Evaluation of a multimedia resource for health professionals using the phenomenographic and checklist approaches

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Given the rapid turnover of multimedia resources in all fields, software evaluation is an important issue for both buyers and developers. Evaluation helps educators and learners identify if the content meets their individual needs. To developers, evaluation is key in product improvement. Evaluation may be done at the front-end, in use (formative) and/or at the end (summative stages) and includes assessment of the user interface, multimedia integration, learning experience and satisfaction, and other variables as required in the circumstances. The need for assessment has resulted in the development of a variety of evaluation techniques and it becomes necessary for stakeholders to identify the actual property that each of the methods assesses. This study compared the evaluation of a multimedia resource for health professionals using two different methods - a validated evaluation tool in checklist format and the qualitative method of phenomenography in order to compare the two methods on the basis of the information provided, weaknesses and strengths, and benefits to stakeholders. The results should be helpful to anyone needing a thorough appraisal of a multimedia product. The CD-ROM Interactive Pathology--a reference software developed for massage therapy students and therapists was evaluated. Massage therapists, content experts and technical experts evaluated the product using checklists, while therapists used the phenomenographic approach. The checklist method took a wholistic approach and gave a complete appraisal of the various aspects listed and provided useful information relating to content. Evaluation by phenomenography provided learner-related data: approach taken to the multimedia resource; user interface; educational principles; affective responses; and, problems relating to comprehension, learning and misconceptions. While the checklist may be used in all stages of development, phenomenography would be helpful during formative and summative stages. Both methods would be of benefit to developers. For educators, the checklist approach would help appraise the overall quality of the product while phenomenography would give them empirical evidence of its usefulness to learners and to help identify how the product could be incorporated into teaching. It may also provide information that has wider curricular implications. For learners, checklist is the only feasible method for evaluation. By carefully choosing evaluation methods unpleasant surprises with the acceptance and use of a multimedia product can be avoided by all stakeholders.
Bibliography: p. 206-234.
Premkumar, K. (2003). Evaluation of a multimedia resource for health professionals using the phenomenographic and checklist approaches (Doctoral thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from https://prism.ucalgary.ca. doi:10.11575/PRISM/15517