1 Institut National de Santé Publique du Québec et Université de Montréal (CANADA)
2 Institut National de Santé Publique du Québec (CANADA)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2011 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Pages: 6203-6212
ISBN: 978-84-614-7423-3
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 5th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-9 March, 2011
Location: Valencia, Spain
An online graduate microprogram in public health was created in January 2007 by the Université de Montréal, in collaboration with the Institut national de santé publique du Québec, Université de Sherbrooke and Université du Québec à Montréal. It consists of nine courses and 720 training hours. Several circumstances made its realization easier. The project was designed through a rigorous procedure: a training needs assessment as well as a survey aimed at identifying educational preferences and the use of technology among the targeted clientele, the identification and validation of disciplinary and cross-competencies to be developed, technological and educational support, elaboration of effective educational design (components of each competency, targeted skill level, indicator behaviour that the competency element was reached at the targeted level, program consistency, formative and summative assessment, active learning). Four workshops were scheduled to train professors/course designers, and a website was set up for collaboration and document sharing, in order to foster communication and information sharing among the professors/course designers. Despite the available resources, there were delays at each step of several course designs. The time required for designing an online course varied from eight to 40 months. The main objective of this presentation is to identify the constraints experienced by professors/course designers that could help explain production delays in online course design.

An online questionnaire was offered through Survey MonkeyTM, to 28 professors/main and associate course designers, as well as to facilitators of the microprogram. An additional three hour long meeting helped deepen the reflection on online course design through the examination of issues experienced by the various participants. Quantitative and descriptive analyses were performed.

Among the respondents to the survey (16/28) only two had had some previous e-learning experience. On average the professors/course designers had attended two e-learning workshops. The majority of them reported feeling only slightly comfortable with the educational design method and the technical tools. They made very little use of the communication tools or the web site. Lack of time, insufficient remuneration for the amount of work performed, as well as unforeseen work incidents were reported as being the main factors which slowed down the production of course content. Professors/course designers requested better interaction mechanisms, the involvement of facilitators from the very beginning of the project, and the creation of a quality control office in order to avoid redundancies and discrepancies, as well as to foster links between the various microprogram courses. They also expressed a desire for continued support in the use of the competency-based approach and of e-learning through the use of sufficiently popularized educational methods.

The novelty of online training and the competency-based approach forces most professors/course designers to make additional efforts in order to grasp the concepts of this new approach, its technological devices, and group working methods. Moreover, online courses design should be included in professors’ work plans.