they would clam up. Instead we use the TurningPoint voting system with carefully constructed questions and trends begin to emerge. Participants are happy to comment on these and give their views and the discussion opens up.

Participants always enjoy the quizzes and surveys and there is the sound of laughter and whispering as they decide on their answers. It is a great way of making face-to-face training more interactive.

Advantages of TurningPoint

  • It can be used to test the basic knowledge of a group as well as individuals
  • It can be used to promote discussion
  • It offers a change of pace and style in the middle of a long day
  • It can be used for warm-up exercises
  • It is good for brainstorming sessions
  • The group can answer questions anonymously
  • Individuals do not feel that they are being judged by the rest of the group
  • Trainers can check the handset numbers and identify who needs extra support
  • Several assessments over time will provide learning curves of individuals

For more information about TurningPoint andTurning Technologies, contact Mieke Ridderhof, Sales & Marketing Coordinator, Turning Technologies, Seinstraat 20, 1223 DA, Hilversum, Netherlands, T +31 (0)85 4011 040 E:


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About Turning Technologies:

Turning Technologies creates leading assessment delivery and data collection solutions for learning environments. Founded in 2002, the company began with the development of response technology that was affordable, user-friendly and better documented so that users could easily grasp its benefits. Today, an estimated six million ResponseCard keypads have been delivered to K-12 schools, universities and businesses worldwide. Turning has expanded its portfolio of products to include data collection systems that securely transfer digital data for various assessment, testing and certification programmes. Based in Youngstown, OH, and Hilversum, the Netherlands, information on Turning Technologies’ solutions can be found at .

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