The Journal of Extension - www.joe.org

June 2016 // Volume 54 // Number 3 // Tools of the Trade // 3TOT8

Effectiveness of Webinars as Educational Tools to Address Horse Industry Issues

Abstract
A series of six webinars was developed and presented as part of an eXtension HorseQuest/My Horse University online educational program funded by the USA Equestrian Trust. The webinars addressed topics consistent with the goal of improving equine health and management practices through dissemination to horse owners of relevant research findings on current horse industry issues. The webinars were presented and recorded and then archived to both eXtension.org/horses and myhorseuniversity.com. Data from a voluntary postwebinar survey showed that a viable tool was successfully created and used to disseminate current research-based information to the industry.


Kate E. Pulec
Graduate Assistant
University of Nebraska
Lincoln, Nebraska
kmyrt@huskers.unl.edu

Christine D. Skelly
Extension Horse Specialist
Michigan State University
East Lansing, Michigan
skellych@msu.edu

Colleen M. Brady
Extension Specialist
Purdue University
West Lafayette, Indiana
bradyc@purdue.edu

Elizabeth A. Greene
Extension Equine Specialist
University of Vermont
Burlington, Vermont
Betsy.Greene@uvm.edu

Kathleen P. Anderson
Extension Horse Specialist
University of Nebraska
Lincoln, Nebraska
kanderson1@unl.edu

Introduction

Extension professionals are using the growing variety of online learning resources to explore innovative methods for providing new information to their clientele. A webinar or webcast is an interactive presentation that is typically delivered over the Internet and made available to specific audiences (Rich et al., 2011). Webinars are being used frequently in the field of extension because they allow educators to improve the learning process and participants to achieve more obtainable learning outcomes (Mohoroviĉić, Lasić-Lazić, & Strĉić, 2011).

The objective of the study reported here was to develop and present to the public a series of six webinars focusing on research-based information on current horse industry issues as part of an online educational program. The webinars, funded by the USA Equestrian Trust (USAET), addressed topics consistent with USAET's previously funded research projects, with the goal of improving equine health and management practices through dissemination of relevant research findings to horse owners.

Additionally, information was gathered on the benefits and usefulness of using webinars to educate and assist horse owners in making equine management decisions.

Methods and Materials

Webinars

In 2014, six webinars addressing USAET research projects were created and presented. Researchers who had been awarded USAET funding and other experts in the relevant topic areas were solicited as webinar speakers. The six webinars were Pasture Associated Laminitis Prevention Strategies, Lessons Learned from Recent Equine Herpesvirus-1 Outbreaks, Giving Your Horse the Best Chance During Disasters, Sales Fraud in the Horse Industry, Second Chances for Horses, and Manure Management Strategies.

The webinars were free to the public but required registration through My Horse University (http://www.myhorseuniversity.com/). They were promoted via social media, state and local Extension channels, and the E-Quine eXpert Newsletter list. Demographic information of registrants was collected through the webinar registration process. Webinars were presented through Adobe Connect. Each webinar involved a PowerPoint presentation, instant interactive polling, and a real-time chat box. Participants could ask questions, respond to speakers' questions during the webinar, and participate in a question/answer session at the webinar's conclusion. After the live session, the webinar was archived on and made available to the public via eXtension.org/horses and myhorseuniversity.com.

Webinar Evaluation

Webinar participants were provided a link to an optional online survey at the end of each webinar and received an email reminder within 48 hr. The survey consisted of 14 questions and was designed to obtain feedback from the participants about any increase in knowledge of the topic, the usefulness of the webinar in making future management decisions, the likelihood of making a change after viewing the webinar, and the likelihood of recommending the webinar to others.

Statistical Analysis

Data from all webinars were pooled and analyzed through the use of SSPS to determine the overall frequency of responses and cross tabulation of each question by webinar.

Results and Discussion

The six webinars had a total of 558 preregistrants, 531 of whom were from 46 of the 50 states in the United States and 27 of whom were from 10 other countries—Brazil, Canada, France, Australia, Uruguay, England, Denmark, Scotland, Switzerland, and South Africa (Table 1). Of the 558 individuals who preregistered, 236 (approximately 42%) participated in the live webinars (Table 2).

