The user experience of an online platform when learning cytology
This research addresses the user experience of an online platform when learning cytology. The study was based in Auckland and the investigation undertaken involved three stages. The first stage was with the student community enrolled in an undergraduate level histology/cytology course of Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Science at Auckland University of Technology. The aim was to explore the students’ experiences of the cytology platform www.cytologystuff.com. The second stage was with the cytotechnologist community working at Diagnostic Medlab. The aim was to explore the users’ perceived convenience, its values as a learning tool, and their perception of being a peripheral member of a virtual community of practice that might also be advantageous to students. The last stage was a self-reflection that explores the researcher’s personal experience. The aim was to explore the use of the online platform, providing a reflective account of the researchers’ experience and barriers encountered. The study involved undertaking a qualitative and quantitative piece of research. Mixed methods approach, taken included an open-end and closed-end questionnaire to provide the data. The student survey cohort was collected online through www.surveymonkey.com. The cytotechnologist survey was paper based, as this was identified as being more appropriate by the staff manager. Participants’ responses were then transferred to www.surveymonkey.com, to assist in the data analysis process; the research methods, survey questionnaire and data finding are in chapter four. Actor-Network Theory provides a framework to analyse user experience of an online platform for learning cytology, with accounts of what students, cytotechnologist staff and researchers experience when making use of the online platform www.cytologystuff.com. What this site might provide an opportunity for students to be involved in an online community of practice was investigated. However, the data analysed using the study simple statistical analysis methods showed mixed results. The analysis informed by Actor-Network Theory provides sensibilities brought forward particular limitations in making use of the site. The students’ experience of the site was overwhelmingly positive as a learning tool, but it was perceived as too simplistic for the cytotechnologists for practical applications.