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General medicine
Evidence synthesis workshops: moving from face-to-face to online learning
  1. Michael McCaul1,
  2. Solange Durao2,
  3. Tamara Kredo2,3,
  4. Paul Garner4,
  5. Taryn Young1,
  6. Anke Rohwer1
  1. 1Centre for Evidence-based Health Care, Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Department of Global Health, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa
  2. 2Cochrane South Africa, South African Medical Research Council, Tygerberg, South Africa
  3. 3Clinical Pharmacology, Stellenbosch University Department of Medicine, Cape Town, South Africa
  4. 4Centre for Evidence Synthesis in Global Health, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Liverpool, UK
  1. Correspondence to Mr Michael McCaul, Centre for Evidence-based Health Care, Division of Epidemiology and Biostatstics, Department of Global Health, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, Western Cape, South Africa; mmccaul{at}


Postgraduate training is moving from face-to-face workshops or courses to online learning to help increase access to knowledge, expertise and skills, and save the cost of face-to-face training. However, moving from face-to-face to online learning for many of us academics is intimidating, and appears even more difficult without the help of a team of technologists. In this paper, we describe our approach, our experiences and the lessons we learnt from converting a Primer in Systematic Reviews face-to-face workshop to a 6-week online course designed for healthcare professionals in Africa. We learnt that the team needs a balance of skills and experience, including technical know-how and content knowledge; that the learning strategies needed to achieve the learning objectives must match the content delivery. The online approach should result in both building knowledge and developing skills, and include interactive and participatory approaches. Finally, the design and delivery needs to keep in mind the limited and expensive internet access in some resource-poor settings in Africa.

  • evidence-based practice

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  • Contributors MM and AR drafted the manuscript. SD, TK, PG and TY contributed to the manuscript and provided guidance. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding Cochrane’s Global Evidence Synthesis Initiative Pilot site (2013–2015). Effective Health Care Research Consortium which is funded by UK aid from the UK Government for the benefit of developing countries (grant: 5242).

  • Map disclaimer The depiction of boundaries on this map does not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of BMJ (or any member of its group) concerning the legal status of any country, territory, jurisdiction or area or of its authorities. This map is provided without any warranty of any kind, either express or implied.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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