Friday, March 21, 2008

Summary Week Three: eLearning Guidelines

Some great posts in Week three about two issues relating to eLearning and some eLearning Guidelines which relate to these. It looks like everyone has managed to find a diverse selection of guidelines and had no qualms about getting carried away. It is hard to choose just two or three. The following paragraphs outline some of the guidelines and issues you have all mentioned.

Yvonne has mentioned issues around blended learning and managed to find several guidelines which relate to this area in her post. She has also managed to find an educational situation perfect for evaluating. I wont give the game away entirely here, and you can read all about it on her blog. The eLearning guidelines Yvonne eventually settled on are interesting ones which can be used to really tease out what is important for making learning creative and effective where technology is involved. Here is one example - "ST7 Will the e-learning foster students’ curiosity and creativity?".

For Gordon in his post, there are issues around whether industry "are open to blended delivery options" for delivery of unit standards, the development of online communities, and also in relation to a suitable Learning Management system and staff training. For example, "TO1 Are staff development programmes for e-learning developed in consultation with teaching staff, in order to identify and meet staff needs?" An interesting discussion has started in the comments area.

Online discussion and timely feedback and retention rates are the areas selected by Hilary in her post and discussion about the associated issues and the relevant guidelines. For example, "TD10 Should students present work using online discussion tools?" The big issue here, which many of you will be able to relate to, is one about plagiarism and people taking stuff straight from the Internet.

And you may also be able to relate to this issue raised by Hilary, "
..any structured course that contains several modules and/or is self paced, the highest drop-out will occur within the first few weeks," and the guideline associated with it. See for yourself and add to the discussion.

Lesley has chosen two guidelines which are very complimentary to each other, and could have very important implications for addressing the issues she has identified in her post. These relate to negotiated learning goals and completion of training modules, and getting honest and constructive feedback from trainees. Is it about motivation or about the quality of the materials? Again some great comments which are extending the discussion Lesley has commenced.

Helga has chosen several guidelines and in the first post about this topic she has discussed three main guidelines to be included in an evaluation as well as several subsidiary guidelines. For example, "SO7 Is it clear at the start of the course what support teaching staff will provide students?"

This is particularly important for an organisation which is offering online learning for the first time. The discussion of issues illustrates how it is probably best to pre-empt issues rather than always trying to put "bandaids on the gaping wounds" - have a look at Helga's post and see what you think.

In the part 2 post Helga mentions the issues around how the guidelines could be applied: "the guidelines can be applied at two levels. One is the whole computer training / induction framework, the other is the individual courses that are part of this framework." Helga is as yet undecided as to which approach will be taken, and has done a lot of preliminary thinking about the approach which will be most appropriate at this stage.

Barbara has three guidelines which compliment each other very well. TD1 - learner-centred and achievement of learning outcomes and TT6 - good practice and self assessment. TT13 also fits well as it is about meeting students' needs. I will be interested to read some more about the issues associated with these guidelines - perhaps some of you could chip in with your own experiences in this area.

Important - Describe the issues then select the guidelines
Some people have spent a lot of time outlining why the guidelines they have selected are important, however, they have not always described the issues which led them to select the guidelines or mentioned how the guidelines might help address the issues. It is important to look at the issues first, then choose the guidelines. The description about the issues will form the background in your evaluation plan so it is an important step in this process.

Article about an evaluation study
Also some of you have commented on the article of an evaluation study of podcasting methods introduced to dentistry students studying microbiology. It was conducted at the University of Michigan (U-M) School of Dentistry by Brittain, Glowacki, Van Ittersum and Johnson, 2006. This is a useful example to read as it has some description about the methodology used in the study.

Some advice
When honing down the number of guidelines (I recommend you end up with two or three) which will be used in your evaluation project, you all need to make a decision about the most important issues for your organisation at the present. Your evaluation project could help address these issues, so you need to choose the most appropriate guidelines against which you can evaluate and describe how they might address the issues. If you try and address too many issues and select too many guidelines, your project will become unmanageable, and time is limited as you are all well aware.

I now feel sort of caught up and hope most of you will get some time over Easter to do the same. Watch out for the Easter bunny.

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