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Research Aims

The research project has a number of related aims.

1. To review on an ongoing basis the experience (satisfaction vs. dissatisfaction) and achievement of students in the blended programme

2. To implement changes to improve student experience and achievement.

3.Is blended learning effective in massage education?

Background

 

In recent years an increasing number of educational institutions have begun to offer their courses by online or blended delivery. Massage educators have been slow to adopt these contemporary approaches to learning, but there are now a number of educational institutions offering massage therapy education either purely online or with a blended style of delivery (Remedial massage, 2008; How can you, 2008). Within New Zealand a number of educational institutions are considering the exploration of educational options within this area (J. Morgan, personal communication June 14, 2008; B. Bernie, personal communication June 14, 2008; H. Lofthouse, personal communication June 29, 2008; T. Rodgers, personal communication June 14, 2008). Many massage education providers consider online and/or blended delivery education for massage therapy to be inferior to traditional class-room-based delivery models (P. Charlton, personal communication June 14, 2008; T. Rodgers, personal communication June 14,2008; A. Palmer, personal communication June 14, 2008).

The online environment is rapidly changing, and a course which aims to utilise the richness of contemporary online applications may often be involved in the use of a technology in a way which has not been documented previously. An experimental educational delivery style is therefore called for, where the teachers involved in online education trial the use of an online application with a group of students in a particular way, then assess how effective this educational experience has been. The integrated group of technologies which are used to deliver the course is described here as the online learning environment.

The Otago Polytechnic massage therapy programme has recently undergone the transition from a purely face-to-face delivery style to a blended delivery style. The programme’s delivery style is making use of contemporary online applications such as wikis, blogs, collaborative document editing, voice-over-internet-protocols (such as MSN messenger and skype). This is new ground for massage therapy education, and in many ways for education in general. The department feels that there is a need to monitor the student’s experience and achievement in this new context and to make changes to improve that experience over time.

Literature review

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I’ve been having a good time with Survey Monkey – Thanks Leigh. 🙂
Monkey picture comes courtesy of S.A.M. Licensed under CC-BY. http://www.flickr.com/photos/s-a-m/401970009/

Survey Monkey

I just set up my online experience survey on the web this morning, and am already getting the kind of information I need. The questions are

  1. Which of the learning modules have you started and which have you completed?
    The Study Skills course (which is what I’m assessing at present) is composed of a series of learning modules which have been built on the WikiEducator platform (still a work in progress) .
  2. How would you rate the difficulty of your online learning experience so far?
  3. What if anything are you finding difficult about studying online?
  4. What if anything are you finding enjoyable about studying online?

I’ve just checked in & 10 students have replied. 10/23 – I’m almost happy to treat that as a representative sample. I’m very happy with the class progress so far, and the quality of the information.

It’s funny – I’ve had the impression that much of the class was struggling, and I see now that it’s only because most of the class have been able to get on with it without needing to talk with me much. There is always a risk that the students who are less familiar with computer use will be lagging the others getting to the survey, I might need to touch base with them over the next couple of days to check.

I’m hoping to use this type of surveying as a type of action research, but I’ll need to go through the ethical approval process before embarking on it.

For now, it’s functional. I’m planning to run through an Introduction to Sustainability module soon. Before they get to the module they must be able to search effectively for information on the internet, and to communicate effectively online (as each group will include a distance student). Luckily it looks like most of them are already there. 🙂