Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Week 3 Guidelines and Issues

Post the two eLearning guidelines you have chosen (you may prefer to write your own) on your weblog with an explanation of your reasons for choosing them. Include a description of how the guidelines might address the issues you have identified.


I am a facilitator at Howick classroom in Community Learning Department of MIT. My main job is helping students with their computing courses. There are no criteria for students enrolling into National Certificate in Computer (NCC) Lever 2 course. Students enrolled learn in their own paces. They can complete their course exercises either inside or outside the classroom. Facilitators are always available in the classroom for helping clarify any learning difficulties.

The paper I am going to evaluate is Unit 2791 – Integrating Data. Generally before students start this unit standard, they finished their courses on Word, Excel and Access. So this unit is about integrating data from Excel and Access into Word document. Learning material of Unit 2791 is totally delivered online.


Content of 2791 is divided into different topics and listed online. At the end of each topic exercises info is presented with detailed instruction on how to complete the exercises.

Issue 1: There are no clear learning objectives provided at the beginning of the course, therefore students lost the chance to assess themselves whether they achieved their learning goals. When students were doing their courses online I observed some of them were too focus on following instructions of practical activities. Most of them believe they achieved the learning outcomes just because they were able to complete the activities by successfully following the step by step instructions.

Issue 2: Students read the topic information first, and then they do their consolidation exercises of each topic. Most of the exercises are displayed as PDF file links. In the PDF files step by step instructions are given so students can follow them finish their exercises. But I found students are following the instructions without any understanding, further thinking or analysis on the topic, they just focus on what they are told to do step by step, but lost the whole picture, e.g. why they have to do so. Quite a lot of our students can complete the practical activities but fail to understand basic concepts. Once there’s no guidance from any given instructions, students really struggled finding their way to complete required tasks.


For above issues, I choose guidelines TD2 and ST4.

TD2 Do students get clearly defined learning objectives that assist them in focusing on their learning activities?

Clear learning goals are very important in online learning. It gives students a guideline assess themselves with their learning. If there are no clear learning objectives students won’t be able to know whether they achieved the planned goals and be able to move further. I believe learning without clear goals will diminish the effectiveness of learning.

Applying this guideline on issue 1, I would like to know what an important role that clear study objectives play in online learning, and how it affects students’ learning outcomes. Evaluate how helpful the designed learning activities helping students achieve learning outcomes.

ST4 Does the course require students to engage in analysis, synthesis and evaluation as part of their course and program requirements?

Regarding issue 2, I will use this guideline to check whether the course material is well organised for students to understand the whole idea of integrating data thoroughly. I am also interested to know how effective the existing course activities enable students analyse on what they have learned, and combine the knowledge they gained so they can apply their skills with fully comprehension.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Week2 Quality and Evaluation

Post answers to the following questions to your blog and send a short email out to the class about your main points.

· Why is evaluation important to you and how do you define it?
· What sort of evaluations mentioned on the presentation are familiar to you already and why?
· Why is quality important in eLearning?

Evaluation is…

Definition of evaluation can be found in the webpage of (What is evaluation? 1999)

Evaluation is the analysis and comparison of actual progress vs. prior plans, oriented toward improving plans for future implementation.

Another definition from webpage (What is evaluation?) is listed below:

Evaluation is about using monitoring and other information you collect to make judgements about your project. It is also about using the information to make changes and improvements.

Widely speaking we evaluate all the time. For example, when having a class in a F2F environment we evaluate the situation and change teaching strategies according to students’ response. We might give more explanation and exercises when students are confused, we might go through the course quickly if students are all “switched on “.

I think generally, evaluation is based on asking questions, collecting data or information that answer the questions, through analysis then make the decision and take action to ensure the whole project / system fulfil planned outcome. It can be varied depends on what questions we are asking and what result we would like to get.

Why evaluation is so important to me:

I like the ADDIE model which shows how important the evaluation is. I personally believe evaluation from the beginning of a project is crucial to ensure the whole project is on the right track.

Evaluation can be applied to improve our service and help improving the quality of training / teaching. We can evaluate the effectiveness and quality of our training by asking questions e.g. How do we find if the course material we delivered can be easily accessed and understood by students? Do our students achieve their learning goals? Can they apply the skills they learned into their further study, etc.

What sorts of evaluations mentioned on the presentation are familiar to me already and why?

There are several methods I know or have the experience using it. For example, we do observations for our Level 2 / Level 3 students quite often as part of their assessments.
Personally as a student, I experienced quite a lot more on formative assessment (assuming part of our assignments for this course will be formative assessed?) and summative assessments. I had been asked to fill in questionnaire at the beginning of courses ( guess to provide more info of our learning background to tutors?). Filled in feedback at the end of a course is quite popular and we did it for each of Applied e-learning courses.

From my experience, checklists are more used when assessing if we have achieved the planned outcomes.

Why is quality important in eLearning?

E-learning is different from fact to face learning. Learning material is mainly be accessed digitally. Unlike f2f situation, e-learning tutors are not able to response to students’ questions immediately all the time, neither to get the feedback of teaching by observing students’ activities or talking to students.

So the quality of e-learning is extremely important in e-learning. Assuming following ADDIE model and each stage of the system development has been well evaluated, the e-learning system should be very well designed to meet students’ learning needs and adapt to diverse learning /teaching styles. A good system will help both students and tutors achieve their learning / teaching goals.

What is evaluation? (n.d.). Retrieved 03 05, 2009, from Charities Evaluation Services: http://www.ces-vol.org.uk/index.cfm?pg=167

What is evaluation? (1999). Retrieved 3 5, 2009, from SIL International: http://www.sil.org/lingualinks/literacy/referencematerials/GlossaryOfLiteracyTerms/WhatIsEvaluation.htm