Online Interprofessional Health Sciences Education: From Theory to Practice
Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions
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Online learning (e-learning) has a nascent but established history. Its application to interprofessional education (IPE), however, is relatively new. Over the past 2 decades the Internet has been used increasingly to mediate education. We have come past the point of "should we use the Internet for education" to "how should we use the Internet for education." Research has begun on the optimal development of online learning environments to support IPE. Developing online IPE should follow best practices in e-learning generally, though there are some special considerations for acknowledging the interprofessional context and clinical environments that online IPE is designed to support. The design, development, and deployment of effective online IPE must therefore pay special attention to the particular constraints of the health care worker educational matrix, both pre- and postlicensure. In this article we outline the design of online, interprofessional health sciences education. Our work has involved 4 educational and 4 clinical service institutions. We establish the context in which we situate our development activities that created learning modules designed to support IPE and its transfer into new interprofessional health care practices. We illustrate some best practices for the design of effective online IPE, and show how this design can create effective learning for IPE. Challenges exist regarding the full implementation of interprofessional clinical practice that are beginning to be met by coordinated efforts of multiple health care education silos.