Researching learning with technology, Part 3

Graham Attwell (ed.) (2006) offered a comprehensive paper on various types of evaluation methods for e-learning. With a focus on European educational institutions, he and his collaborators discussed principles, methods and history of evaluation in the educational field. Methods and models ranged from evaluating policies, learning, and program impact with focuses on management, consumer, pedagogy etc. The paper provides a good shopping list for evaluators and researchers.

One particular model they provided was for the evaluation of  learning and teaching processes in virtual environments. This model was developed and tested as part of an EU project, E-VAL3.  On page 35 of the document, they offered a working table that combined two established aspects of e-learning. One segment draws on the work of Jonassen, Peck, and Wilson (1999) and their principles for learning with technology (ICT). For instance, learning with ICT should include activities that are active, constructive, reflective, intentional, authentic conversational, and interactive. The other segment they use is from the work of Paulsen (1995) and the essentials of effective computer mediated communication, such as organizational, social and intellectual functions.

Here is the combined evaluation table/chart to be used while observing or assessing teaching and learning in a virtual environment:

I believe this evaluation tool has some promise and focuses on key elements to be included in e-learning experiences. However, it doesn’t seem to evaluate more elementary components of learning such as knowledge acquisition, as described by Bloom, or student perception.

As well, there was little explanation on how to use the tool or analyze the results. The paper implied input into the tool would be based on high inferences by the evaluator, but did not offer ways to overcome bias. It seems the model was tested further and refined.

However, looking for further documentation on this evaluation tool, I found the main project has been dispensed and little writing on the method was found after 2006. As well, the main website (http://www.evaluate-europe.net/) no longer functions.  A deeper search might be needed.

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