Webber Training’s Teleclass Education is an international lecture series on infection prevention and control topics, which aims to bring the best possible information “to the widest possible audience with the fewest barriers to access”. For instance, members in developing nations are entitled to full access without cost. HQ had a chat with Paul Webber (in the photo), who heads up Webber Training Inc. and coordinates the teleclass program.
1) How does your Teleclass Education work?
Teleclass Education is a lecture series on topics around infection prevention and control. We invite top global experts to present a 1-hour lecture over the telephone to a live audience. The speakers’ slides are provided to registrants in advance, so that they can follow along as the speaker presents the talk. Then slides, handouts and the recording of the lecture are all posted to the website so those who are unable to join the live broadcast can access the online version. There is a free-access recordings library that anyone can make use of, without having to register as a member. The French-language, Spanish-language, and Portuguese-language teleclasses are recorded over the phone without a live audience, whose files are made available online. Each year (except 2020, of course) we are invited to broadcast lectures live from infection control conferences around the globe - variously including Infection Prevention and Control Canada, Infection Prevention Society in the UK, Infection Control Africa Network, Infection Prevention & Control Nurses College in New Zealand, Australian College of Infection Prevention and Control, and the Association of Infection Prevention and Control Professionals.
2) Was this project born with the pandemic or before?
Long, loooong before... almost two decades ago, very early in 2001, over the frustration expressed by professor Syed Sattar of the University of Ottawa. International scientific meetings were a key source for new and important information for the global healthcare community, particularly way back at the start of the millennium. However... how much of that information went back home and became useful? how many people were able to attend the conference? how many of those paid attention to the lecture? how many were even awake? That’s exactly why the mandate of Teleclass Education is providing the best possible infection prevention and control information, to the widest possible audience, with the fewest barriers to access.
3) Who are your clients? Any associations or events' organisers among them? Why did you decide to offer free access to people from developing countries?
Our membership (opt-in only) comes from every country on the planet and numbers around 100,000 people. For the most part they are healthcare professionals. Some provincial, state, or national governments register on behalf of their entire population, so that anyone among their population can join the teleclass series. Several infection control associations have made arrangements for their membership to have full and free access to Teleclass Education. Offering free access to members in developing countries was never a question. Sattar, who hails from Pakistan, and I are both very committed to encouraging infection control education in those areas. We financially support various infection control education initiatives worldwide, particularly in Africa, and we underwrite the cost to bring key infection control professionals in developing countries to conferences in other parts of the world.
4) What are the purposes of education during the historical events we are living?
One of my epidemiologist friends says that with all the news around COVID-19 his daughter finally understands what he does for a living. It’s all about education and adaptation. Spreading information is crucial, though the quality of information can sometimes be questionable in the midst of mass hysteria such as the current situation. Teleclass Education is not intended to share news, so most of the topics and speakers are drawn from articles published in the scientific journals, or talks that have been presented at conferences.
5) Do you believe your mission is receiving enough attention? What would help?
Teleclass Education is run entirely by groups of volunteers, all gainfully employed elsewhere, myself included. The only asset owned by Webber Training and Teleclass Education is some recording equipment and a comfy chair in my family room, where I work on teleclass stuff in the evenings and weekends. So we really can’t be much busier than we are just now, but I would love for more people (particularly those in developing countries) to know about Teleclass Education and be able to take advantage of the resources available to them. We have no profit mandate, so we have flexibility to present topics that would be of interest to a very narrow audience and receiving suggestions about those topics of interest would certainly be valuable.
6) What are your plans for 2021?
This year is our 20th anniversary and will undoubtedly be the most difficult. The hard part now is assembling a schedule for next year. Generally by this time, we will have the whole year scheduled, as well as all of the teleclass topics and all of the speakers. That isn’t the case today. Many of our potential speakers are deep in the fight against COVID-19 and are unable or unwilling to commit to speak. At present we have lectures booked by speakers from Canada, USA, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Nigeria, Singapore, UK, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Norway. With any luck we will be able to assemble at least 40 teleclass lectures by the end of the year. Luckily there are fantastic people like Martin Kiernan, Jane Barnett, Hilda Orozco, Maria Clara Padoveze and Adriana da Silva Feliz, among others, who do all of the heavy lifting of Teleclass Education and let me take all of the credit.
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