Tag Archives: e-learning

Assessment of E-learning Needs Among Students of Colleges of Education

Reviewed By: Jon Andersen, Alisa Brandt, Megan Ginther, Desiree Gordon

Link to article:  http://tojde.anadolu.edu.tr/yonetim/icerik/makaleler/936-published.pdf

Assessment of E-Learning Needs among Students of Colleges of Education
Reviewed by Group 4: Needs Assessment of Embedded Librarianship. Group members: Megan Ginther, Jon Andersen, Alisa Brandt, Desiree Gordon

Article Synopsis:
In this article Azimi (2013) begins by exploring the literature for a definition of e-learning and to identify it as a growing field for higher education in many fields. In addition, he explores the literature for needs assessment articles on which to model his study. This allows Azimi a working understanding of different methods for providing e-learning and different approaches to needs assessments. Azimi (2013) then develops a needs assessment survey to identify the needs of various groups of students in regards to e-learning opportunities. This needs assessment was carried out with students at the University of Mysore. The main idea was that if students were introduced and offered e-learning opportunities it would mean that as educators they would be more comfortable using e-learning in their future classrooms. Azimi (2013) wants to identify areas where students need more support to become comfortable with e-learning both as students and as future educators. He theorizes that differences in gender, government aid status, and subject area of specialization may have an impact on student needs.

Methods Used:
The major method used by Azimi (2013) was a qualitative study utilizing a needs assessment survey to identify how e-learning methods could meet the needs of students in a Bachelor of Education program. Azimi (2013) examined the results to identify differences in needs for male and female students, government financial aid students, and students in the Sciences, Arts or Languages. The survey was a paper-based survey distributed randomly to students in the Bachelor of Education program. The survey consisted of two parts. A demographic data section where he collected information about gender, work experience, financial aid standing, and which subject area the student specialized in. The second part was designed to identify the student’s understanding of e-learning system components such as: instructional design; multimedia components; internet tools; computers and storage devices; and connections and service providers. He targeted 374 students with his survey.

Findings and Conclusions:
Azimi (2013) identified that most students were comfortable navigating internet tools and using video streaming and text tools. Areas where students identified the least comfort were with instructional design, mobile technology, asynchronous learning, and mobile technology. There was no noticeable difference between male and female students in these needs or in government-aided versus unaided students. There was also no significant difference between students specializing in Science, Arts or Languages. He did identify a significant correlation between gender and government aid; more female students were in government-aided programs than male students. In addition Azimi (2013) concludes that students need more support in understanding and clarifying the benefits of e-learning. He writes, “Moreover, students (as future teachers) should be made aware of the potential of various e-learning technologies for enhancing the teaching and learning process. Clarification of the incentives and elimination of obstacles to fully integrate e-learning is needed” (Azimi, 2013, p.282).

Unanswered Questions and Future Research:
This study does identify some areas where the colleges can strengthen their instruction regarding e-learning to help students be more comfortable with it and offering it in the future. However, Azimi’s (2013) major theory was not supported by this study and he could not prove that gender, financial aid status or subject area of study had any impact on students’ confidence with e-learning. We believe his theory was not supported by the research he cited in his literature review. Many of the articles he cited spoke more about e-learning confidence being built by explicit teaching about e-learning for educators. A future direction for follow up would be to explore whether students who have taken courses through e-learning are more comfortable than students with no e-learning background. Another factor that could be considered would be whether explicit courses teaching students about e-learning could have an impact on student confidence with e-learning methodology. We suspect that students who are taught about e-learning methods and have taken courses through e-learning would be most comfortable offering e-learning courses in the future. While students with no e-learning courses would be the least comfortable.

While student background had no impact on student’s comfort with and knowledge of e-learning system components Azimi (2013) does identify that there seems to be a link between gender and the need for government aid and in addition between subject area of concentration and government aid. Both of these issues could be explored in more depth although we believe there have been other studies dealing with these issues, especially gender issues. It seems intuitive that women would require more government aid to attend school than men especially, in a developing country where gender equality is still far from achieved. Factors such as less family support and planning for women to attend school would contribute to the need for more government aid. One question we had was whether there were more government aid programs available to encourage women to attend school and whether that would play a factor in the results Azimi (2013) reported.

The link between need for government aid and subject area of study could be an interesting follow up study to try to determine what causes students in the arts to require more financial aid than students in the sciences. We theorize that this may be due to more women going into the arts fields than the sciences so this result may also be tied into the gender issue. However, it could also indicate that students from lower socio-economic stratas are more likely to enroll in Arts fields rather than sciences and we wonder if this could be due to gaps in early science education caused by lack of access to science education tools. There are many questions in this area that could be explored.

