Examining cost measurements in production and delivery of three case studies using eLearning for Applied Health Sciences: A cross-case synthesis (Preprint)
Meinert E., Alturkistani A., Foley K., Brindley D., Car J.
<sec> <title>BACKGROUND</title> <p>The World Health Organization (WHO) World Health Report (2006) conveys that a significant increase is needed in global healthcare resourcing to meet current and future demand for health professionals. eLearning (defined as asynchronous/synchronous online learning delivered via the internet) presents a possible opportunity to change and optimise training by providing a scalable means for instruction, thus reducing the costs necessary for implementation. Research literature often suggests a benefit of eLearning is its cost-effectiveness compared to face to face instruction, yet there is limited evidence comparing costs to other forms of instruction, or the establishment of standards for budgeting of implementation costs.</p> </sec> <sec> <title>OBJECTIVE</title> <p>In order to determine potential cost favourability of eLearning in contrast to other learning, there must first be understanding of the components and ingredients to build online learning implementations. Without first taking this step, studies lack essential financial accounting rigour for course planning and have an inconsistent basis for comparison. This study’s objectives are to A) establish standard ingredients for the cost of the production of eLearning, B) determine the variance instructional design has on the costs of production of eLearning.</p> </sec> <sec> <title>METHODS</title> <p>This project makes use of a cross-case method among three case studies using mixed-methods, including cost accounting and budget variance analysis. The different implementation-specific aspects of these cases are used to establish common principles in the composition of budgets in production and delivery of applied health professions eLearning.</p> </sec> <sec> <title>RESULTS</title> <p>Two case studies reported significant negative budget variances due to issues surrounding underreporting of personnel costs, inaccurate resource task estimation, lack of contingency planning, challenges in 3rd party resource management and the need to update health-related materials that went out of date during course production. A third study reported a positive budget variance due to cost-efficiency derived from previous implementation, strong working relationship of the course project team and the use of iterative project management methods.</p> </sec> <sec> <title>CONCLUSIONS</title> <p>This research suggests that the costs of delivery eLearning is often underestimated or underreported and identifies factors that could be used to control budgets better. Through consistent management of factors impacting cost in production in courses, further research could be undertaken using standard economic evaluation methods to evaluate the advantages of using eLearning.</p> </sec> <sec> <title>CLINICALTRIAL</title> <p>N/A</p> </sec>