Open Access Research article

Computer literacy and E-learning perception in Cameroon: the case of Yaounde Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

Georges Bediang12*, Beat Stoll3, Antoine Geissbuhler2, Axel M Klohn3, Astrid Stuckelberger3, Samuel Nko’o1 and Philippe Chastonay34

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University of Yaounde I, P.O. Box 1364, Yaoundé, Cameroon

2 Department of Radiology and Medical Informatics, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland

3 Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland

4 Unit of Development and Research in Medical Education, Faculty of Medicine, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland

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BMC Medical Education 2013, 13:57  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-13-57

Published: 19 April 2013

Abstract

Background

Health science education faces numerous challenges: assimilation of knowledge, management of increasing numbers of learners or changes in educational models and methodologies. With the emergence of e-learning, the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) and Internet to improve teaching and learning in health science training institutions has become a crucial issue for low and middle income countries, including sub-Saharan Africa. In this perspective, the Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (FMBS) of Yaoundé has played a pioneering role in Cameroon in making significant efforts to improve students’ and lecturers’ access to computers and to Internet on its campus.

The objective is to investigate how computer literacy and the perception towards e-learning and its potential could contribute to the learning and teaching process within the FMBS academic community.

Method

A cross-sectional survey was carried out among students, residents and lecturers. The data was gathered through a written questionnaire distributed at FMBS campus and analysed with routine statistical software.

Results

307 participants answered the questionnaire: 218 students, 57 residents and 32 lecturers. Results show that most students, residents and lecturers have access to computers and Internet, although students’ access is mainly at home for computers and at cyber cafés for Internet. Most of the participants have a fairly good mastery of ICT. However, some basic rules of good practices concerning the use of ICT in the health domain were still not well known. Google is the most frequently used engine to retrieve health literature for all participants; only 7% of students and 16% of residents have heard about Medical Subject Headings (MeSH).

The potential of e-learning in the improvement of teaching and learning still remains insufficiently exploited. About two thirds of the students are not familiar with the concept of e-leaning. 84% of students and 58% of residents had never had access to e-learning resources. However, most of the participants perceive the potential of e-learning for learning and teaching, and are in favour of its development at the FMBS.

Conclusion

The strong interest revealed by the study participants to adopt and follow-up the development of e-learning, opens new perspectives to a faculty like the FMBS, located in a country with limited resources. However, the success of its development will depend on different factors: the definition of an e-learning strategy, the implementation of concrete measures and the adoption of a more active and participative pedagogy.

Keywords:
E-learning; Medical education; Developing Countries; Africa