Assessing the Evidence for the Educational Efficacy of Webinars and Related Internet-Based Instruction

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The proliferation of webinars and other similar web-based educational offerings attests to the interest in this instructional modality on the part of educators and learners in the public health workforce. While certain advantages of Internet-based training, including time and costs savings for learners, are evident, it is important to establish the impact of this medium on a variety of health care disciplines. To this end, a search was performed of individual studies and review articles published since 2005 that discuss the use of these methodologies by several disciplines in the domain of public health, with particular attention on randomized controlled trials and meta-analytic studies. Reports over the past decade support the belief that the health care workforce is generally satisfied with Internet-based training and that this type of training yields measurable changes in knowledge and behavior. Overall, the data strongly suggest that these techniques are better than no intervention and essentially equivalent to conventional instructional techniques. However, the specific elements that actually improve the educational value of web-based educational technologies and the evidence base for best practices in the field have yet to be identified.

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