Dimitrios G. Katehakis, Angelina Kouroubali and Ioannis Karatzanis participated as a team in SlideWiki’s Open CourseWare Competition. You can read the interview about their experience at SlideWiki’s Open CourseWare competition and their plans for using SlideWiki in the future here below.
- Please introduce yourself and your team (Name, Professional Background, current working position.
Dimitrios G. Katehakis works on data integration analysis and the development of appropriate health information infrastructure and tools required for the provision of innovative, integrated Electronic Health Record (EHR) services. Dimitrios has participated in the implementation of a large number of projects in the domain of electronic health (eHealth), both in Greece and abroad (Europe/ United States), aiming towards the upgrade of provided health services to the citizens. Currently he is the Head of the Center for eHealth Applications and Services at the Institute of Computer Science, Foundation for Research and Technology – Hellas (FORTH).
Angelina Kouroubali is a collaborating researcher at the Computational BioMedicine Laboratory, Institute of Computer Science, Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas, on the island of Crete. She has a masters in Medical Informatics from Columbia University (USA) and a PhD in management of Medical Informatics from the Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge (UK). Her research interests focus on social and organizational issues in eHealth, eHealth interoperability, electronic health records, personal health records, management of change and complexity in healthcare. She has participated as a researcher in a number of European and nationally funded projects and principle investigator of the European projects EHR-Implement, EHR-Q-TN, and Healthware.
- How was your experience participating in SlideWiki’s OpenCourseWare Competition?
Dimitrios: Our participation in SlideWiki’s OpenCourseWare completion was very challenging due to the fact that we decided to form a team and participate in the competition at the very last minute. We did experience some issues regarding the conversion of already available material in a format appropriate for SlideWiki. Despite the initial difficulty in switching from the presentation software we traditionally use to SlideWiki, at the end of the day it turned out to be very successful endeavor. Challenges were mostly related to the open nature of the course, i.e. keeping a balance between the high specializations of the topic we selected to prepare vs not been fully aware of the learning expectations of the audience. We did our best not to sacrifice quality over simplification. The whole effort required significant interaction and cooperation among the members of our team.
Angelina: My experience of the competition was intense. I participated in the competition as part of a three member’s team. Two of us worked on the content of the course and the third person made sure to put all the content online. He took care of the technical aspects of the course and the SlideWiki platform. We collaborated closely with each other spending several hours in designing the presentations. Once we decided to be involved and do the course, we wanted to do it as well as we could and as complete as we could. Even though the process was labor intensive, it was creative and fun. While I was creating my part, I had in mind the general public who is not familiar with the concepts of interoperability and the EU regulations and policies. EU policies for eHealth focus on the citizen, but the citizen most of the times is not informed or does not understand what these are about. I felt very passionate in explaining the key issues and principles of interoperability so that people can understand this important topic that affects and will continue to affect all of us.
Ioannis: My experience of the competition was of a great interest! On one hand there was a slight pressure due to the shortage of time and the amount of material that had to be uploaded to the platform. On the other hand, the fact that I was working with a familiar team exhibiting a high degree of collaboration, took that feeling aside, allowing me to explore the SlideWiki platform under real circumstances. Although I am accustomed to using a different presentation software, soon I found that I actually like the plain user interface of SlideWiki, and that it offers a type of… “less is more” approach. In a brief time, I found out that most of the presentation functionalities I am used to, were also supported in SlideWiki, allowing me to focus on the content of each slide. There were, though, some elements of maturity concerning the project. The platform had some occasional glitches, which could be overcome by the fact that I could directly edit the html code of each slide. I am sure that in time, SlideWiki will mature and become a very competitive solution in presentation editing tools.
- SlideWiki, an EU-funded project, enables the collaborative creation of free teaching and learning materials. These include, for instance, slide sets, lecture notes and course content. What is special about this platform?
Dimitrios: The way authors can collaborate towards a common goal, advancing content development, seems to be one of its key features. The use of multilingualism, linking with sources, and questions, seem to be some other, very useful features. The open nature of the content, which users can share, with an appropriate open license, is something special.
Angelina: Slidewiki platform has a great potential in hosting multilingual content for a variety of themes that can kick start conversations, collaborations and provide richness to the educational experience, as well as the presentation experience. Our team could work on the slides at the same time and create content that can be used, commented upon and distributed by other users interested in the topic. The platform allowed the inclusion of sources, which helped enhance our educational material.
