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Online learning supplements watershed program
Date:7/11/2010

MADISON, WI, July 12th, 2010 Are online learning modules beneficial to educational programs? The Arizona Master Watershed Steward program used online learning modules to help increase participant understanding of key watershed concepts. Even though the modules were not required, researchers found that participants both visited the sites on their own time and demonstrated an increase in content knowledge.

Researchers at the University of Arizona, led by Teresa Cummins, conducted an exploratory study on the online modules, designed to supplement hands-on classes taught by local experts and supported by an overview text, to help users increase their understanding of key concepts. They also sought to determine whether program participants would use the non-compulsory modules.

Their evaluation revealed that module users increased their understanding of key watershed concepts; participants in the evaluation demonstrated a 30% increase in content knowledge following module use. Additionally, 70% of participants retained this knowledge through a two-month follow-up test.

A follow-up survey showed that approximately half of the participants returned to the online modules on their own; several of these users returned several times and spent multiple hours per session. Comments from the follow-up survey suggested that the users accessed the site either as they had the time or as they needed the information.

Online usage statistics indicated participants continued to visit the site for many months following the modules' release and advertisement. Though many visits were very brief (a single pageview; only a couple of seconds), visitors with many returns to the site and/or long visits appeared to be working through the modules.

One participant stated, "My brain can only hold so much information; the modules keep information on-hand." Other participants commented that the modules were "more interesting and interactive" than t
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Contact: Sara Uttech
suttech@sciencesocieties.org
608-268-4948
American Society of Agronomy
Source:Eurekalert  

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