Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Week 2 Quality and Evaluation

First of all thanks to everyone who has sent me lovely messages either on the blog, or via Facebook. The operation has had to be rescheduled to this Thursday 19th March as I had a slight temperature so they wouldn't go ahead. For the first time in a week I feel well enough to turn on the laptop so I thought I'd try to catch up at least on a couple of week's work!

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.

Focus Groups
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.


Daniel Alejandro Romano said...

Hi Elaine I really like your Blog and the topics covered in it, specially eLearning related.

I would like you to be part of a project that we are about to launch and that's why I would really like to get in contact with you.

In my signature you will get my email address. I think that for real we could be part of a big new Learning and Teaching experience on the Web.

Daniel Romano.
PS: Please do not publish this comment, by no means I want to spam u but couldn't find another way to reach you.

Best Regards,

Joy said...

Hi Elaine,

Nice to read your post on this blog :-)

I think the questions you asked: "how effective is this new method of teaching?" "What will he learn from this?" are really the purpose of our evaluation. Hope ur questions helped ur son's teachers think more on delivering the courses. hehe....

I understand the feeling of how fraustrated when not getting enough support while haveing distant studies. I had the similar feeling as you had before. For one of my elearning courses, from the beginning to the end of the course I was thinking dropping off all the time. I am happy I didnt, but that was a hard time for me while there's not enought and quick support.

All the best wishes for ur coming weeks and hope you recover well and soon ^_^

Bronwyn hegarty said...

this is a good definition elaine from a variety of perspectives. Sometimes people think evaluation is only about measuring to eliminate the negatives. It is amazing how powerful an evaluation with positive recommendations can be.

evaluation types you have mentioned, just so the jargon is consistent, are sometimes called sampling tools,or sampling methods and they are used to gather data.

Evaluation types in this course are defined on the basis of their function, e.g. review, needs analysis, usability, formative, summative, effectiveness, maintenance or impact evaluation. There is more about these types of evaluation in weeks 5 & 6 in the course schedule.

It is good to see you have had a wide variety of experience collecting evaluation data. It is interesting to read about your perspective on quality for the teaching your child is experiencing. Children who have poor experiences in the primary and intermediate years can often continue to do poorly in subjects where teachers were "hopeless". I know my son never got to grips with maths after having a poor teacher in his last year at primary school.

I agree Elaine poor quality learning experiences have a huge impact on retention in online courses. Of course things like time pressures and a lack of confidence to deal with the extra hassles also impact. Do you think some people battle on regardless though?