Evaluation of e-Learning

I was recently asked how I might evaluate the use of e-Learning. To be fair the question took me by surprise, as it wasn’t something I’d given any thought to for a number of years. To me, the answer is self-evident.

I suggested that we couldn’t evaluate e-Learning in any quantitative way and that differentiating it from good teaching and learning was a folly.

I did suggest that if we took ‘it’ all away and then measured the gap that was left in modern teaching practice it might quantitatively answer the question of how much ‘e’ was used, but not how well or how badly it was used, which I think was the questioner’s point.

The problem we have today is that e-Learning tools, techniques and technologies are used all of the time and in every school, college, workplace and university. All teachers now embrace the use of email; many of them use it with learners. All teachers expect access to some form of computer in their staff room, whether that is a personal laptop or shared PC. They might also expect to see a LCD projector in their room. Fairly often, they will use a PowerPoint Slideshow as the backbone of their lesson; this might even be made available to learners via a VLE or less so but increasingly via some sort of Web 2.0 provision. But how do you evaluate all that use and more importantly, how would you separate its use from every other teaching and learning tool or technique used? And would we assess the learners’ use or the teacher’s?

Without going into the use of emerging or mobile technologies how many current classroom activities are 100% e-Learning? And, how many of those e-Learning tools, techniques and technologies employed are well thought out, user friendly, accessible and pedagogically sound? Some may say that this is the reason for undertaking an evaluation, but my reply still stands – how do you separate ‘e’ from the rest?

Let us work towards a universal understanding of how learners learn (and this changes much slower than the technology changes) and then how to choose advantageous tools and techniques which address those learner needs: in and out of the classroom. Then, let us evaluate the whole caboodle – not just ‘e’.

After all, who ever evaluated the use of pens and pencils when slates became outdated?

See this .pdf file.

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Experiential Learning

“Rather than treat pedagogy as the transfer of knowledge from teachers who are experts to students who are receptacles, educators should consider more hands-on and informal types of learning.”

John Seeley Brown [Dec. 2006] reported by Martin LaMonica [Staff Writer, CNET News]. Accessed at: http://news.cnet.com/Futurist-To-fix-education,-think-Web-2.0/2100-1032_3-6140175.html on 21/02/10

I’ve been interested for a very long time now in the exploration of pedagogical uses for modern (‘m’) tools and technologies. I hazard to say techniques at this stage, because it is in fact the techniques which need to be pedagogically planned. I’m also interested in the social implications of ‘m’ and how these might be brought to bear on the way we enable learning to take place.

An earlier blog post [https://eduvel.wordpress.com/2010/02/18/blooms/]  discusses my use of Bloom’s Taxonomy as an introduction to the development of ‘m’ techniques. I use this taxonomy in the preparation of (and as part of) my workshops. Hitherto, Blooms’ has been the bedrock of my exploration and development.

However, there are other theories that lend themselves to being re-visited with one eye on the tools and technologies of 2010 and beyond. Others have begun this and the foremost seems to be:

Maslow:

I’m quite interested in the way we might revisit Maslow, with an eye on the social and economic changes that are happening around us. I think there’s a real need now to recognise how the (especially) lower levels of Maslow’s hierarchy are changing. Young learners now have technological needs that the original paper preceded. As Dan Bevarly (@dbevarly) says: “You can’t engage if you can’t connect”. I am working on this, but as with everything else (and work etc), it’s a slow process.

Some others I have also explored are:

Dewey

http://effective.leadershipdevelopment.edu.au/deweys-3-stage-model/experiential-learning/

  1. Sizing up the situation at hand through objective observation.
  2. Drawing forth knowledge about such situations by recalling similar past experiences (both your own and those of the people around you).
  3. Judging how to proceed, based on this knowledge

http://www.stevehargadon.com/2007/01/john-seely-brown-on-web-20-and-culture.html (Makes a start on Web 2.0 with Dewey at the root.)

Piaget

http://effective.leadershipdevelopment.edu.au/piagets-2-ways-learning-experience/experiential-learning/

even

Confucius

I liked:

“He who learns but does not think is lost. He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger.”
(Lunyu 2.15) from: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/confucius/ [accessed: 19/02/10]

and to this Confucian quote I would add:

“he who teaches but does not learn – is a fool”

Yet none have addressed, as far as my brief desk-search can see, the tools and technologies of 2010. These must surely change the way we accommodate all of the well-grounded theories and although I’m certain that there are scholars out there who are re-visiting them, these are not yet easily found.

Kolb

I will however revisit Kolb as I can, like Bloom’s Taxonomy, put his theories to good use straight away.

  1. Concrete Experience – (a new experience of situation is encountered, or a reinterpretation of existing experience)
  2. Reflective Observation (of the new experience. Of particular importance are any inconsistencies between experience and understanding)
  3. Abstract Conceptualisation (Reflection gives rise to a new idea, or a modification of an existing abstract concept)
  4. Active Experimentation (the learner applies them to the world around them to see what results)

I will post my reflections over time by taking each stage of the above and suggesting ways of employing ‘m’ tools, technologies and techniques to the cycle.

I’d love to hear of any existing examples.