Monday, December 19, 2011

In reflection... evaluation is a necessary process to establish or improve the effectiveness of a course.
As identified by Reeves and Hedberg (2006), preparing a plan helps you understand the size and scope of an evaluation project, and establishes interaction with stakeholders to help with identifying key questions and decisions.
The process has been informative and extremely challenging at times.
Working collaboratively has been interesting, sharing ideas and experiences however, being able to establish a regular 'meeting' time would have been more productive. Difficulties were experienced due to varying work demands. Problems with the LMS affected timelines and accessibility, and therefore continuity of the process.
I was surprised I hadn't received any comments on my blog until a colleague informed me that they would have to subscribe to to be able to read my posts. I thought a link had been applied to Blackboard. Something to bear in mind if students were to set up an external blog.
In regard to our evaluation, the results identified the course had overall been effective.
One particular aspect the students identified as a concern was the slowness of the internet speed.
A positive result as to to our questions being answered as to whether we should continue with online delivery and adapt this approach into other subject areas.

Bates P., & Obexer R.(2005) .Evaluating student centred teaching and learning strategies for Aviation students using a quality framework for online learningenvironments. Retrieved from

Reeves, T. C., & Hedberg, J.G. (20080. Evaluating E-Learning : A user friendly guide. (In press)

Regarding Assessment 4, checking interaction on another blog/project - I have interacted, perhaps somewhat briefly on a couple of blogs, including projects but didn't make note of this.
Finalising the evaluation process...
As mentioned in previous blogs, the report by Bates and Obexer (2005), influenced to a certain extent the methodology used in our evaluation.
The report was based on a variety of theories combined (Gunawardena, 1996, Palloff & Pratt, 1999, Salmon, 2000, and Jonassen, 1998) which centred around the five principles of social presence, interaction, cognitive learning, and learner-centredness, in an online environment.
Bates & Obexer used an eclectic mixed-method appproach (Reeves, 1996) was used combining qualitative and quantitive methods, which was also our approach in order to triangulate our findings.
I thought it a useful approach to complete the two questionnaires, one earlier on in the course and then at the end, to evaluate students perceptions in view of teaching and learning strategies.
Our data collection also included a questionnaire, a student focus group to encourage further feedback and  a peer review to gain a perception of the course, from a fellow tutor.
They also included an observation which was not possible with our evaluation as our evaluation was being conducted as a summative effectiveness evaluation, however, observation of student interaction with the course and materials were observed via our peer review.
The study involved a much greater student body, 49, as opposed to our 16 students. However, of the 49, only 12 students (24%) replied to the end of semester survey, whereas from our 16 students, 8 students (50%) replied.
The results of the analysis by Bates and Obexer are given in regard to the five principles of the framework:

Social presence
A strong social presence was provided, actively encouraging student participation. The students felt part of their learning community and enjoyed the online environment.

A high level of interaction was indicated by the postings on the discussion board. They found found the discussion board effective as a learning tool.

Cognitive strategies
The students stated that the learning activities stimulated their learning, and that the content of the course authentic and well-structured.

Collaborative learning
Students didn't seem to enjoy this type of activity, although 50% did indicate the group assignment useful.
It was noted that the activity was very time consuming.

The purpose of putting the responsibility of learning into their own hands.
The students perceptions were mixed. The negotiation of marks identified 8.3% agreed it was useful for their learning, 16.7% not sure, and 58% disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement.
It was suggested where some students are ready for a student-centred approach, others may need specific coaching.

The conclusion of the findings were not as clearly reported. One needed to read through the report to gain a clearer understanding. However, I found the report easy to read.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

We finally submitted the evaluation results for some feedback - and had a meeting discussing how the results could be collated for our evaluation report. This has probably been the most challenging course to stay focused on not only with the group work but also in regard to the time of year. We decided the report should be added to our pbworks site so that we could collaborate. This has definitely been an interesting exercise in education and online learning.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Identified in an earlier post literature such as Bates and Obexer influenced the methodology and ideas for our plan. The research was based on a framework outlining important components in an online environment (social presence, interaction, cognitive strategies, collaborative learning and learning centeredness). We felt this framework would be useful as a guide towards our own evaluation, although the aviation group was greater in number (49) to our 16.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Looking back at my notes, I acknowledge looking forward to when we will be able conclude and submit our final assessment.
November 15 we were fixing up suggestions made to our draft plan......the problems experienced with our email service being down was frustrating (drawing our submission date out further!)
I was experiencing problems formatting but Sue managed to sort it out.
It was with great relief to hit the send button for submission :)
Work commitments have occupied much of my time of late..... the difficulties experienced maintaining sufficient contact to move ahead with our assessment has been a challenge to stay on track.
Perhaps I shouldn't need it at this level, but an email to remind me what week we were at would have been helpful - a gentle prompt to check the course blog..... 
We had a very successful meeting with regard to re writing the questions - improving appropriateness/effectiveness, and to ensure fit to triangulate findings
Leanne was to organise students to complete survey and Gary to conduct interview.
I received an email from Sue today with the statistics of the online questionnaire completed, and suggested we have a meeting to organise how the results are going to be presented, and writing up our report.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Regular blogging has been a bit of an issue - there are certainly challenges for students who maintain a full-time position while in study.
Day time hours definitely suit me best:)
I recently handed out the students 'time management' diary, briefly discussing the necessity of planning and reflecting on tasks. I will note in reflection the use of their diary's to note down follow up information etc. helping themselves to keep on task.
It has been & is, interesting working collaboratively on our evaluation plan - sharing of ideas and gaining different perspectives. I think we planned to have more regular f2f meetings, which I think would have improved the cohesiveness of our project.... we have experienced a few hiccups with technology issues which has put a bit of pressure on the timing of collecting data. Looking forward to our feedback and analysing results.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Term Break

