Exploring the cost of eLearning within the field of health professions education: key findings from a Systematic Scoping Review (Preprint)
Meinert E., Reeves S., Eerens J., Banks C., Maloney S., Rivers G., Ilic D., Walsh K., Majeed A., Car J.
<sec> <title>BACKGROUND</title> <p>Existing research on the costs of delivering courses online courses is limited. The way in which these learning platforms compare in cost to face-to-face learning is also poorly understood. This lack of data has made it difficult to evaluate whether the investments spent by organisations on online learning are effective in comparison to face-to-face instruction.</p> </sec> <sec> <title>OBJECTIVE</title> <p>The key aim of this scoping literature review is to better understand the state of evidence about whether eLearning demonstrates cost advantages over face-to-face instruction and report the results of a research question centred on: What data exists to define cost calculations related to eLearning? Specifically, we investigate the extent to which the literature can provide details for calculation of the costs for eLearning design, development, and delivery.</p> </sec> <sec> <title>METHODS</title> <p>Scoping review using a search strategy of MeSH terms and related keywords centred on eLearning and cost calculation with a population scope of health professionals in all countries. The search was limited to English language studies. No restriction was placed on literature publication date.</p> </sec> <sec> <title>RESULTS</title> <p>In total, 7344 articles were returned from the original search of the literature. Of these, 232 were relevant to associated keywords or abstract references to cost following screening. Full-text review resulted in 168 studies being excluded, with 42 studies providing data and analysis of the impact of cost and value in health professions education. A further 22 studies provided details of costing approaches for the production and delivery of eLearning.</p> </sec> <sec> <title>CONCLUSIONS</title> <p>There is an emerging body of studies capturing costs in eLearning. However, costs in these studies were collected inconsistently and in relation to a wide variety of factors or had an alternate study-related focus. Although there is a perception that eLearning is more cost-effective than face-to-face instruction, there is not yet sufficient evidence to assert this conclusively. A rigorous, repeatable and data capture method is needed, in addition to a means to leverage existing economic evaluation methods that can then test whether eLearning cost-effectiveness and how to implement with cost benefits and advantages over traditional instruction.</p> </sec> <sec> <title>CLINICALTRIAL</title> <p>N/A</p> </sec>