Participation in online continuing education
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OBJECTIVES: The ADAPT (ADapting pharmacists' skills and Approaches to maximize Patients' drug Therapy effectiveness) e-learning programme requires weekly participation in module activities and facilitated discussion to support skill uptake. In this study, we sought to describe the extent and pattern of, satisfaction with and factors affecting participation in the initial programme offering and reasons for withdrawal. METHODS: Mixed methods - convergent parallel approach. Participation was examined in qualitative data from discussion boards, assignments and action plans. Learner estimations of time commitment and action plan submission rates were calculated. Surveys (Likert scale and open-ended questions) included mid-point and final, exit and participation surveys. KEY FINDINGS: Eleven of 86 learners withdrew, most due to time constraints (eight completed an exit survey; seven said they would take ADAPT again). Thirty-five of 75 remaining learners completed a participation survey. Although 50-60% of the remaining 75 learners actively continued participating, only 15/35 respondents felt satisfied with their own participation. Learners spent 3-5 h/week (average) on module activities. Factors challenging participation included difficulty with technology, managing time and group work. Factors facilitating participation included willingness to learn (content of high interest) and supportive work environment. Being informed of programme time scheduling in advance was identified as a way to enhance participation. CONCLUSIONS: This study determined extent of learner participation in an online pharmacist continuing education programme and identified factors influencing participation. Interactions between learners and the online interface, content and with other learners are important considerations for designing online education programmes. Recommendations for programme changes were incorporated following this evaluation to facilitate participation.
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