References:

Azimi, H.M. (2013). Assessment of e-learning needs among students of colleges of education. Turkish Online Journal of Education, 14(4). Retrieved from https://doaj.org/article/3e8c2b89e99d4157900bcf8c54032b26

A Randomised Controlled Trial Comparing the Effect of E-learning, with a Taught Workshop, on the Knowledge and Search Skills of Health Professionals

Reviewed By: Heather Campbell, Marisa Eytalis, Gloria Nguyen, Bracha Schefres, Stacy Sorrells

Link to article: http://ejournals.library.ualberta.ca/index.php/EBLip/article/view/54/155

Article synopsis and core research question

Nichola Pearce-Smith (2006) conducted a study to answer her main research question: Is there a significant difference between self-directed learning using web-based resources and learning in a traditional classroom-based workshop for healthcare professionals trying to improve their database searching skills? Her objective was to test two different null hypotheses: 1) There is no difference between the two interventions being compared, and 2) That there would be no difference before and after either educational intervention.
Recognizing that searching for evidence is an essential job skill that healthcare professionals need to have, and trainings are thought to improve their skills, Pearce-Smith’s literature review could only find some evidence of that and most studies were “small and methodologically poor” (p. 45). This study was published in 2006, so there was not a lot of evidence showing the effects of e-learning and whether or not it improves knowledge in health care professionals. She did find one qualitative study that found no differences between two groups who participated in workshops versus e-learning. Since the literature on this subject was not evident, the author designed and conducted her research study between September 2004 and September 2005.

Methods used to answer the research question

The methods used in this study was a controlled trial of 17 health care professionals randomized into two groups. The study population was a convenience sample drawn from the Oxfordshire Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust (ORHT) and recruited via an invitation letter by mail or email from the Trust’s intranet and email list or elicited through posters and leaflets displayed throughout the hospital. Researcher acknowledged that participants might have been more inclined to volunteer for the trial since they may wish to learn or improve their searching skills. In order to be included in the study, participants must work within ORHT and have access to the Internet. To test both null hypotheses, participants were randomized into two groups using computer-generated random numbers. Both groups completed a search exercise before the training to get a baseline of their ability and another after training to measure if any improvement was achieved. The first group (WG) attended a two-hour search skills workshop conducted by a librarian while the second group (EG) were shown how to access the online learning module which included question formulation, study design, free text thesaurus and Boolean searching training, and examples of searching PubMed and Cochrane Library.

Findings and conclusions

Findings:
The study found that while there was a slight increase in the knowledge and search skills of each group, this increase was not significant. Also, while the workshop group did perform better at devising a search strategy, there was no other notable difference in the improvement between the two groups answering the first null hypothesis. The second null hypothesis, that there would not be a difference between the knowledge and search skills of either group after the online or workshop training, was accepted.

Conclusions:
While the second null hypothesis was accepted, the results were largely inconclusive due to the small sample size. Several factors contributed to the lack of participation. The initial research question is still an important one, and the authors hope that others will build off of their research and methodology to explore this topic further.

Unanswered questions you have and what future research might address

More than once the author/researcher pointed out that the results of this study are inconclusive due to the small sample size. Contributing factors to the small sample size and inconclusive results were that compensation was not provided to the participants, clinical staff participants are generally hard to acquire, and a second test search skills test administered at a later day may reveal true search skill retention. The author/researcher provides her suggestions to gain significant results which include, seeking participants early, providing compensation “use different contact methods” and make “inclusion criteria as wide as possible.”
Collaboration with library staff to conduct this type of study is necessary and once established, along with the e-learning course, a longer study period may be possible. The librarian(s) could collect participant data, provide consent forms and pre-intervention tests (to find or willing participants and the researcher could obtain the extant data at a later date/once the (WG) group reaches a larger number. The researcher can also obtain the e-learning information on demand and postpone the second round of testing (in a clinical setting) once a larger number of study participants has been reached. Stratified randomization could then be used to analyze a larger participant group. Another possible question would be to find out how accessibility was addressed/accommodated (i.e. language barriers) for this study?

A thoughtful attempt to answer your own questions

Is there a significant difference between self-directed learning using web-based resources and learning in a traditional classroom-based workshop for healthcare professionals trying to improve their database searching skills? The author’s objective was to test two different insignificant theories and ultimately, there are no differences between the knowledge and search skills of either group after the online or workshop training.
The other question raised was due to the limited number of participants, how was accessibility addressed for this study? Since the study was easier to maneuver with such a small sample group, the accessibility of the study was more attainable. The author designed the online learning resource, and this was made available on the web, and it was password protected so that only EG participants could access it. The content included question formulation, study design, free text, thesaurus and Boolean searching. An experienced librarian, who used methods such as presentations, live Internet demonstrations, and interactive group work, taught the WG.
Lastly, how would the sample group be increased from being a small group to a larger sample group? Health professionals could have been encouraged to participate by offering incentives such as prizes: book tokens, wine, free passes to festivals, gift cards, etc. Another thing could have been more funding, like any other study or research, there are monetary funds that need to be utilized to complete a successful research. Web-based resources are costly, and not everyone can have easy access to such materials.

References:

Pearce-Smith, N. (2006). A randomized controlled trial comparing the effect of E-learning, with a taught workshop, on the knowledge and search skills of health professionals. Evidence-Based Library and Information Practice. 1:(3), 44-56.