Ioannis: I acknowledge that the idea behind SlideWiki, is the freedom of knowledge. In that respect, I believe that SlideWiki fulfills its role as a content distribution platform available for free to the general public. I believe that there has been an enormous amount of work behind that project, which could achieve the necessary momentum in order to become a popular medium for redistributing knowledge. In order for this effort to bear fruit though, there must be a sustained work on the improvement of the stability of the platform and on the dissemination of it.
- According to your opinion, which are the target groups that can best benefit from using the SlideWiki platform?
Dimitrios: Anyone having Internet access can easily access the SlideWiki platform, download and reuse its source material for both teaching, collaborating, as well as for lifelong learning. Individuals who want to enhance their knowledge in specific areas may access the material themselves. Authors and educators can certainly benefit, as well as a big variety of groups (e.g. businesses and associations) working on common projects or presentations.
Angelina: Slidewiki as a platform does not limit its access to a specific audience. It is a useful alternative to less collaborative platforms. Organizing the material in thematic areas can facilitate access by a general audience. The platform can be used also by administrations, businesses, or individuals in order to explore its lifelong learning capacities.
Ioannis: Anyone can benefit from the SlideWiki platform. From primary school, to academia. From freelancers and renowned experts seeking to pass out knowledge, to business organizations. SlideWiki can be used in order for anyone to address everyone. And that is its strong point!
- How do you evaluate the importance of Open Course Ware and Open Educational Resources for all educational levels?
Dimitrios: A valuable tool for training and dissemination purposes that supports the culture of open access and open resources.
Angelina: People seek knowledge and the Internet has become a great source of educational material. A platform that is open and provides open educational resources created by experts is a valuable tool as it contributes to the knowledge base available with trustworthy information. The open character of the platform and the courses has the potential to bring knowledge to a greater audience who could not afford access to this knowledge otherwise.
Ioannis: People will always need knowledge, as it is the fuel that drives our societies. We need knowledge in order to work better, in order to be healthier, in order to live better. Usually the more we learn, the better we become. And the sign of our era, is that a new channel of sharing knowledge emerges to become the main source of information in the near future. Digital knowledge through the Internet is already replacing books. SlideWiki as a platform for free knowledge, represents the real meaning of learning, contributing in the advancement of people and communities.
- Do you or your organization plan to continue using SlideWiki in the future?
Dimitrios: Definitively. We plan keeping the material provided updated with all new developments, as long as the SlideWiki platform is available. We also plan suggesting relevant educational resources to the eHealth community.
Angelina: SlideWiki has great potential for expansion. As long as it is supported, we will use it as an open platform for creating and distributing courses for different target groups.
Ioannis: As long as the SlideWiki platform continues to be supported and technically improved, we could use it for creating and distributing content.
- Why do you consider the topic you presented as an important one?
Dimitrios: When we come to talk about interoperability for the coordinated delivery of healthcare services, there are many misconceptions. By providing the produced material, we believe that we add some clarity about what interoperability in eHealth is, and what are the expected benefits. The topic we addressed is key to understanding how to unlock seamless access to the citizen’s electronic health record. This is an area we have conducted both research as well as actual implementation at the local, regional, national, and cross-border level, and therefore we have significant experience we wanted to share.
Angelina: We chose this topic because it is very relevant to all of us. As citizens, we expect digital tools to become more present in our lives and facilitate our daily activities. There is very often the question why digital tools have not reached a wider use in healthcare. Our course provides some of the answers to this question. Interoperability is a concept that needs to be understood by all citizens. Information sharing at the point of need, citizen centered healthcare and continuity of care can only occur when interoperability issues have been adequately addressed. As citizens we need to understand the importance of interoperability and how we can benefit from it.
Ioannis: The topic is a very important one. Every aspect of our health is interpreted as data forming a digital alter ego which represent us in an electronic healthcare world. By understanding interoperability in eHealth, one can understand what are the fundamental technologies and transactions of personal medical information exchange at any level.
- Why did you consider promoting it through the Slidewiki project?
Dimitrios: Applying the principles of EIF in practice requires educated decision makers, healthcare professionals, and public. Because of the visibility of the project, and the open courseware principle, we believe that SlideWiki can serve as a good medium for spreading the word.
Angelina: SlideWiki platform is an open tool that can bring key messages to a wider audience. We chose to use it for our interoperability in eHealth course in order to facilitate that information to reach a wider audience.
Ioannis: As this is our area of expertise, we selected SlideWiki as a dissemination tool, for spreading the knowledge as an open course.