Evaluation of the Impact of Distance Learning For Expanding Capacity for Clinical Research in India

Post Date: 

This study ended in March 2012.

The Office of AIDS Research has initiated a comprehensive program to expand clinical research capacity in India. This program has utilized a number of platforms for providing research training, including intensive in-country workshops and conferences.  These programs have received very positive feedback from participants in India, but the cost of these in-country programs may limit the ability to scale-up, expand access and sustain clinical research training in India. 

Distance learning tools provide a lower cost alternative to more traditional face-to-face training platforms.  While distance learning has been widely utilized for public health and clinical training in the US and other developed country settings, such programs have not been widely utilized to support training of students in more resource-limited settings. In addition, while distance learning has demonstrated effectiveness for knowledge/skills acquisition in many settings, primarily in developed countries, there is very limited information about how well distance learning platforms might improve health research knowledge, skills and capacity.  

To address the limitations and high cost of more traditional face-to-face training programs, we propose to develop and evaluate the impact of distance learning programs on expanding capacity for clinical research in India, to support the goals of the Office of AIDS Research.  The project team that has been established for this proposal is uniquely qualified to develop and evaluate on-line and on-site programs to expand capacity for research in India.  To further investigate the feasibility of utilizing distance learning tools for research training and capacity building, two high-priority training needs that reflect quite distinct content areas and curricula (Biostatistics and Research Ethics) have been strategically targeted for this initiative.  This project will randomly assign participants/students between on-line and on-site versions of the same courses.  Using knowledge assessment and course evaluation tools, the feasibility, impact and acceptability of on-line and on-site versions of the Biostatistics and Research Ethics courses will be compared.