The importance of evaluation to me
To me evaluation is all about performance - how is a course doing, what can be done better. It's about asking opinions from the participants of a course, these can be in the form of questionnaires, surveys etc.
The following definition of evaluation from evaluationwiki.org to me says it in a nutshell...
evaluation involves assessing the strengths and weaknesses of programs, policies, personnel, products, and organisations to improve their effectiveness
Looking at the strengths and weaknesses of a course or programme is the only way to assess quality, and how to make it better...
Evaluations types familiar to me and why...
Observations and Checklists
In the Tourism and Travel field I work in we have to assess many elements of the subjects through observation of computing skills (like booking an e-ticket) or a roleplay serving a customer. In our f2f situations these are recorded for moderation. For some of our students who are working in industry, as a workplace assessor I have visited them to observe these skills in their job. Checklists had to be completed for these observations, both for UCOL and for our National ITO the Aviation, Tourism and Travel Training Organisation (ATTTO).
In this area I have mainly used end of course evaluation handouts to find out what students have thought of a subject in terms of its usefulness, quality, relevance etc.
In the past I have been a member of a tourism consortium consisting of other NZ polytechnics where we evaluated the courses we all delivered, and worked together to have similiar assessments and teaching standards
Feedback in a Discussion Forum
I haven't used this as a tutor, but I have as an online student, doing this Graduate Certificate paper.
The Importance of Quality in eLearning
Quality is so important in education. As the mother of a 10 year old I sometimes struggle to understand some methods of how kids these days are being taught. I am probably a primary teacher's nightmare as I am often asking questions such as - "how effective is this new method of teaching?" "What will he learn from this?"
As a tertiary tutor trying to develop some of my subjects in an online environment, I have to ask those very same questions!
As Joy noted in her blog, in a f2f situation we are constantly evaluating each class, how its going, whether we need to move on, or spend more time on a particular topic, as feedback is readily available. Online however we do not have that immediate opportunity to find out how things are going so the importance of ongoing evaluation to ascertain quality is invaluable.
Students often struggle in an arena where there is reduced support, either from the facilitator or from student services etc. I know as an eLearning student I really struggled with some of the initial papers, and only for the fact that in one paper the tutor worked at UCOL I would probably have dropped out!
In a f2f situation we can often pick if a student is struggling but in an online environment, this is more difficult. If an eLearning course is not deemed good quality, or they feel they are not getting enough out of it, students will just drop off, resulting in poor success rates.