Tuesday, 18 November 2008

eSCART2008: an online course for low resource settings - the final report

Today I proudly post our (= ITM's) final report on the pilot course of our newly build full online course: eSCART2008.

I did write about the subject while the course was under construction, in that post I focused on the pre-survey we gave the learners.

For those interested, you can look at the the full report on the pilot in which you will find our modus of operandi, the changes we have made during the course, etcetera.

In a couple of weeks ITM starts another eLearning course for health care workers in the field specializing in ART (AntiRetroviral Therapy). The response for this course was overwhelming and we were booked immediately. This course was presented in a pilot phase (from IT perspective, the content is already full prove from years of experience but not in an eLearning fashion). We redesigned the face-2-face content so it meets eLearning Quality standards, but we also added specific eLearning features (more interactivity, (limited) social media). The coordinator of this medical eLearning course (and main tutor) is Verena Renggli she will go and work for the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Basel beginning 2009 (she returns to her home country: Switzerland).

We started with a big learner group (over 40) because we wanted to make sure our finishing group would still be relevant... it turned out that 84% of the learners finished the complete course because they were so enthusiastic about the delivered material! We had learners from all over the world (the Tropical world): South-Africa, Myanmar, Cambodia, Tanzania, Rwanda, Nigeria... so that made it quite a unique experience as well. An institute is lucky if it has such strong learners.

The pilot phase of eSCART, offered over 3 months, was a full success. Although the course was offered for free, the retention rate was very high (84%) and the course was highly appreciated by the participants. Through offering the course content not only online but also on a CD Rom, problems with connectivity could be limited. The 22% increase in the average score of the posttest compared to the pretest reflects the increase in knowledge of the participants. It is interesting to see that the increase in the score of the pre- and posttest during the face-to-face SCART is similar to that of eSCART (19% increase).
To offer an eLearning course is very work intense. Not only the development and constant updating of the course content required a lot of time, but also the tutoring of the course. The presence of the course and expert tutors was shown to be of high importance for the ongoing learning process and motivation of the students. In future, the group of participants should be limited to a maximum of 25-30 participants per course to maintain a good communication between course and expert tutor and the participants.
However, it can be stated that not only the participants did learn during the course, but also the course and expert tutors, through all the postings (comments, questions and answers to questions of colleagues) in the DF by the participants.

I am proud to be working in such a great, creative and strong eLearning team.