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This article in NSE

  1. Vol. 39 No. 1, p. 102-108
     
    Received: Oct 3, 2008


    * Corresponding author(s): theresam@u.arizona.edu
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doi:10.4195/jnrlse.2008.0037

Online Learning Modules for an Extension Program: Useful and Utilized?

  1. Theresa M. Crimmins *a and
  2. Candice L. Rupprechtb
  1. a Office of Arid Lands Studies, Univ. of Arizona, 1955 E. Sixth St., Tucson, AZ 85719
    b Arizona Cooperative Extension, Univ. of Arizona, P.O. Box 210036, Tucson, AZ 85721

Abstract

A set of publicly available online learning modules was created as an educational supplement to a university extension program. Because the modules created for this program—like many online modules developed as a part of university outreach—are supplementary to programs featuring in-person instruction and hard-copy materials, it is not required that they be completed. An exploratory evaluation aimed to determine whether program participants make use of the non-compulsory modules and whether the modules are effective in helping participants to gain a greater understanding of watershed concepts. Such findings may extend to similar supplementary online learning experiences being developed through university extension and other similar programs. Participants in the evaluation demonstrated a >30% increase in content knowledge from pre-test scores to post-test scores; 70% of participants retained this knowledge through a 2-month follow-up test. Participants also provided very positive feedback regarding their experience with the modules. Online usage statistics indicated sustained site visitation for many months following the modules’ release and advertisement. Modules were found to be an asset to the hard-copy text used for the extension course. Evaluators expressed appreciation for interactive learning objects and seemed to use the modules over time as a ready reference. However, the modules are clearly not a substitute for in-person instruction. Overall, the exploratory evaluation indicated that the modules were a welcome supplement to the course and were effective in reinforcing key concepts.

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