Information and communication technologies (ICT) can extend the reach of traditional teaching models and enhance the quality of learning. Most distance learning platforms are hosted in North America and Europe and their approaches may not fully meet the educational, cultural, or technical needs of low- and middle-income country (LMIC) users. We propose to narrow this gap by establishing electronic capacity (eCapacity) for research learning in Zambia. To launch this new initiative, we will offer an intensive curriculum i Applied Public Health Informatics. We have selected this particular topic because of its suitability for the eLearning approach and because of the enormous unmet need for data management skills in most LMIC settings. Through a robust, ICT-based platform, we will develop and implement a curriculum designed to build these skills in data management, analysis, and interpretation. The program content will include targeted concepts in biostatistics, epidemiology, public health informatics, statistical software programming, and research ethics, and will be complemented with hands-on mentorship and facilitation. We will employ multiple modalities to enhance learning, including: (1) customized online coursework, with embedded practical assignments using local examples, (2) a community of learners connected through internet and social media technologies that promote engagement, (3) an intensively mentored practicum during which trainees conduct analyses using large observational databases available on site, and (4) an accessible library of resources to supplement coursework and enhance learning. The proposed APHI certificate and postgraduate diploma will be awarded through the University of Zambia. Our project will lay the technological framework, develop the technical expertise, and create the network of users to foster future eCapacity activities in Zambia.
We seek to develop the technological framework and technical expertise to implement locally relevant curricula for research training in Zambia. We will apply the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's experience in distance education and course development, and transfer this capacity to the Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia (CIDRZ) and the University of Zambia (UNZA) over the three-year award. Upon this foundation, we will develop and administer an intensive training curriculum in applied public health informatics, one that addresses a critical gap in research and program implementation in Africa.