Sunday, March 22, 2009

Week 4: Evaluation Paradigms and Models

I think that the Multiple Methods Evaluation model would work best for me, with the subject that I am evaluating.

My understanding of the Multiple Methods Evaluation model is that is uses different methods of evaluating individual aspects (triangulation) and and evaluates a range of factors within each aspect (bracketing).

The Muliple Methods evaluation model comes under the umbrella of the Eclectic-Mixed Methods-Pragmatic paradigm.

The reason that I chosen this model is because of the flexibility of being able to use different methods evaluation and also the depth (and therefore quality) of the evaluation.

eLearning - is it andragogically sound?

I mentioned on our online chat last week, an article from Robert John Muirhead (2007) "E-learning: Is this Teaching at Students or Teaching with Students" (Sam originally referred me to this article).

The article argues that eLearning is mainly not student-based learning but is more of a pedagogical than an andragogical approach - limiting the learner's experience to that which is planned and set out by the teacher.

Muirhead quotes Knowles and Associates (1984) who says that the four concepts that separate androgogy from pedagogy are:

"(a) adults need to be involved in the planning and evaluation of their instruction;
(b) adult experiences provide the basis for learning activities;
(c) adults are most intersted in learning subjects that have immediate relavance to their job or pesonal life, and
(d) adult learning is problem-centred rather than context-oriented"

Muirhead says that the exception to this, is the discussion board, which lends more towards an androgogical approach.

How can we design our eLearning courses so that they are more pedagogically sound? Evaluation would play an important part in this. It is critical that a Needs Analysis is conducted to ensure that adults are involved in the planning and evaluation of their instruction. This would include the learning styles of the learner, their prior knowledge and whether eLearning is the most appropriate medium for the course - to name a few.

With eLearning design, I think that extra effort has to be made by the teacher to be as flexible as possible in the delivery of the course. Obviously the content is prepared in advance, but whereas in a f2f classroom the teacher is easily able to adapt the session to the needs of the students at a moment's notice, this is not so easy in an online environment. This is where discussion boards and group work are invaluable and where critical thinking and creativity can be fostered.

What are your thoughts?


Knowles, M., and Associates. (1984). Andragogy in action: Applying modern principles of adult education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

Muirhead, RJ. (2007). E-learning: Is this Teaching at Students or Teaching with Students? in Nursing Forum Volume 42, No. 4, October-December 2007.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Week 3: eLearning guidelines for quality

I have spent a lot of time firstly, figuring out what I wanted to evaluate, and then trying to work out which Guidelines would work best. Am still not sure that I have got it right, but here's a start!

Part of my job as the Staff Software Trainer at MIT is conducting one on one IT induction sessions for new staff. This is generally a 1-2 hour session that covers a basic introduction to our systems, including: file management, email, websites such as intranet, portal, etc. and telephone/voicemail, and concludes with a Training Needs Analysis.

Issue 1:
One of the things that I would like to explore is investigating the use of an online Training Needs Analysis, instead of conducting it myself with the staff member during the session. Currently this is part of the one on one training that I carry out within the IT induction session, which involves questioning the learner and asking them to demonstrate skills and then discussing what level of skill is required in their position.

Am undecided if this is the best way to go.

Advantages are flexibility of time (sometimes limited to time for session (either on staff members part or on my part) and can be rushed), more flexible for staff in that any staff member (existing or new staff) could carry out their own TNA at any time and in their own time.

Disadvantages could be staff with low computer literacy may not be able to easily complete (which then gives me a good idea of their skill level!)

My question would be - would the learner benefit from an online Training Needs Analysis? Sounds very simple - but obviously not much point if its not going be an improvement from the current method.

Issue 2:
Another aspect that I would like to look at is a more centralised and easily accessible method of offering follow-up support and resources.

Currently have some resources on the Y: shared drive and also on MITnet (our intranet site) and would like to make these more central and easily accessible.

Am considering putting all resources onto Blackboard (eMIT), with the long term goal of setting up online learning (but for the purposes of this evaluation will stick to the shorter term goals mentioned).