Evaluation plan submitted, now have some areas to work on. Good to receive feedback. 
Still feeling frustrated with knowing where to set up changes in regard to the evaluation plan, so that others in the group can work effectively together :S
Spoke to Sue to clarify a few ideas - spending too much time on re doing format, and where able to access updated information.................

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The evaluation project is proving to be more of a challenge than I thought :( Technology problems!
I understand the importance of backing up work that has been created but I thought the information created initially whilst working on our wiki could be copied for back-up.... silly me. So my lesson is to create first... (somewhere reliable?), save and then paste into the wiki :S (it's still quicker than writing in free-hand...)
Much frustration has been experienced these last 2 weeks... something that must be considered with instruction/guidance for the students in readiness for online learning.
Making time to blog regularly aside from the technology angst, students are also very demanding this time of year, or is it just that it's a busy semester? 
I've been trying to organise my thoughts in regard to triangulation and the methodology for our evaluation. Making clear decisions on exactly what to evaluate is quite challenging - with regard to the eLearning guidelines, there are many areas one would like to follow-up, however,  with the limited amount of time we have decided to focus from a Learner centred approach, identifying if the use of eLearning is the best way to achieve the intended outcomes and whether or not the learning objectives are clearly defined to assist them with their learning activities. Bates and Obexer (2005) identify moving away from the teacher being the 'centre of instruction' towards the learner taking on a more active role in the process of their own learning. They add that  Beaudoin (1999),  sees the teachers role as 'mentor, facilitator, and guide through the transformative process of learning'. 
The course we are evaluating is designed with such principles, and so choosing the Pragmatic-Mixed Methods Paradigm approach we aim to triangulate our findings using 3 different methods to collect data -  a questionnaire, focus group and expert review - to gain feedback to the actual effectiveness of the course.

Monday, September 19, 2011


We had a meeting last week for our project. Our wiki page was becoming too cluttered and we needed some firm decisions and direction so we could move ahead. It was great to have a f2f meeting as the discussion board was also not really working so well - the organisation of the information coming through was confusing. Some good ideas and questions to add to our wiki were discussed and sue was to set up a 2nd wiki so as not to lose the inital info but for something clearer to follow. Anyway, a further meeting, minus me, lead us to some direction as to what we could be individually working on and I was handed the Methodolgy. Having read various literature, it seems the more I read the more I need to read, to get a better understanding. To come to some clear decisions as to what it is exactly we are evaluating/areas we want to focus upon can seem never ending. During an archived wimba session I was catching up on with Tom Reeves, Sandra commented upon the limitations of the individual to be setting up the right questions for the evaluation. A good point, as we are not necessarily experts at this or even analysing the results as effectively as one with greater experience in this field. I think the answer was that this is probably budget dependent. He also suggested to collaborate with people within the institution - particularly if they have such skills in evaluating. Great listening to his ideas and experiences as i tried to make notes. I thought it quite astonishing when he relayed an experience of a successful online course delivery having been implemented for 20 years, was then dropped when the lecturer retired - too difficult/time consuming to continue with/or adjust to as new lecturers - returned to previous didactic teaching methods! Regarding methodology for evaluation it seems a triangulation approach is a practical approach. The multiple methods evaluation model identifies a set of guidelines - applying an eclectic approach. Using different approaches/measures gives a more effective understanding and accuracy of the points in question (Reeves & Hedberg, 2003). Methods to be used will include: A user review by means of a questionnaire (providing quantitative data - wider audience) A focus group - to clarify results in questionnaire (qualitative data) Expert review using the heuristic evaluation instrument (qualitative data) The Heuristic Evaluation Instrument ...for eLearning Protocols,, presents sample questions that could be asked over a range of 20 areas. This paper is referred to on p158 of Chapter 7 (link via Tom Bowie's individual wiki) Through our discussions the heuristic evaluation would be an effective source of data highlighting what's working or areas that can be improved.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Catching up

As stated in WikiEd:
Evaluation in an educational setting has been defined by several scholars. For example,
"the collection of, analysis and interpretation of information about any aspect of a programme of education or training as part of a recognised process of judging its effectiveness, its efficiency and any other outcomes it may have"(Ellington, Percival and Race, 1988).
the systematic acquisition of feedback on the use, worth and impact of some activity, program or process in relation to its intended outcomes (Naidu, 2005).
"the process of making judgements and decisions about a product and trying to understand how people use the product in order to learn" (Phillips, 2005).

