Evaluation of an online learning academy of peer specialists.

Objective: This report describes the instructional design and development process, learner feedback, and factors associated with course completion in the Academy of Peer Services (APS), an online educational platform for partial fulfillment of peer specialist state certification. Method: From January 2014 to August 2017, 4,064 individuals in the APS completed online courses and provided demographic information and course evaluation feedback. This report analyzed the relationship between demographic data (work role, experience with online training, level of education) and posttest performance. Course evaluation data on quality, perceived difficulty, and learner satisfaction were also analyzed. Results: Overall, participants passed posttests 70.6% of the time. The effect size of work role was very small, η2 = .006. Level of education attainment was associated with differences on posttest scores, F(5, 3903) = 20.22, p < 001, but the effect size was, again, very modest, η2 = .025. Previous experience with online learning slightly influenced posttest scores, F(2, 4053) = 3.95, p < .02, η2 = .002. The great majority of students (88.2%) agreed or strongly agreed that the content was relevant to their everyday work. Similarly, 89% agreed or strongly agreed that the content contained practical tools, which they intend to use in their work. Conclusions and Implications for Practice: The feedback collected from more than 4000 learners suggests that the application of instructional design principles and techniques succeeded in translating the practical knowledge of peer-provided services to an easily accessible web-based platform for persons of varying education and life experiences. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)