Development and evaluation of the use of the Internet as an educational tool in occupational and environmental health and medicine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Authors:
  • Raymond Agius
  • G. Bagnall

Abstract

The Internet, and specifically the World Wide Web (WWW), has an important role as a method of learning in occupational and environmental health and medicine. This paper provides a systematic overview of the demands and merits of this approach to learning in a range of higher education courses in these disciplines. Drawing on a relevant theoretical framework for understanding how students learn, it describes the design and evaluation of specific resources developed for students to learn using the WWW. The occupational and environmental health or medicine components of two undergraduate degree courses and of two postgraduate courses were reviewed to determine what learning objectives would be achievable by adapting extant conventional material, or by developing new teaching and learning resources for the WWW. Depending on the objectives, various learning resource formats were developed including descriptive, interactive (such as case study or data-based), reference and self-assessment. One WWW based tutorial consisting of an interactive resource with defined objectives, linked to constantly updated, in-house information and external links, was chosen as a representative for detailed evaluation. Process evaluation was based on student feedback, and outcome evaluation on group reports submitted on completion of the tutorial. Twelve of the 13 students who completed the tutorial returned the feedback questionnaire. All but one student rated it as 'good' or 'very good', with the majority of students reporting that it was easy to follow. Open-ended comments suggested that students valued the flexibility, timeliness, efficiency and breadth of access to relevant information offered by the WWW. The outcome evaluation showed that all the main learning objectives had been achieved. This work indicates that the WWW can be a valuable learning resource for occupational and environmental health and medicine.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337-343
Number of pages6
JournalOccupational Medicine
Volume48
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1998