Academic journal article Journal of Education for Library and Information Science

The Impact of Multimedia Course Enhancements on Student Learning Outcomes

Academic journal article Journal of Education for Library and Information Science

The Impact of Multimedia Course Enhancements on Student Learning Outcomes

Article excerpt

An online course was redesigned to use multimedia applications to improve student learning and promote meaningful engagement among classmates and course activities and materials. Consumer Health Informatics (CHI) is a masters-level course that examines Internet-based and telehealth models for delivering health information to consumers. When first offered in 2007, the delivery format was primarily textual. Following the course redesign in 2008, the course materials, including weekly topical discussion forums, projects, and course evaluations, were compared. Qualitative content analyses and statistical comparison of quantitative data demonstrated significant improvements in the level of students' engagement in course materials and with peers. Students' attitudes and perceptions recorded in course evaluations also showed significant changes.

Keywords: virtual learning, multimodal learning, student learning outcomes, content analysis, comparative data analysis

This project compared two sections of the same online course taught by the same instructor in 2007 and 2008, to de- termine whether the changes resulted in tangible improvements in student perfor- mance or attitude. Consumer Health In- formatics (CHI) is a masters-level, fully web-based course. Students from the In- diana University Schools of Library & Information Science, Nursing, and Infor- matics examine Internet-based and telehealth models for delivering health information to consumers. After being taught once, the CHI course was up- graded with support from an internal uni- versity course development grant. The grant sought to integrate multimedia ap- plications and multimodal instruction (text, visuals, audio, etc.) into the course to improve student learning and promote more meaningful engagement with class- mates, and with course activities and ma- terials. After delivering the course in spring 2007 and the revised course in spring 2008, the author undertook quali- tative and quantitative analyses of online course materials to determine whether student performance and attitudes im- proved between the two generations, and if so, to what extent. Multiple data sources were used, including: (1) grades on three major assignments, (2) course participation scores, (3) course evalua- tion scores, and (4) a content analysts of randomly selected weekly discussion fo- rum conversations. Together, these data provided a snapshot of students' engage- ment and course learning outcomes. Qualitative content analysis and statisti- cal comparisons of quantitative data showed significant improvements from 2007 to 2008 in the level of students' en- gagement in course materials and with peers in discussion forums. Students' at- titudes and perceptions recorded in end-of-the-semester evaluations also showed significant improvement. These results illustrate the efficacy of multimodal learning techniques in virtual education.

Trends in the Distance and Online Learning Literature

The early literature on higher education online distance learning compared learning outcomes and learners' attitudes about their course experiences in traditional versus web-based or distance environments. From this literature, the no significant difference phenomenon emerged, providing evidence that technology neither improved nor retarded educational quality. Largely based on the analyses of more than 350 research articles and papers published from 1928 to 1999, the no significant difference phenomenon referred to the fact that the majority of studies identified no significant differences between student learning outcomes and overall course grades in distance environments versus traditional classroom settings (Russell, 1999).

As distance education became a mainstream instructional mode the focus shifted to the attributes of students who performed well in online environments (Rovai, 2002b, 2003). Issues and concerns addressed in this literature included the cost effectiveness of web-based instruction, advantages and disadvantages of synchronous and asynchronous communication, evaluation methods for both students and instructors, time management issues, instructional design, faculty and student computing skills and training, infrastructure and administrative support, and faculty reward systems (Carr-Chellman & Duchastel, 2000; Garrett, Lundgren, & Nantz, 2000; Kochtanek & Hein, 2000). …

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