MANUSCRIPT: Using Technology, Bioinformatics and Health Informatics Approaches to Improve Learning Experiences in Optometry Education, Research and Practice
Rapid advances in ocular diagnostic approaches and emerging links of pathological changes in the eye with systemic disorders have widened the scope of optometry as the front line of eye health care. Expanding professional requirements stipulate that optometry students get a meticulous training in relevant information and communication technologies (ICT) and various bioinformatics and health informatics software to meet current and future challenges. Greater incorporation of ICT approaches in optometry education can facilitate increased student engagement in shared learning experiences and improve collaborative learning. This, in turn, will enable students to participate in and prepare for the complex real-world situations. A judicious use of ICTs by teachers in learning endeavors can help students develop innovative patterns of thinking to be a successful optometry professional. ICT-facilitated learning enables students and professionals to carry out their own research and take initiatives and thus shifts the equilibrium towards self-education. It is important that optometry and allied vision science schools adapt to the changing professional requirements with pedagogical evolution and react appropriately to provide the best educational experience for the students and teachers. This review aims to highlight the scope of ICT applications in optometry education and professional development drawing from similar experiences in other disciplines. Further, while enhanced use of ICT in optometry has the potential to create opportunities for transformative learning experiences, many schools use it merely to reinforce conventional teaching practices. Tremendous developments in ICT should allow educators to consider using ICT tools to enhance communication as well as providing a novel, richer, and more meaningful medium for the comprehensive knowledge construction in optometry and allied health disciplines.