New online learning programme
Dental expert pioneers global learning for
overseas health professionals
A project that began by helping dentists in Sri Lanka to
update their skills is set to blossom into a global online learning
resource for dental and medical professionals around the
Oral medicine specialist and lecturer Dr Senathirajah
Ariyaratnam (Raj) began visiting the Jaffna area of Sri Lanka in
2011 with support from CMFT Abroad. His aim was to help the 35
dentists and six dental therapists who serve a population of
750,000 people to update their skills and knowledge after the
country's devastating civil war.
Raj ran clinics and gave lectures to colleagues in Jaffna,
and helped them to set up a Continuing Professional Development
(CPD) organisation to run and validate courses, seminars and
conferences after he returned to the UK.
Using his annual leave from the University Dental School
and Hospital of Manchester, Raj went back to Sri Lanka in 2012 and
2014 and found that the quality of patient care had improved
significantly. Importantly, other specialists from Jaffna's
main teaching hospital were helping local dentists to increase
their knowledge of cardiology, dermatology and cancer, which all
have an impact on dental health.
"I was very keen to sustain all this professional
development activity and encourage it to grow," said Raj.
"Although I packed a lot of clinics, lectures and meetings into my
three-week visits, Sri Lankan colleagues were keen to do
Talking to CMFT Chairman Peter Mount and Professor Ian
Jacobs, Director of the Manchester Academic Health Science Centre
(MAHSC) and Dean of the University's Faculty of Medical and Human
Sciences, Raj came up with a great idea.
"We realised that we could use the
power and reach of the internet to create an online virtual
learning community accessible to colleagues anywhere in the world,"
he explained. "Starting with dental specialties, we are setting up
virtual class rooms and skill sharing workshops for overseas
colleagues, students and teachers, run by Manchester experts.
We hope the new Manchester Global Online Learning Forum (GOLF) will
eventually be a fantastic free resource, particularly for
developing countries and those where access to training is
GOLF is being developed by Raj together with University
e-learning technologists Mohammed Islam and Stuart Taylor, with
backing from CMFT and MAHSC. "GOLF can ultimately be used by
any academic discipline where Manchester teachers and trainers can
exchange ideas/knowledge with different parts of the globe using
various online tools. It also offers a great opportunity for us to
internationalise Manchester and at the same time allows us to
fulfil our global social responsibility to those less fortunate
than ourselves," added Raj.
Contact Raj for more details: