Professionals' Perceptions of the Effectiveness of Online versus Face-to-face Continuing Professional Education Courses
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With the increasing use of the computer and the Internet in the training sector, there are constant debates about the effectiveness of e-learning versus traditional face-to-face (FTF) education since the early 1990s. However, limited empirical studies have been conducted for this purpose in the field of Continuing Professional Education (CPE), on which the flexibility in time and place of e-learning have made and will potentially make a greater impact. Even fewer such studies were situated in a non-academic context for professions other than nursing or healthcare. Moreover, the learners‟ voice is often absent in the debates. This exploratory study was designed to a) obtain professionals‟ perceptions concerning the effectiveness of online versus FTF CPE courses from two pedagogical aspects of adult learning: professional knowledge and practice development and technology context link, and b) assess if professionals‟ perceptions varied as a function of their sociocultural and professional contexts. Self-reported perception data were collected through an online survey. Professionals (n=399) from Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) participated in the study. The professional units where the participants worked included Fire Service, Utilities and Public Work, Homeland Security, Safety and Health, Public Safety and Security, Technology, and Search and Rescue. Exploratory factor analysis (Principle Component Analysis), descriptive statistics, t-tests, multivariate analysis and ANOVAs were run for the purpose of data analysis. It was found that the professionals who participated in the study (a) perceived that online CPE courses were less effective in enhancing their professional knowledge and practice development when compared to traditional FTF CPE courses; (b) perceived that online CPE courses were more effective in linking what they had learned to technology contexts that they were in; (c) perceived that online CPE courses were less effective than FTF courses in general; (d) who were female perceived online CPE courses‟ ability in improving their professional knowledge and practice less negatively than male participants; and (e) who were firefighters favored the online CPE courses compared to professionals from the other units in TEEX, while the professionals from Safety and Health were most negative about the effectiveness of online CPE courses. The responses to the two open-ended questions provided information on the measures recommended by surveyed professionals to improve the effectiveness of online and FTF CPE courses.
continuing professional education
human resource development
Ke, Jie (2010). Professionals' Perceptions of the Effectiveness of Online versus Face-to-face Continuing Professional Education Courses. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from