Aga Khan University (AKU) has 11 teaching sites in eight countries spread across three continents: Asia, Africa, and Europe. Due to AKU's multi-campus nature, communication/coordination between these teaching sites is often a problem. Moreover, the majority of countries where AKU operates suffer from political instability, making it difficult for AKU to form new and maintain existing partnerships, especially in teaching and capacity-building of its staff and students. For these reasons, AKU has turned to eLearning – the use of information and communication technology (ICT) for learning, teaching, and learner support services – to see what solutions it can offer to the aforementioned issues, and to what extent. The University arranged and implemented small pilot programs using different eLearning modalities at its teaching sites.
The residency program in Dental Surgery offered in AKU Karachi was chosen for a pilot project. The pilot aimed to supplement standard residency training with eLearning. Dental Surgery residents received bi-weekly online lectures by guest speakers from abroad in a variety of specialties, especially those for which there is little expertise available locally. Elluminate Live! (eLearning software) was chosen as the mode of delivery for these lectures because it allows for two-way, synchronous communication at very low Internet bandwidth. Each session was evaluated to measure and maintain quality and participant satisfaction. The sessions were found to be of high quality with minimal voice disruptions, and satisfaction of participants, including facilitator(s), was found to be above 90 percent.
Initially, there was only one guest lecturer, and about 20 residents participated in the sessions. Due to the high quality of the sessions, however, the number of guest lecturers has grown to four and over 100 residents from not only AKU Karachi but also AKU Nairobi as well as three other Pakistani dental colleges continue to benefit from the sessions. eLearning has enabled the Dental Surgery residents to successfully tap into international expertise and engage in collaboration.