The Science Journal of the American Association for Respiratory Care

2009 OPEN FORUM Abstracts

DISTANCE LEARNING AND THE INTERNET IN RESPIRATORY THERAPY EDUCATION

Sarah Varekojis1, Elbie Foote2; 1Respiratory Therapy Division, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH; 2Respiratory Therapy Department, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH

BACKGROUND: Distance education may be able to at least partially address the continuing and increasing demand for respiratory therapists and the need for additional training as the field advances. OBJECTIVES: This study assesses current uses of distance education in respiratory therapy education, as well as the beliefs and opinions regarding appropriate use of distance education. The advantages of and barriers to distance education from the perspective of the educational program directors were examined. METHODS: An on-line survey instrument was designed to measure the various aspects of distance education in RT education. The survey was sent to 343 accredited RT educational programs that offered either advanced or entry-level preparation. RESULTS: The response rate was 39.6%. 52.1% of respondents indicated that some form of on-line education was utilized in the curriculum. Internet-facilitated and blended/hybrid courses were most common followed by exclusively on-line courses. The most common type of course offered as either internet facilitated, blended/hybrid or on-line was didactic only. The most common type of course offered as face-to-face was a clinical course (62%). Directors anticipate that each type of course offering will stay relatively the same, and they believed internet facilitated courses facilitate student success and accommodate varied learning styles and preferences. Many barriers to on-line education were identified, including inability to provide quality laboratory experiences and the increase in time for course implementation and maintenance. However, the respondents felt that on-line education provided the opportunity to make enhanced learning resources available to students and provided active learning. CONCLUSION: A clear preference for face-to-face and internet-facilitated courses was identified. The internet was identified as being useful for dissemination of information and for facilitating communication. However, respondents viewed the laboratory and clinical settings as hands-on environments that require supervision from instructors for demonstration of skill acquisition and problem solving. These results indicate that distance education plays an important role in respiratory therapy education, and that purely online courses might not be the best method for delivering much of the integral components of a respiratory therapy curriculum. Sponsored Research - None

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