Editor’s Note: Today’s post comes to us from HHTM’s own Editor-In-Chief, Wayne Staab, PhD, discussing an innovative new global eLearning program for the hearing industry.
eLearning Program for Hearing Education Training
Hearing education training has come a long way, but not necessarily for those wishing to engage at an entry level. Degreed programs have been reserved primarily for higher education institutions through conventional programs of four or more years (Audiology, Deaf Education, etc.).
Other entry-level training has been non-degreed by trade associations via distance learning programs (e.g., International Institute for Hearing Instrument Studies, for hearing aid specialists). In the past, a few Associate Degree programs existed (e.g., Anoka-Ramsey Community College, and the American Conference of Audioprosthology as a baccalaureate level course specifically designed for hearing instrument dispensers with two or more years of experience), but seem to have not gained the widespread attention sought.
Without some kind of accepted certification, non-degreed studies are often questioned – rightly or wrongly.
During the past decade, eLearning has taken on a life of its own, with millions of users from small and large corporations to classrooms of all sizes and interests, engaged in online courses. In other words, Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) have been empowering learning everywhere.
Over the years, I have closely followed a program that started as a hearing aid sales operation and, along with some of its other hearing-related activities (custom made hearing protection, advanced hearing diagnostics, hearing aid repairs, and cochlear implants), has expanded since 2002 to include a pre-school, grade school, and now a high school that integrates hearing-impaired students into inclusive classroom education.
Where, might you ask, is this unique operation? In New York, California, or some other advanced educational environment? No, this unique and unsurpassed operation exists in the far end of Africa – Pretoria, South Africa. The vision for this unique private operation was started and expanded under the hard work and guidance of good friends, Nico van der Merwe Sr., his wife Anita, and Nico Jr. And now, the program has expanded further to include an eLearning program to train educators who teach the hearing impaired, work in industrial hearing conservation, and those fitting hearing aids, regardless of where they reside in the world. And, to do this as an entry-level educational endeavor through Eduplex Training Institute (ETI).
Eduplex Training Institute (ETI)
Eduplex Training Institute (ETI) is an education training provider. Programs are aimed at teaching people who would like to pursue a career in hearing-aid acoustics, as well as those involved in industrial hearing conservation. ETI is a distance-learning institution for individuals anywhere in the world, recognizing that travel to distant educational sites is often not practical, or affordable. eLearning, in itself, is nothing unusual or unique. However, the ETI program has some features that differ from those seen in current studies for distance learning programs in hearing.
Eduplex Training Institute currently offers two programs: 1) Inclusive Education for Hearing Impaired Children, and 2) Hearing Aid Acoustician Programme, with others planned in pediatric audiology and hearing conservation. The online courses use self-directed learning combined with Internet contact and practical sessions. This post describes the Hearing Aid Acoustician Programme as a form of disruptive education in that it is a total course administered for hearing providers by distance contact only.
The course management system (CMS) used to access the learning material is called Moodle. This is a open-source software program that keeps all learning content together in one location on a website. It also provides a way for students to submit assignments, take quizzes and examinations, chat, follow progress, and connect with lecturers. Figure 1 provides a visual overview of the ETI approach.
To get an idea of how the program is designed, a journey through the Hearing Aid Acoustician Programme follows (for part of Module 1 only).
Log in is allowed only for registered students and faculty. At this time, two modules are available:
- The Diploma in Inclusive Education for Hearing Impaired Children, and
- Hearing Aid Acoustician Programme
The Hearing Aid Acoustician Programme
This Programme consists of 8 modules, with each module including a different number of lessons.
- Module 1 – The Ear and Hearing
- Module 2 – Sound and Hearing
- Module 3 – Audiometric Tests
- Module 4 – Hearing Instrument Selection
- Module 5 – Earmoulds and coupling devices
- Module 6 – Hearing Instrument Fittings and Real Ear Measurements
- Module 7 – Technical Services and Repairs
- Module 8 – Patient Care and Administration
Next week’s post will describe the Eduplex Training Institute Hearing Aid Acoustician Programme.