A study of the effectiveness of using distance education to present training programs to Extension Service Master Gardener trainees Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/05741v947

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  • Despite the availability of distance education technology, Oregon State University Extension Service educators have made limited use of this equipment for delivery of educational programs to clients of the state's 36 county Extension Service offices. Some Extension educators may be hesitant to use distance technology because they are unsure whether clients will accept distance delivered programming. This project explored this issue, framed in the question: Is distance education received favorably or unfavorably by volunteer adult learners? A volunteer learner is defined as one who seeks to gain knowledge while interacting with others who share like interests, a description that fits many Extension Service clients. Other questions in the project were: How much do volunteer learners learn from distance delivered instruction compared to traditional instruction? and How much do volunteer learners interact with instructors and each other in the distance classroom compared to the traditional classroom? Participants in the project were adults taking part in the MG training program in February 1993 in five Oregon counties. These adult learners participated in two 90-minute instructional segments; part one, 'Landscaping for Wildlife' and part two, 'Controlling Wildlife in the Home Landscape.' Part one was delivered via satellite delivery. Part two was delivered to participants in person by the instructor. In both parts, learners were pre- and post-tested on the subject matter presented. Learners also completed opinion surveys for each session. Audio tapes were made of each session for analysis of learner-learner, and learner-instructor interaction. Also, the Extension agents acting as downlink site coordinators in the project were interviewed to assess their opinions of the distance education session. Comparison of the data indicate that learners felt the quality of learning experience in both modes of program delivery was about equal. Also, the testing component indicated that participants learned about the same amount of material. Interaction analysis results indicated little or no difference in the amount of interaction in both the traditional and distance sessions. The results show that the effectiveness of distance delivery of Master Gardener training instruction to adult learners is equivalent to traditional delivery of training instruction for participants in this study.
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