Thursday, March 19, 2009

Week 4 Evaluation models and paradigms

I have read with interest the different inquiry paradigms and evaluation models. It is probably fair to say that I often steer away from anything that may have ‘quantitative’ in the title as I do not see myself as a numbers person or the reliance on measuring, variables and the analysis of relationships among statistical information, although this is changing slightly as a number of my colleagues along with our research director within the school are being put through our paces of a quantitative refresher course.

I can relate more to the constructivist-hermeneutic-interpretivist-qualitative paradigm, as it allows for the emphasis on the human being as a primary evaluation instrument and some of the methods used such as observation draw on this.

However, despite this, I also have to think about the task at hand and as I am not involved with a eLearning course at the moment and the courses I teach are all F2F, I will need to look at a needs assessment as part of my evaluation for this course.

I also need to re-visit the eLearning guidelines and look further at which will be more suited to my project.

I am veering towards the eclectic-mixed methods-pragmatic paradigm which is capable of handling the complexity of contemporary society and technology Casti, 1994; Pascale, Millerman & Goja, 2000; Sedgwick, 1993 as cited in Reeves & Hedberg, 2003). By drawing on multiple perspectives this allows a variety of evaluation methods to be used and also the ‘pragmatic’ aspect reflects the practical orientation that may be used and if it does not work the first time you can only try again. This paradigm allows a flexible approach to the design, delivery and evaluation of interactive learning systems (Reeves & Hedberg, 2003) and also allows researchers to adopt different perspectives and theoretical approaches depending on the practical needs of a project. One of the strengths of this approach is there are no ‘right’ approaches and maintaining an open approach is essential. This paradigm should offer a pragmatic way of conceptualising evaluation design.

Reeves, T. C., & Hedberg, J. C. (2003). Interactive Learning Systems Evaluation. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Week 3 eLearning Guide for Quality

This week’s task is to identify 2 eLearning guidelines relevant to my area of practice (which is in the School of Applied Business). At present I am not involved in teaching any eLearning subjects, however, we are being encouraged to with some of our papers to allow flexibility for students that may want to take some of our courses. I am hoping that by undertaking this course, I will have a better understanding.

I found the eLearning guidelines to be very interesting reading. The guidelines contend that to successfully implement elearning guidelines, they should be done at an institution wide level, not necessarily just at an individual or course level. This got me thinking a little more about resources, time, development for elearning courses etc, then I realised that I was getting off track from the question at hand and realised that I had to make my choices!

I found it quite hard to make my choice of only two and to know whether these will really be the ones that will help and guide me through my elearning project.

The two I have chosen are:
TD1 Is the use of e-learning appropriate to the intended learning outcomes?
TT13 Does the teacher evaluate the eLearning during the course to identify its effectiveness and how to improve it?

I have chosen TD1 as my first guideline, as I am still questioning the use of eLearning and whether it is the answer to learning. Although it may not be the final solution, I can see some benefits towards the use of elearning, however, there is also the issue of time, energy and effort that is required to successfully introduce eLearning that ensures a quality product at the end. I suppose I want assurance that there is learner/teacher engagement throughout the course (same as f2f) and that the needs of the learner are being met.

I have chosen TT13 as my second guideline, as I am interested in how you can evaluate progress and the effectiveness of the course during the teaching. When you are f2f you can often guage the learner/teacher engagement, students may talk informally with you and there are informal evaluation mechanisms that we use within our programme. Again, this is really ensuring that the needs of the user are being met.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The first task as part of the course Evaluation eLearning for best practice, I have been asked to comment on the following questions:
# Why is evaluation important to you and how do you define it?
# What sort of evaluations mentioned on the presentation are familiar to you already and why?
# Why is quality important in eLearning?

In answer to the first question, why evaluation is important to me, my initial thoughts were to consider how evaluation validates my resources and delivery as a lecturer within my course and context. In many ways evaluation gives you the confidence in the materials, resources, teaching and learning strategies that I would use in the classroom and the assessment material. As most of my teaching is face to face, I may need to look at different strategies as I embark into the world of elearning. Evaluation comes from a number of different sources and by way of definition.

Course evaluation by students, pre and post moderation of assessment material (peer review), usability of teaching methods, feedback from students in class, student retention and results, industry feedback.

A number of evaluations were presented within Bronwyn’s slides and on the wiki, although familiar with many, I may not have practiced many. At the end of last year, my HOD observed my teaching within the classroom. I am interested in exploring some of these evaluation methods with regards to eLearning.

As I am new to eLearning, I would have to question “Why is quality important in eLearning?’ – and ask is quality not important in all learning?, should there be a distinction. I see quality as a needs assurance, that it is cost effective, that student retention and completion of a course is good and that the outcomes for students is positive.