Computer-based learning for the enhancement of breastfeeding training for South African undergraduate dietetic students
Introduction In order to address poor breastfeeding rates, both nationally and internationally, there is a great need for ongoing breastfeeding training for students of health care professions and health care workers (HCWs). Despite the availability of courses, there is a need for new approaches to ensure greater and more effective coverage in breastfeeding training. The students of today relate well to the use of computers in the learning environment. It was therefore deemed appropriate to explore this training method as a means to enhance the breastfeeding learning experience for students of health care professions and, more specifically, for undergraduate dietetic students. This study was aimed at adapting and validating an Indian computer-based undergraduate breastfeeding training module, intended for use by South African (SA) undergraduate dietetic students, in order to assess whether computer-based learning in breastfeeding training could address the relevancy of the topic, assess how students view the learning experience and determine whether it could contribute to a gain in knowledge of the subject. Methods An Indian computer-based undergraduate breastfeeding training module in PowerPoint format was adapted to suit the SA scenario. It was converted into web-based interactive material using the Virtual Training Studio (VTS) software tool. The adapted module was assessed for face and content validity by 19 peer reviewers and 17 third year Stellenbosch University (SU) dietetic students, by means of a self-administered questionnaire. A focus group discussion was also conducted with the third year students. The impact of the adapted module on knowledge was evaluated by means of a pre- and post-knowledge test on a total of 29 second year SU (n=14) and University of the Western Cape (UWC, n=15) dietetic students. Results All of the peer reviewers and students were of the opinion that their information technology (IT) skills were sufficient to complete the adapted module. The majority of the peer reviewers (94%, n=17) also indicated that they had adequate IT facilities and that it was feasible to administer the module. Peer reviewers and students enjoyed the presentation and delivery mode of the adapted module. Third year students indicated that computer-based learning (CBL) was a “nice way of learning”, but pleaded that it should not be used as the sole source of instruction. The majority of the peer reviewers and students (53%, n=19) rated the mode of learning to be equally effective compared to conventional lectures, 35% rated it as being more effective and 11% as less effective. Eighty six percent of peer reviewers and students felt that the information in the adapted module was sufficient to enable the students to take the necessary preventive- or treatment action. The majority (91%) were of the opinion that the information in the adapted module was appropriate for the specific needs and cultural context in SA. There was a significant increase in the knowledge test scores for second year students at SU and UWC. Conclusion The SA VTS breastfeeding training module can be integrated effectively as part of multi-media methods to increase knowledge and enhance breastfeeding training for undergraduate dietetic students, as well as other students of health care professions and, possibly, HCWs in institutions striving to become Baby Friendly.