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Evaluating the Quality of the e-Learning Experience in Higher Education. Anne Jelfs and Keir Thorpe, Institute of Educational Technology (IET), The Open University. Introduction. Complexity of student experience Problems facing evaluators Different research methodologies

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evaluating the quality of the e learning experience in higher education
Evaluating the Quality of the e-Learning Experience in Higher Education

Anne Jelfs and Keir Thorpe,

Institute of Educational Technology (IET),

The Open University

introduction
Introduction
  • Complexity of student experience
  • Problems facing evaluators
  • Different research methodologies
  • Audits promote evaluation
  • Holistic view – why? how? when? and what? of evaluation
pressures
Pressures
  • Develop transferable student abilities
  • Pressure within the UK and worldwide
  • Governmental and employer pressure
  • Requirement – learners to participate in a networked information society
  • Emphasis on student-centred learning
evaluators
Evaluators
  • Experienced evaluators needed in production, usability and effectiveness of online delivery
  • The Internet and ‘blended learning’ with ICT elements now widespread
two sides of e learning
Promoted by government initiatives

Cost effectiveness of e-Learning

Permits tailored education

Can develop in ways which impoverish education

Time & production costs of development

Students & tutors lacking skills to use

Two Sides of e-Learning
the impact of quality assurance
The Impact of Quality Assurance
  • Parallel to increased use of ICT is rising interest in quality assurance strategies
  • Lighter QAA touch & emphasis on stakeholders – students, employers, funders, society
  • Emphasis on outcomes rather than processes
  • QAA looking for an institution’s strategy
why evaluate the learner s experience
Why Evaluate the Learner’s Experience?
  • Subject review & institutional audits
  • Act as: educational ‘connoisseurs’ with approaches and tools to use in order to act as experts informing policy
  • Require: awareness and understanding of what is experienced
  • Require: personal judgement
  • Require: ability to articulate subtleties to a wider audience
questions to ask yourself
Is the student experience exceptional?

Are there defects in the system or delivery?

Fit for purpose?

Value for money or adds costs?

Transformative/Value adding?

Students’ perceptions?

Effect on student numbers?

Questions to Ask yourself
metrics for e learning evaluation
Metrics for e-Learning Evaluation
  • Efficiency of the teaching and learning process
  • Readability & usability of materials
  • Communication
  • Social relationships
  • Costs
quality of the e learning experience
Quality of the e-Learning Experience
  • Efficiency of the teaching and learning process
  • Accurate student data
  • Drop out rates
  • Student assessment results
  • Student satisfaction ratings
  • Training of tutors
quality of the e learning experience1
Quality of the e-Learning Experience
  • Efficiency of the teaching and learning process

To best understand the potential for

e-Learning:

  • Start with 1-2 courses
  • Is this course needed by students?
  • Is the assessment electronic?
  • Collection of computer log data
slide12

Materials and Communication

  • 3. Communication
  • Communication with tutors & other students
  • Skills in using technology
  • Access from home/campus/3rd party
  • Group work

2. Readability & usability of materials

  • Peer review of materials
  • Reuse as learning objects
  • Online exercises
  • Study skills
  • e-Library and e-journal access
slide13

Social Relationships and Costs

  • 5. Costs
  • Costs per student of recruitment
  • Training of tutors
  • Costs of electronic access
  • Reuse of learning materials & learning objects

4.Social Relationships

  • Hours working online
  • Student motivation
  • Student support & interaction with other students
robson s 3 approaches to human computer interaction
Robson’s 3 Approaches to Human-Computer Interaction
  • Learning theory is dominant – how students and their interaction with computers fit together
  • How students learn when using computers
  • Using the technology to teach in ways that are novel and unique to the environment
how are we going to evaluate the e learning experience
How are we going to Evaluate the e-Learning Experience?
  • Evaluation goals need to be clearly defined
  • Is this a formative or summative evaluation?
  • How should the data be gathered?
  • Should quantitative or qualitative methods be used?
how are we going to evaluate the e learning experience1
How are we going to Evaluate the e-Learning Experience?

Methods include:

  • Surveys
  • Observations
  • Semi-structured interviews
  • Focus groups
  • Cognitive walk-throughs
  • Qualitative studies can provide examples of usability difficulties
how are we going to evaluate the e learning experience2
How are we going to Evaluate the e-Learning Experience?

Surveying students’ views:

  • detects feelings of overload
  • informs necessary course adjustments

Survey methods:

  • paper based with
  • telephone supplementary interviews
  • increased use of electronic surveys
  • focus groups
when to evaluate the e learning experience
When to Evaluate the e-Learning Experience?
  • Dependent on whether the evaluation is formative or summative?
  • When is the student deemed to have completed the course?
  • Will formative evaluation during the course engage students more?
  • Harvesting evaluation information from student interaction with the course
what does the evaluation provide
What does the Evaluation provide?
  • Audio/video record of the computer screen, the user’s comments and keystrokes

Baseline data to:

  • make adjustments, possibly ‘instant’ feedback
  • for external audit
  • shape e-learning strategy
  • input into associated resources – library and information literacy provision
data protection
Data Protection
  • Students and tutors need to be kept informed about how the data they provide is being used
  • Students and tutors retain the right to remove what they have provided at any time
  • Evaluators have to ensure secure access to the data
  • Evaluators must get consent especially if using the data in a different context
conclusion
Conclusion
  • The Open University is interested in the quality of the student experience
  • To improve that experience needs understanding of student and staff needs
  • Here we have aimed to provide a framework in which to conduct evaluations
  • Current work on modelling courses will provide data on points of concern that arise in blended and e-learning
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