iHRIS and eLearning: A New Direction for Capacity-Building
Kabelo Bitsang, iHRIS administrator for the Botswana Ministry of Health, learned to maintain and customize the iHRIS software through studying documentation online, working with CapacityPlus developers both in-country and remotely, and attending a training in Ghana. He came from a Microsoft Windows background and learned to work in a Linux environment, the required operating system for iHRIS. “I mostly learned from trial and error and just asking as many questions as possible,” he noted in a recent interview.
Many countries, like Botswana, are adopting CapacityPlus’s Open Source iHRIS Manage and iHRIS Qualify software and have successfully modified the software to meet their specific needs. CapacityPlus, along with other IntraHealth International-led projects, provides assistance to several of these countries to install and adapt the software and develop custom reports. As more countries began to independently implement the software, the iHRIS team identified the need to build in-country skills in the information and communications technology required to administer the software.
Meeting in-country demands
The newly launched iHRIS Administrator: Level 1 eLearning course, developed for CapacityPlus’s HRH Global Resource Center (GRC), will help to address this need without the traditional—and costly—in-country technical assistance. It is a free, self-paced course that provides the skills needed to install, maintain, and customize the software. It also includes information on data standardization and data quality—key to fostering trust and use of data.
An insider’s view
Since December, I’ve been the project manager for the course development process, though the effort to build the GRC eLearning platform has been underway for approximately two years. One aspect that I’m excited about is the ability to build custom reports to facilitate health worker data analysis. Although the iHRIS software installation comes with a number of standard reports, the iHRIS team often receives requests for help creating custom reports.
The Custom Reports module walks students through the step-by-step process of creating a new report, starting with joining database forms and fields and ending with the student selecting a default display for end users. For students who learn best by watching, there is a video with a voiceover and screen capture.
The course also includes exercises for students to connect with the iHRIS developer community, so they can ask for help or contribute code and language translations.
Though the course is newly launched, we have already received requests for an advanced iHRIS administrator course. This new direction helps to meet the goals of the iHRIS team to build local capacity for the iHRIS software, as well as diversify and expand the iHRIS developer community.
Like the iHRIS software and Moodle-based eLearning platform, the course content is open and can be freely modified and reused. We hope that countries will adapt it for their needs for their own courses and other types of trainings. Already, Dr. Juma Lungo of the University of Dar es Salaam has used the draft content and modified it for training 63 officers supporting Tanzania’s iHRIS Manage system. And in the coming months, Kabelo Bitsang plans to enroll four new iHRIS officers in the course.