Learning outcomes of webinar versus classroom instruction among baccalaureate nursing students: A randomized controlled trial
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There is increased pressure in universities and in the business community to use online methods for adult education. Historically asynchronous technologies have dominated distance education programs. Asynchronous technologies allow the learner any time access to learning activities. Technology has now progressed and synchronous or real-time interactive technologies such as webinars are proliferating. Despite increasing use, research on educational effectiveness is lacking in published research. If evidence is to guide educational practice research of sufficient rigor is required. A two-group experimental posttest only study was therefore conducted to compare the differential effect of a 30 minute learning module delivered by webinar versus classroom instruction to 224 randomly assigned baccalaureate nursing students. The independent variable was the teaching modality (i.e., webinar versus classroom) and the dependent variable was learning outcomes as measured by the score achieved on an online proctored 30 minute posttest administered immediately after the teaching modality. The posttest was a custom exam developed by Elsevier HESI® Testing, a company experienced in the development oftest items based on the NCLEX-RN® blueprint. The andragogy in practice model and Bloom's revised taxonomy formed the conceptual framework for the study. Webinar participants received the learning module in a classroom via an individual computer and audio/voice headset and classroom participants in a regular classroom without computers. The learning module was taught on the same day by the researcher using the same PowerPoint lecture, with 5 minutes between the groups to minimize opportunities for exchange of information. Study protocols were carefully followed to ensure both groups received equal attention. The researcher hypothesized that participants randomly assigned to the webinar group would score higher on the posttest than classroom participants. A significant Levene's test of homogeneity prompted the use of the Welch's t-test. Based on an alpha of .05 and a one-tailed test, the research hypothesis was not supported. No significance difference in learning outcomes was noted between the groups (p = .40). In this study of undergraduate nursing students a webinar was as effective as classroom instruction. Suggestions for further webinar research with other outcomes, in other settings, and with other populations, are explicated.