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.


  1. Hi Michelle
    I was reading your post with interest.....especially your part about being able to adapt to the needs of learners......One of the issues I have found in the literature which links nicely with evaluation is the question of whether androgogical or pedagogical principles of teaching and learning are being adopted. Muirhead (2007) raises this issue and rather splendidly examines the question....He appears to summarise that as e-teachers we are not being responsive to 'adult' principles, so it was good to see you address this in your idea about being responsive to need. My suggestion would be that it is an issue to consider: as you have done as it is all too easy to transpose F2F to e-learning and think it's androgogically sound when it is actually a study in e-pedagogy.....The article is from EBSCO database which you ought to be able to access via the library at MIT....If not, I will ask Bronwyn to have it put in our course readings.....

    Robert John Muirhead (2007) E-learning: Is ihis teaching at students or teaching with students? Nursing Forum 42(4) October-December 178-184


  2. Hi Michelle

    I've read with interest your comments too. I have had some experience in trying to align a learning cycle used for F2F, with web tool ideas (Horton's list), and seeing how it could fit in the OTARA model. The 'template' helped me make the transition from F2F to blended delivery of learning much more manageable than feeling totally overwhelmed about how to and how much time I would have to 'redesign'!

    For me, it's been about how best make progress to develop a pedagocially sound set of learning resources within the often very limited time frames (as is often the case in this 'real world')! It is a continual improvement as time allows.

    We are using some Moodle resources developed by OER where funding allowed (I think) about 600 hours of development time for each paper. They are truly 'exemplar models' based around PBL. For the other papers not developed by OER, staff here at UCOL only have the 'usual' preparation time currently to redevelop similar resources - 2-3 hours per week for the length of the paper (15 weeks). Therefore, naturally, we have a polarity both of time and quality!

    I'm interested in hearing your experiences.

    Kay Lewis

  3. Hi Sam, thanks for your comments. The article by Muirhood sounds interesting - will look it up.

    Thanks, Michelle

  4. Hi Kay
    Thanks for your comments.

    I attended a NZATD meeting last meeting, on Web 2.0 Tools, run by the Jayne Gutry, the professional development advisor at Auckland City Libraries. Was very impressed with the way that she had set up her courses online using a blog - looks very professional and very cheap! Are you able to give me a link to Horton's tools that you referred to?

    Like you said in your post, quite time intensive and finding the time to explore and evaluate what's available, then creating high quaility resources that meets the needs of the learner. There's so much neat stuff out there - you can spend hours playing!

    Your posting prompted me to find out more about the OTARA model Looks like a great design model to work from.


  5. Michelle your post certainly stimulated some very interesting discussion relevant to the whole area of designing learning for adult learners. The idea of evaluating whether you should introduce an online Training Needs Analysis into the Induction package will fit with your proposed direction of conducting a needs analysis. There is sure to be material already available which will save you time - something key you need to consider as mentioned by yourself and Kay on here.

    It will also make sure you are on the same wavelength as the staff you work with as mentioned by Sam.

    Your guidelines will still be ideal and I like the way you have provided an explanation for why they are suitable. Great post! Were you thinking you might have to change your guidelines?

  6. Thanks for the feedback Bronwyn. Was confused for awhile, but back on track now!