Specific and general applications of a recent piece of research entitled: Online Public health education for low and middle-income countries: factors influencing successful student outcomes

Your Name and Title:

Ms Kate Markham and Dr Keir Philip


School or Organization Name:

 School of Health and Related Research, The University of Sheffield, UK.


Area of the World from Which You Will Present:



Language in Which You Will Present:



Target Audience(s):

 Elearners and educators


Short Session Description (one line):

 An outline of my recent research and its application to online education


Full Session Description (as long as you would like):


A core benefit of delivering education online, is the potential for student and educator collaboration across the globe. Through discussion and interaction between such culturally and socially heterogeneous student groups, the formation of global awareness, collaboration and competency may be seen as inevitable outcomes. However, more accurately these outcomes should be seen as potential, rather than inevitable. Furthermore, by acknowledging that the degree to which such outcomes are achieved relies on a multitude of factors, it becomes apparent that maximising the benefit of this educational context requires such factors to be addressed. Though a vast amount of contributory factors exist key examples include: engagement with the course, other learners and educators; commitment to the course in terms of time and effort; the perceived benefit of the course.

Initially we must identify what factors are important as indicators of successful online learning specifically, so as to appreciate the current novelty of this context compared with more traditional educational contexts. Vital in modern pedagogy, this provides the foundation for developing online educational contexts that actively, and effectively, promote the outcomes desired.

The following research begins the process of untangling the web of causation between participation and successful learning online. It gives the example of one particular online course, but one that is truely global in its participants, who represent over 24 countries worldwide.  


Abstract of my most recent research:

Background: Affordable, online public health education could assist health and development in low and middle-income countries. The Peoples-uni ( ) aims to provide this through a fully accredited, low cost, online Masters in Public Health. Although literature exists relating to online learners in general, we lack research regarding the characteristics of successful learners in this new student group. This study assessed which readily available information on learners could predict success in course modules.

Methods: A descriptive survey method was used to assess correlations between pass rates with students’ personal characteristics (gender, nationality etc) and indicators of course engagement (discussion contributions, online profile etc). We sampled all students starting modules between September 2009 and March 2010 (n=218).

Results: All indicators of engagement correlated strongly with pass rates, particularly online presence (photo/personal information on profile). Paying for modules correlated with higher pass rates than not. Interestingly, waiving fees correlated with lower pass rates than those who had not paid. Personal characteristics were not related to pass rates.

Conclusion: Engagement is important for success, and indicators of which can predict pass rates, the personal characteristics investigated were not related to success. Further research is required to understand the nature of associations this study highlights.


I will then discuss the practical application of my work, and how it relates to online education in general, with food for thought for students and educators alike. 


Websites / URLs Associated with Your Session:

Tags: 2011Policy, Distance, Health, Learning, Open, Outcome, Peoples-uni, Public, and, education, More…indicators

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Replies to This Discussion

Thanks for your submission to present at the 2011 Global Education Conference. Your proposal looks promising, but could benefit from some additional language that ties your work to the conference theme of global collaboration. The conference seeks to present ideas, examples and initiatives related to connecting educators and classrooms around the world with an emphasis on promoting global awareness and instilling global competency in students. This is not a general education conference nor a technology conference. Please review your submission and adjust accordingly, so that participants clearly understand how your work fits into the mission of the conference.
Dear Lucy Gray,
Thank you for your message. I have not had time to make the suggested changes yet, but am very keen to do so, and present at the Conference. Do I still have time to make the suggested alterations?
Many thanks,

You have until November 5th.




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