Combining tech & hands-on training to help more people see

March 2019

Here at Orbis, we recognize that the need for innovative technologies and global collaboration is more important than ever in the fight against avoidable blindness. That's why we've developed special 'blended learning' courses - alongside partners such as the Alcon Foundation - to boost the skills of eye care teams around the world.

This video was created by our Training & Innovation team

What is blended learning?

Blended learning is a combination of online training via our award-winning telemedicine platform Cybersight - and in-person training (usually but not always) led by our Volunteer Faculty on the Flying Eye Hospital and in local hospitals.

Research shows that the blended approach is the best way to improve learning and the skills of eye teams in local communities. The approach involves becoming familiar with a technique online, answering questions and watching demonstrations.

This is then followed-up by hands-on training, often carried out by one of our skilled Volunteer Faculty members on an Orbis-sponsored program. However, the hands-on training part can be carried out by any experienced health professional, ensuring these courses can be taken in countries where we currently have no physical presence.

Amelia Geary, Program Development & Quality Director said: “Orbis has now started creating course content that can stand alone for online learners and can be accessed from anywhere, but is best when paired with hands on training in a blended learning approach.”

Through blended learning, we can make an impact in places where a physical presence simply isn't possible.

This flexible approach enables us to scale up the impact of our work, not only by boosting the skills of local eye teams in our existing projects, but also by creating content that people can access in hard-to-reach communities around the world.

This includes conflict zones, like Syria, where Volunteer Faculty members Dr. Dan Neely regularly mentors Syrian ophthalmologist Dr Hamoudeh.

Thanks to Cybersight, and partners like the Alcon Foundation who help develop many of our online courses, we can make an impact in places where a physical presence simply isn't possible.

What does the future hold for blended learning?

With the support of our international eye care partners, we’re now able to launch our blended-learning curriculum in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country where Orbis doesn’t currently have any active projects. Our online courses will be supplemented by hands-on training provided by local experts.

We're also set to complete courses in Ethiopia, Mongolia and Bolivia in the near future.

“Blended learning is more effective than either face-face or online learning alone.”

Barbara Means, SRI International

The Effectiveness of Online and Blended Learning: A Meta-Analysis of the Empirical Literature

How are we using tech & innovation to change lives?

For almost 40 years, the cornerstone of our work has been teaching and training eye teams around the world.

With avoidable blindness set to triple by 2050, the eye health community needs to embrace new technology to reach more people than ever before.

The addition of our blended learning courses are yet another brilliant example of how expert volunteers can teach and support eye care teams using the latest advancements in internet and mobile technologies to reach more people at a lower cost.

We’d like to say a big thank-you to our longstanding partner, The Alcon Foundation. Without their support, the creation and development of our blended training courses would not be possible.

And thanks to our supporters and partners, we're always on the lookout for new ways to use technology to help build the skills of eye teams in communities around the world.

By constantly innovating, we're able to reach more people and transform lives - more efficiently - than ever before.

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