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Since 2010, the mission of the Emerging Voices (EV) programme has been to empower health researchers from the Global South by providing intensive skills training and facilitating their participation in a global health conference. Two EV participants in the 2014 edition, which included a comprehensive eLearning component, went on to win 1st and 2nd prize for best poster at the Third Global Health Symposium on Health Systems Research in Cape Town, South Africa. The fourth edition of EV was jointly organised by the University of Western Cape’s School of Public Health (UWC SoPH) and ITM.

Online skills development

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The University of Western Cape, University of Cape Town, Peking University Health Science Centre, Institute of Public Health Bengalaru India and ITM Antwerp have joined forces to make this new venture a success. Follow the Emerging Voices community on TwitterFacebook and the EV website for updates.

Unlike previous editions, the face-to-face component of the 2014 EV programme was shortened to ten days. It took place in September in Cape Town, ahead of the Global Symposium. In order to facilitate in-depth content exchanges in a more personalised setting, the bulk of the skills development training was shifted to an online platform.

During the 14 weeks of distance learning, eight modules were covered; four of these were very lively introductory thematic discussions facilitated by content experts and EV alumni on the themes of universal health care, people-centred health systems, global governance for health and health systems complexity. The four skills development modules guided the participants through the process of preparing engaging presentations and scientific posters.

Mind mapping and multimedia principles

The modules were designed with the intent to allow other students and even academic staff to benefit from them in the future, at any stage of their training or career.

The first segment was called “Mind mapping”. Here the participants were introduced to basic theory of and were provided with hands-on training in logical argumentation based on pieces of evidence. They also worked on a clear outline (i.e. mind map) based on their abstracts, which was later used as the backbone for both their presentation and scientific poster.

The second segment was dedicated to “Multimedia principles”, which drew from Prof. Richard E. Mayer’s well-known Principles for the design of Multimedia Learning. Emphasis was put on the multimedia, contiguity, modality and coherence principles using e-exercises and video tutorials. The participants then submitted a first draft of their presentations, on which they received feedback from their peers, and later from their facilitators.

As part of the closing component of the skills development modules, the participants had to design a scientific poster, integrating both their mind map and multimedia principles. Building on best practices from previous EV ventures, peer and facilitator feedback was provided in person for this assignment.

The success of the training is probably best illustrated by EV participants Nana Yaa Boadu (Ghana) and Adithya Pradyumna (India), who won the 1st and 2nd prize for best poster at the Third Global Symposium. The enthusiasm of the participants also reflected in their positive evaluation of the venture. “Great programme! Would love to be more and more involved in the years to come,” wrote one of the Emerging Voices in her evaluation.