Sharonn Stewart*; A. Alison Plummer
Central Queensland University
Using information technology as a teaching tool has long been recognised as a creative and innovative way of teaching students. Recently it has attracted much attention as a potential cost-effective way of: encouraging and improving self-directed learning; providing learning tools to cater for different learning styles; reducing lecturer workloads; enhancing the flexible learning experience for distance education students; and marketing free-standing computer learning products.
The Faculty of Health Science (FHS) at Central Queensland University (CQU) has been a leader in introducing computer technology to its academic staff and students in an attempt to keep pace in a rapidly changing environment. In addition to ongoing efforts to train staff and encourage students to embrace computer technology, the faculty has taken the initiative to develop and implement in-house computer assisted learning programs (CAL). This began with the development of computer-based learning materials in 1988 in a project lead by Dr Lynn Zelmer and funded by the National Priority Reserve Fund. The journey of CAL development during the intervening nine years has evolved from the page-turning black and white programs developed in Hypercard to 'hyperactive' multimedia colour programs produced using the contemporary software development tool Macromedia Director. During this same time period, the faculty has evolved from a nursing only faculty to a multidisciplinary establishment incorporating, Nursing, Public Health, Health Informatics and Management, Human Movement Science, and Health Promotion and Education. This shift to a multidisciplinary environment contributes complexities to the acceptance or otherwise of technology in general and CAL specifically by both students and staff.
In an attempt to be customer focused, the authors have recently researched CAL development in the Faculty of Health Science from the student perspective. Funded by a University Research Grant, our project measured whether information technology, specifically Computer Assisted Learning programs are being used appropriately to meet the learners' needs. This has been determined by the collection and analysis of both quantitative and qualitative data over a one year period. This paper will present the research methodology and findings of the investigation into CAL development and evaluation in the Faculty of Health Science at Central Queensland University.
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