Table 1.
Numbers of Registrants for USAET Webinars
Month presented (2014) Webcast title Total registrants Registrants in the U.S.a Countries other than the U.S.b Registrants outside the U.S.
March Pasture Associated Laminitis Prevention Strategies 71 60 4 11
April Lessons Learned from Recent Equine Herpesvirus-1 Outbreaks 102 98 4 4
September Giving Your Horse the Best Chance During Disasters 131 129 2 2
October Sales Fraud in the Horse Industry 69 63 4 6
November Second Chances for Horses 54 52 1 2
December Manure Management Strategies 131 129 2 2
Total 558 531 10 total countries 27
aData collected as of August 2015; participants represented 46 of the 50 states in the United States. States that had participants in all six webinars are Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin. bCountries other than the U.S. that had participants in the webinars are Brazil, Canada, France, Australia, Uruguay, England, Denmark, Scotland, Switzerland, and South Africa.
Table 2.
Numbers of Registrants for, Attendees of, and Archived Views of USAET Webinars
Month presented (2014) Webcast title Registrants Attendees Archived viewsa
March Pasture Associated Laminitis Prevention Strategies 71 30 971
April Lessons Learned from Recent Equine Herpesvirus-1 Outbreaks 102 53 1,358
September Giving Your Horse the Best Chance During Disasters 131 52 238
October Sales Fraud in the Horse Industry 69 32 256
November Second Chances for Horses 54 21 193
December Manure Management Strategies 131 48 537
Total 558 236 3,553
aData collected as of August 1, 2015.

Having a high number of "no shows" for a live webinar is not unique to the USAET webinars: Formiga, Stone, Heleba, McQueen, and Coe (2014) reported that 60% (n = 17,620) of registrants attended the 91 live webinars that were the subject of their research. The webinars of Formiga et al. and USAET's webinars were archived after the live broadcast and recorded significant numbers of postwebinar viewings, averaging 1,099 postwebinar viewings per webinar for Formiga et al. and 592 postwebinar viewings per webinar for USAET. The most viewed USAET webinar was Lessons Learned from Recent Equine Herpesvirus-1 Outbreaks, which garnered over 1,300 archived views. Popularity of this webinar may be in response to equine herpesvirus disease outbreaks in spring 2014 and 2015.

A total of 63 registrants (11.29%) responded to the optional survey, and 55 of the 63 (87.3%) stated that they were able to attend the live webinar. The survey evaluated the overall benefits and usefulness of each webinar. For the relevant survey questions, most respondents (98.1%) stated that their knowledge on the applicable topic changed from some extent to a very great extent, over half (67.9%) found the webinar to be very useful in helping them make informed management decisions, and most (88.9%) reported that they planned to make at least one change in their management practices after viewing the webinar. Survey responses indicated respondents' having plans to take particular actions, as indicated by the following comment excerpts: "better protect my rights as a horse buyer/owner," "protect other horses that may attend my events this summer," "improve my composting practices," and "make better decisions about adopting a horse." Satisfaction with the webinars is evident, as 81.5% (44 of 54 respondents) stated that they would be very likely to recommend the webinars to other individuals.

Table 3.
Survey Responses on the Benefits and Usefulness of the Webinars in Increasing Knowledge, Making Management Decisions, and Recommending Webinars to Others as a Source of Education
Item statement No. of responses Percentage
As a result of participating in this webcast, to what extent did your knowledge change on the topic?a
No extent 1 1.9%
Some extent 11 20.4%
Moderate extent 21 38.9%
Great extent 14 25.9%
Very great extent 7 13.0%
No basis to judge 0
Overall, how useful was this webcast in helping you make informed horse management decisions?b
Very useful 36 67.9%
Somewhat useful 17 32.1%
Hardly ever useful 0
Not useful at all 0
I plan to make at least one change in my horse management practices based on this information.a
Yes 48 88.9%
No 6 11.1%
How likely would you be to recommend this webcast to other people?a
Very likely 44 81.5%
Somewhat likely 9 16.7%
Somewhat unlikely 1 1.9%
Not likely 0
a54 respondents. b53 respondents.

Summary

Six webinars were developed, broadcast live, archived for public viewing, and then evaluated through an optional survey. Survey respondents increased their overall knowledge on the topic and plan to use the information when making management decisions. Most plan to make a change in management practices after viewing a webinar and are very likely to recommend the webinars to others. In conclusion, the webinars provided participants with relevant research-based information on current horse industry issues from industry expert speakers. Use of online interactive educational webinars is beneficial in providing participants information to improve horse health and management decisions.

Acknowledgments

This project was also made possible by Extension professionals, such as Extension specialists Bridgett McIntosh, PhD, of Virginia Tech and Gwyn Shelle, PhD, and Karen Waite, PhD, of Michigan State University and content design leader of eXtension Ashley Griffin.

References

Mohoroviĉić, S., Lasić-Lazić, J., & Strĉić, V. (2011). Webinars in higher education. MIPRO, 1–4. Retrieved from http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpls/abs_all.jsp?arnumber=5967253&tag=1

Rich, S. R., Komar, S., Schilling, B., Tomas, S. R., Carleo, J., & Colucci, S. J. (2011). Meeting Extension programming needs with technology: A case study of agritourism webinars. Journal of Extension [online], 49(6) Article 6FEA4. Available at: http://www.joe.org/joe/2011december/a4.php

Formiga, A. K., Stone, A., Heleba, D., McQueen, J., & Coe, M. (2014). Evaluation of the eorganic webinar program. Journal of Extension [online], 52(4) Article 4FEA5. Available at: http://www.joe.org/joe/2014august/a5.php