So I watched Bronwyn's slide show about why evaluation is so important. The key idea I am picking up on is that formative evaluation is key to increasing the value to students in:
- their ability to access the information
- their ability to interact with the information
- their ability to interact with other for the benefit of learning
It can also provide value to the course provider to know whether or not the course has any value at all. It all has cost to a provider; time, resources diverted, real dollar investment and the opportunity cost (the investment could have gone into another area for a better return).
The purpose of the evaluation is key. The WHY? question being answered at the outset can save previous time and money, making the tools for evaluation more precise and productive.
"...students will only keep coming to an institution if they know they will receive a high quality learning experience" http://www.wikieducator.org/WikiEdProfessional_eLearning_Guidebook/Evaluating_the_impacts_of_eLearning/The_importance_of_evaluation
A great example is the podcasting of lectures (http://connect.educause.edu/Library/EDUCAUSE+Quarterly/PodcastingLectures/39987). These course producers could have:
- spent significant time, money, resources and intellectual property investing in videos and slideshows of course content,
- spend much time talking with students about how this was a trial and not much was expected to be of benefit, ...
- making it mobile ready or burning to CD or DVD and
- offered multiple ways to download as a mutlivariant test, then...
- making the fatal mistake thinking that new, recorded lecture content could replace scheduled lectures... only to find:
- 53% downloaded audio files (podcasts) as their preference - not video, not hard copy media
- 66% downloaded files to listen to as REVIEW of lectures attended - reinforce learning
- 63% listen at home - being clever with mobile device-appropriate recordings was not neccessary as home use meant likely a stereo or computer was used
- 69% liked the system being used
- A massive 73% thought it had a POSITIVE effect on their grades