Myself and two colleagues are involved in a project to devise an evaluation plan. We have chosen a course entitled 'The Conditions of the Head and Scalp'. This is a course that has already been trialled (semester one, 2011) and so our project will be a summative evaluation measuring effectiveness. The course has changed from f2f lecture delivery to being completely online. The purpose of the evaluation is to establish the effectiveness of this form of delivery and whether the format can be utilised within the context of other courses.

I have been reading various literature regarding bench marks and best practice.

Stansfield, M. et al (2009), identify a number of key issues from organisational, technological, pedagogical, student/user and financial perspective. The technological issues are an important issue in regard to any online learning in particular ensuring adequate/on-going support for both staff and students. Pedagogical issues including appropriate approaches and stimulating content for the student. Student issues underpinning best practice demonstrates the importance of clear and effective communication, including online guidance, support and feedback. Peer feedback and support was noted to be effective means of supporting and interacting with each other.

The 'Good Practice Checklist for Online Courses' (Otago Polytechnic) will be a good framework to assist the evaluation of our course.

The eLearning guidelines for new zealand are an effective checklist and prompt supporting good practice and will be a good reference for our evaluation project.

Bates and Obexer (2005) conducted an evaluation on the effectiveness of online teaching and learning strategies for aviation students. They based their evaluation on teaching and learning strategies focussing on 5 areas: Social presence, Interaction, Cognitive strategies, Collaborative learning and Learner-centeredness. The evaluation involved a multiple methods approach combining both qualitative and quantative evaluation methods. The results were interesting to read from the different aspects of the Course observation for each of the five areas, the Student perceptions, and the Instructor reflections. Areas of particular note the social presence and environnment created were very positive. The importance of ensuring timely student feedback was noted as an issue that could be improved. The instructor felt that the reasoning behind the process of the group collaborative assignment was needed, stating where some students interact more easily with the student-centred approach, others require more coaching and information. These issues highlight the importance of evaluation not only conducted at the end but earlier on to focus on any issues that can be addressed.

Stansfield M, Connolly T, Cartelli A, Jimoyiannis A, Magalhães H, and Maillet K. “The Identification of Key Issues in the Development of Sustainable e-Learning and Virtual Campus Initiatives” Electronic Journal of e-Learning Volume 7 Issue 2 2009, (pp155 - 164), available online at

eLearning guidelines for new zealand (2008). Retrieved 15 August, 2011 from

WikiEdProfessional eLearning guidebook/evaluatiing the impacts of eLearning/definitions of evaluation. Retrieved 29 August 2011 from

Bates, P and Obexer, R (2005). Evaluating student centred teaching and learning strategies for aviation students using a quality framework for online learning environments. Retrieved 15 August, 2011 from

Monday, August 8, 2011

Adding to my intro :)

I came to NZ from England with the challenge of taking up a teaching position 20 years ago (sounds such a long time) ....I now have an 18yr old son and 15 yr old daughter - life has not been dull.
As Beauty Therapy is such a practical subject interactive/ group activities have worked well over the years for incorporating the underpinning theory for our students.
A couple of years ago I was part of a digital literacy group which gave me a much greater understanding of the use and application of online tools available.
As a department here at MIT we had been using Blackboard and interacting on eMIT, but mainly for assessments.
The confidence I've gained has lead me to develop online videos for the students to access online outside the classroom environment, as well as give me an extra voice/pair of hands. We recently had monitors installed in our practical room which is fantastic - greater opportunities for interaction and support for the students.
The students have generally responded well to the online activities, although have needed encouragement to access the resources on eMIT and external links.
Quizlet has been an effective resource with the students, as well as the formative assessments/activities where they can have multiple attempts to ensure/check their level of understanding.
Vocabulary is always a challenge particularly with anatomy and physiology terminology, and so I have been developing a glossary - which I would like the students to add to.
This semester I have given more structure to the information on eMIT to include class notes - particularly for students who may have been absent. I have been making posting on the announcement page to help keep in touch and post reminders etc.
I introduced the concept of a class Wiki, with the students working collaboratively with new information they had to research and share.
This was fine in class, but they're not as actively involved as I would like. Hopefully with another reminder from today it should look more promising... checking together in an online class session on thursday :)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Evaluation of eLearning for Effective Practice

I teach on the beauty programmes offered at MIT.
Having completed 2 other papers for the Graduate Certificate in Applied eLearning, I have been developing my teaching practice towards a more enhanced blended learning delivery. Implementing the changes has been very time consuming but the feedback has been rewarding. I look forward to learning more about evaluation, as this is an essential part of identifying the effectiveness of a course/programme.