I think that the eLearning Guidelines that would fit with these issues are:

From Guidelines Wiki
Do students gain knowledge relevant to employment and/or current thinking in their field?
In this case, my students are the staff at MIT, and the relevance to employment is the job that they have just started at MIT.

Depending on their role, they have differing needs, eg a cleaner would not need the same level of IT literacy as say, an Administration Manager. It is sometimes difficult to ascertain, when speaking to a new staff member, exactly what training is required, for example, if they will be using Excel and if yes, do they need to know how to create formulas, or do they just need to know how to enter data on an existing worksheet. The job description does not give this detail, and as a new staff member they are sometimes not sure to what level they will be working. So, it is important that the teaching is at the level of the learner and related to their needs depending on their role.

From GuidelinesWiki
Do you have a way to identify student needs and respond to them?
New staff at MIT have a wide range of IT literacy levels from very low to very high. It would be useful to be able to get some idea of their needs prior to the session (although this wouldn't always be possible). This would give me the flexibility to be able to adapt the session more to the needs of the learner, and also to plan future training sessions.

Look forward to your comments/suggestions.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Week 2: Quality and Evaluation

Why is evaluation important to me, and how do I define it?
Evaluation is important because without it, we have no way of knowing whether what we are teaching is being learnt successfully and effectively. And if what we are trying to teach is not being learnt, then we are wasting our time and our students’ time.
To me, evaluation is knowing that:
• I am teaching the right subject matter, ie the content matches the learning outcomes;
• The teaching methodology that I am using is best suited to my learners and to the content that I am teaching
• The course is interesting to the learners – fun, interactive, caters for different learning styles.
• I am using effective teaching resources and activities.
• The assessments that I use work effectively alongside the course content, and match the learning outcomes.
My definition of evaluation is “to be able to identify important aspects of instructional design and their effectiveness”.

What sort of evaluations mentioned on the presentation are familiar to you already and why?
As a learner on this Graduate Certificate of eLearning have had experience with giving and receiving feedback via discussion forums, eg peer evaluation.
Many courses that I have attended as a learner have questionnaires, either online or hard copy to provide evaluations of the course.
Some types of evaluation that I have used when I have been evaluating my courses, have been:
• Training Needs Analysis – analysis of learners’ current skills and what further training they need in order to work more effectively. This enables me to gauge what courses / content I need to create and deliver.
• Observation – for new courses - I have run “test” courses for my peers for the purpose of getting constructive feedback on course content, resources and delivery.
• Questionnaires – written feedback after completion of a course to determine level of learner satisfaction.
• Self-evaluation – after delivering a course I review what went well and why, what didn’t go so well and why; and what can I do better next time

Why is quality important in eLearning?
Because of the isolation of an eLearner, it is imperative that good quality formative assessments or tasks are in place so that the learner and the teacher are confident that they are on the right track
In eLearning, there is no face to face teacher to give immediate feedback, explanation or clarification, so it is imperative that the course material and activities are of a high quality, is easily located and instructions are clear and easily understood. Difficulty in accessing the course material, or unclear instructions could lead to students becoming frustrated, unmotivated and losing interest in the course.

It is also important to build in support for the eLearner – that would include building a sense of community with other learners, and easy access to the teacher and IT support.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Hi everyone

This is my first posting - just a quick one to get things going.

I have worked fulltime at Manukau Iinstitute of Tecbnology for 8 1/2 years and my current position is as the staff software trainer.

I have done three of the GradCert in eLearning courses - the last one a couple of years ago. So I'm back on track now and keen to complete the rest.

In my role, I am looking at creating online software training for staff at MIT so this course will be invaluable, I am sure.

I do enjoy learning, and am also doing my National Certicate in Adult Literacy (Education) via distance learning, as well as studying part- time towards my Bachelor of Applied Communication.

It's great to see so many MIT staff on this course - looking forward to working with you, and and others enrolled - look like we have a good group with experience in many different areas.

I'm off to do the Tongariro Crossing this weekend, so am hoping that the weather is better than the previous one!

Bye for now,