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Online discussion for block teaching in postgraduate health professionals’ curriculum: the Ethiopian experience

, 1 , 2

BMC Medical Education

BioMed Central

Online discussion, Block teaching, Ethiopia

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      Abstract

      Background

      Online discussions as a method of instruction are a new approach in Ethiopia. There is no previous study in the Ethiopian context that has assessed students’ engagement and learning experience using this instruction method, which may offer a valuable complement to other instruction methods for intensive block teaching in a resource-limited environment. The aim of this study was to assess the value of online discussions in supporting students’ engagement and interaction with their peers and teachers in a block teaching postgraduate health professionals’ curriculum.

      Methods

      The research was conducted at Addis Ababa University College of Health Sciences, School of Medical Laboratory Sciences (SMLS), which has structured the curriculum around intensive block teaching. Between December 2011 and February 2012, two groups of full-time (N = 21) and part-time (N = 52) postgraduate students participated in online discussions as part of a Biostatistics and Research Methods module, in addition to other instructional methods. Every week, the course instructor initiated the online discussion by posting an assignment and articles with a few discussion questions. To evaluate the participants’ collective learning experience, the content of the email messages generated during these online discussions was analyzed qualitatively.

      Result

      A total of 702 emails were exchanged during the three week module, of which 250 emails (35.6%) were posted by full-time students and 452 emails (64.4%) by part-time Continuing Education Program (CEP) students. During the online discussion forum, students identified different statistical data analysis tools and their application for given data sets. In terms of message contents, 67% of full-time and 64% of part-time students’ messages were classified as learning experiences. However, a slightly higher proportion of part-time students’ posts were social messages. The majority of students in both groups reported high levels of satisfaction with their online experience.

      Conclusion

      Online discussion could be a valuable addition to face-to-face classroom teaching to improve students’ engagement and interaction in an intensive block teaching postgraduate curriculum where learners are engaged in a full work load with academic studies.

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      Most cited references 11

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      Patterns of participation and discourse in elementary students’ computer-supported collaborative learning

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        Web-based learning: pros, cons and controversies.

         David A. Cook (2015)
        Advantages of web-based learning (WBL) in medical education include overcoming barriers of distance and time, economies of scale, and novel instructional methods, while disadvantages include social isolation, up-front costs, and technical problems. Web-based learning is purported to facilitate individualised instruction, but this is currently more vision than reality. More importantly, many WBL instructional designs fail to incorporate principles of effective learning, and WBL is often used for the wrong reasons (e.g., for the sake of technology). Rather than trying to decide whether WBL is superior to or equivalent to other instructional media (research addressing this question will always be confounded), we should accept it as a potentially powerful instructional tool, and focus on learning when and how to use it. Educators should recognise that high fidelity, multimedia, simulations, and even WBL itself will not always be necessary to effectively facilitate learning.
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          Comparison of Internet versus lecture instructional methods for teaching nursing research.

           M Woo,  J Kimmick (2016)
          Although many higher education programs are using the Internet to teach classes, there are few published reports on the effectiveness of this method on test scores or student satisfaction. The purpose of this study was to compare test and student satisfaction scores of graduate nursing students who take a nursing research course via the Internet with those of students who take the same course via traditional lecture instruction. In addition, student technical support use and Internet student lecture attendance also were examined. A total of 97 students (Internet, 44; lectures, 53) participated. There were no significant differences in test scores and overall course student satisfaction (P > .05). However, the Internet students reported significantly higher (P = .04) stimulation of learning compared with the traditional lecture students. Technical support use by the Internet students was high initially and was related to software problems. Of interest were the large proportion of Internet students (73 percent) who attended at least 3 of the 10 lectures. Use of the Internet to teach graduate-level nursing research can provide comparable learning and student satisfaction to traditional lecture instructional methods.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ]School of Medical Laboratory Sciences, College of Health Sciences, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
            [2 ]College of Health Sciences, School of Public Health, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
            Contributors
            Journal
            BMC Med Educ
            BMC Med Educ
            BMC Medical Education
            BioMed Central
            1472-6920
            2014
            12 February 2014
            : 14
            : 29
            24521146
            3924913
            1472-6920-14-29
            10.1186/1472-6920-14-29
            Copyright © 2014 Taye; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

            This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

            Categories
            Research Article

            Education

            block teaching, ethiopia, online discussion

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