How the Academy of Neurodiagnostic Technology uses Moodle to improve neurological healthcare

February 13, 2024 By Kit Germeroth

According to a report by The Lancet, neurological disorders are the leading cause of disability and the second leading cause of death worldwide. These disorders include epilepsy, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s disease, among others. 

Doctors rely on a range of neurologic tests to determine a diagnosis for each patient, including CT scans and electroencephalograms, or EEGs. An EEG records electrical activity in the brain to detect abnormalities in brain waves, which are then interpreted by specially trained neurologists. 

For individuals with epilepsy, seizure activity would show rapid spiking waves on the EEG. Patients who have lesions from tumors or stroke might have unusually slow EEG waves. The test can also be used to diagnose other disorders that influence activity in the brain, such as brain developmental disorders in children, neurodegenerative disorders, brain injuries, and infections. 

Unfortunately, there are still parts of the world where there is no educational infrastructure for EEG training. Dr. Maggie Marsh-Nation, Ph.D., sought to change that through the Academy of Neurodiagnostic Technology.

A mission to improve neurological healthcare

The Academy of Neurodiagnostic Technology offers basic training on how to perform EEGs for technologists in parts of the world where there is no existing educational infrastructure. Courses are offered free of charge with the goal of educating those who will then become the educators, building the first generation of neurodiagnostic technology (NDT) professionals. 

Dr. Marsh-Nation, who holds a Certification for Neurophysiological Intraoperative Monitoring (CNIM), says the intention for the courses is to establish a foundation for individuals to jumpstart their careers, and then eventually, schools will develop. “I am using it to build new career paths that will lead to better healthcare for patients with epilepsy, stroke, developmental disorders, neurological disorders, brain tumors, and neurological injury. In some parts of the world, these problems go untreated because of a shortage of trained neurodiagnostic professionals.”

The first students were in Ethiopia and Nigeria, then other countries on the African continent, followed by India. The courses are only offered to individuals in countries that don’t already have an educational system for NDT. 

Students are all ages, and some already have some experience with EEG, but are now preparing to take credentialing exams. The courses are self-paced and in English.

Using Moodle for EEG training

Dr. Marsh-Nation had experience using a for-profit learning management system for another project with The Neurodiagnostic Society. Her team was thrown into crisis mode when the LMS was sold and then went bankrupt. 

She turned to Moodle after hearing that it was easy to use, flexible, reliable, and compatible with other development tools. She also appreciates that, being open source, there is user influence over future feature developments.   

Dr. Marsh-Nation says, “When our proprietary LMS went bankrupt, the society had to make a quick and economic choice. I had seen Moodle presented at the eLearning Guild by an instructional designer at a university. I liked the modular design. It was built to work well with new developments in content presentation, video, animation, and evaluation. I still think it’s the best LMS because it’s so stable and it evolves and adapts to new modular content.” 

For the Academy’s EEG training courses, Moodle’s quiz system allows Maggie to put questions into categories and then reference them, making it easy to find and update them later. Exams can be programmed so that they will be different each time, but they’ll always have the same number of questions from each category, randomly selected, and the answers will be shuffled each time. This makes a great system for creating practice exams for certification exams.

Dr. Marsh-Nation says, “It has been amazing to watch a group of people grow, in my field, who see the problem and want to help. More and more there are opportunities for learning without the high costs. More people are offering their time, traveling to developing countries to provide educational seminars. It has been my pleasure to watch schools develop. Leaders and teachers are taking on roles of responsibility to train others. It is beautiful to see.”

The program has 771 learners and continues to grow. Dr. Marsh-Nation hopes to expand to other countries and looks forward to helping train professionals in NDT everywhere.

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