This three-day workshop was conducted at the Kamuzu College of Nursing (KCN), Lilongwe, Malawi. The instructor was Lenny Rhine, Librarians Without Borders/Medical Library Association (USA). Ms. Diana Mawindo, Malawi University, Polytechnic College, assisted as the facilitator. Funding for the workshop was provided by Research4Life and the Elsevier Foundation.
This workshop initially was discussed by the instructor and facilitator who met at the May 2015 Medical Library Association Annual Meeting. While we needed several years to obtain funding plus had a change in venue and dates, we were most pleased to conduct this course since the previous Hinari training in this country was 2008.
The local organization/logistics were handled excellently by Dr. Kondwani Wella, KCN and Ms. Ellen Thom, WHO Country Office/Malawi. This included identifying and communicating with the participants, coordinating the logistics with the venue and preparing all the necessary materials for the workshop. The KCN’s computer lab was the site of the training. Due to the purchase of two hotspot devices for laptops, the bandwidth was reliable and speedy. Also, the breaks and lunches were timely and well prepared. The ICT staff was attentive to the workshop needs which included the downloading of Zotero software, and Ms. Mawindo activities as a facilitator were most helpful.
The attendees were a mix of staff from eight institutions predominantly in the health field with several participants from Research4Life registered institutions in related disciplines (e.g. Lilongwe University of Agriculture & Natural Resources – LUANAR - and the National Commission for Science and Technology). In total, twenty-five individuals attended the workshop and were predominantly information professionals but also included several faculty from KCN. Most of the individuals were based in Lilongwe although several participants were from Blantyre and other cities. Ironically, no individuals from initial venue (College of Medicine/Blantyre) participated although the staff was contacted in writing and by phone.
Since Malawi is a Group A country, the institutions are granted access for free. There are a minimal number publishers who do not grant access to their resources within the country. This results in the institutions being able to retrieve almost all the e-journals, e-books and other material that are available via the Hinari portal.
In the three day workshop, the objectives were to have the participants learn the skills for accessing/utilizing HINARI and related Internet resources effectively and efficiently. Equally important was for the participants to master how to promote these resources and train the various groups at their institutions. We further focused on the information requirements of the various ‘user groups’ at the participating institutions and how to meet these needs.
The modules covered included searching skills, HINARI portal, HINARI/PubMed (website, filters, history and advanced search), the alternate Summon search tool for HINARI (journals and e-books), MY NCBI accounts, evidence-based medicine, e-book and Internet resources for Hinari users, Zotero reference management software- very well received - plus, to a lesser extent, authorship skills material (How to read and write a scientific paper, Copyright and Plagiarism, Web-bibliography of publishing resources including the Authoraid website).
Besides the Hinari and resources, the workshop also discussed tools for identifying useful information on the Internet (non-governmental and intergovernmental agencies Google custom searches, a thesis and several open access directories and e-book sources). Also included was a group project where individuals completed a ‘marketing plan’ for their institutions.
At the end of the workshop, the participants completed a post-workshop survey. Ninety-five percent of the participants ‘agreed’ that the workshop was well organized, had relevant material with useful ‘hands-on’ exercises, that the trainer was knowledgeable/organized, the instructor was an effective presenter and responsive to questions and that the workshop resulted in their obtaining useful knowledge and skills. According to the participants, major strengths of the workshop included Demos/Hands on, Information Gained, Support Material and Networking.
There was a broader reply to the ‘length was appropriate for course content’ question. The responses were 67% replying ‘agree’ and another 33% noting ‘somewhat agree’ or ‘disagree’ options. This is similar to the results of many other workshop surveys as it is difficult to balance the different time needs of twenty-five participants – particularly for the hands-on activities. A subsequent evaluation will be in six months which will focus on the use of Hinari and training conducted at the respective institutions.
The pre-workshop knowledge of the participants was quite good (i.e., 50% of the individuals had used Google Scholar and PubMed). Consequently, the participants were able to understand the material and, for most, complete the hands-on exercises in a timely fashion.
The group displayed a positive, interactive style that could be observed by the questions and during several group activities. Of particular note was the completion of the marketing plans and accompanying discussion. There was an excellent dialog between the participants on how to implement these plans in an academic setting – what are the barriers, what has worked and how to further integrate information literacy skills into the curriculum. Several of the lecturers added comments on the importance of this instruction for the students and faculty.
The trainer commented during the workshop that ‘This was as good a group of informational professionals (librarians) as any other workshop.’ This comment was based the initial knowledge and skills of the group, the activities completed during the workshop and, of equal importance, the understanding of the outgoing/promoting role that information professions need to utilize.
Noted below is a quote from one of the survey respondents:
"It is safe to say this is the most useful and productive workshop I’ve ever attended. The training was timely as part of my work requires teaching student about various info electronic resources available at our library."