Friday, 4 April 2008

Project Thoughts

Some information about the type of evaluation for my project.

Eclectic-Mixed Methods-Pragmatic

From a variety of methods pull together an appreciation of current practice to inform future practice.
Stake's Responsive Evaluation method

Start with some observations of current practice and then develop queries to explore further.
Formative Evaluation

To provide an insight into a developing project to make the most of strengths and minimse and flaws.
  • Project: The use of Moodle to deliver e-learning in a blended learning environment. Specifically:
  1. ST7 Will the e-learning foster students’ curiosity and creativity?
  2. ST9 Do the technologies employed help students successfully meet the learning outcomes?
  • I'm interested in getting a better understanding of how Moodle, as a container for e-learning, impacts on learning.
  • The expected outcome would be practical suggestions for future blended learning strategies.
  • I would like to gather views from multiple perspectives - student, teacher, Moodle adminstrator.
  • I would like to observe some lessons where blended learning is planned. This should give me an indication of student response to e-learning resources and perhaps provide evidence of curiosity, creativity or achievement of learning outcomes. From these observations I would expect to develop further questions to use in surveys or interviews (i.e. responsive evaluation)
  • I would like to survey/interview students to gather views on the use of Moodle in their lessons. Do they enjoy this type of learning? Is it helpful? Is it efficient? Is it fun?
  • I would like to survey/interview teachers who have used or are using Moodle. What do they really think about blended learning? Is it effective?
  • I would like to interview the Moodle administrator. This person's impressions could be interesting as she communicates with staff about the facilities of Moodle and helps teachers set up resources for their classes.
  • I would like to review any available usage data for Moodle. Although the data is limited (due to technical issues!) it is possible to view student access of resources - dates/times. This information may provide only a superficial reflection but may help support or refute other evidence.

NB Given the time of year, in the lead up to the summer exam period, I may have to rethink some of the techniques listed, as time will be precious for students and staff.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Evaluation Paradigms and Models...and Methods

The evaluation paradigms set out in our reading were quite tricky to follow and I organised myself a mind-map diagram to try to summarise the main points. However the program I used (freeware called FreeMind) wasn't great for turning it into a useful link or image. I'll include it here but you may find it difficult to read! (I've printed it and it's fine on paper).

However, other course participants have written some clear summaries that helped me get my head around the topic - I like Gordon's post and table .

I think the paradigm that best suits my approach to these things is the Eclectic-Mixed Methods-Pragmatic paradigm. I think this is a practical approach, which is suited to secondary school or further education college situations because time for evaluation is limited (and often not attepmted very thoroughly) and conclusions need to be seen as having relevance to the future development of teaching and learning.

When it comes to evaluation models there are two that strike me as appropriate.

  1. Mutiple methods evaluation
  2. Stake's responsive evaluation
I like the idea of responsive evaluation in so much as the evaluator adapts their methods as the evaluation unfolds, using a range of tools much like the multiple methods evaluation technique. I think this is appealing to me because the reflection is led by the students, teachers or administrators and not by my own enthusiasm for e-learning. Responsive evaluation may lead to a more realistic outcome for me - avoiding a bias I have towards computers!!

I found this site helpful for a break down of evaluation techniques: Evaluation: A practical guide to methods.

Finally, I read the information relating to methods of evaluation. In the context of my evaluation project the method of formative evaluation appears most relevant. My project will involve looking at learners who are using resources delivered through Moodle during their face to face lessons. Moodle has been available to teaching staff for two years but there are varying degrees of uptake. By looking at the impact on learning across two curriculum areas, some conclusions may be reached on whether these elearning resources are beneficial or not. This would provide feedback during what could be considered a developmental stage in the use of Moodle. In an ideal world I can see that all four methods would be planned for - from analysis through to implementation.

This article from JISC about Learner Experiences of e-Learning is interesting for me as it has some questions that I may consider in my project.

  • How do learners engage with and experience e-learning?
  • What is their perception of e-learning?
  • What do e-learners do when they are learning with technology?
  • What strategies do e-learners use and what is effective?