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TOOLS TO EVALUATE E-LEARNING PROGRAMS

What SCHOOLS should have in mind when creating E-Learning programs-

In an ACE(American Council on Education) article by Melissa Smith entitled "Seven Principles of Adult Learning for E-Learning", Bryan Polivka of Caliber Learning Network Inc. lays out 7 principles for designing quality online coursework.

1. Provide Multiple Activities- People today operate most effectively when doing more than one thing at a time; multitasking. Give the student a variety of inputs(i.e. reading, discussion, practice exercises, etc.)

2. Brand Online Material- A quality course starts with quality content. Remind the learner where the content is coming from, so that they are constantly reassured that the information originates from a trusted, legitimate content provider.

3. Build a Community- Students are used to in-class interaction between classmates, professors, teaching assistants, specialists, etc. Online they need a similar interaction. The program needs to bring not only the instructor to the student, but also the campus.

4. Give a Sense of Direction- Provide students with concrete goals to strive for. They need to be able to say where they’ve been, where they are, and where they are going with the program.

5. Make Evaluation a Two Way Street- It is equally important for learners to assess instructors as it is for instructors to evaluate learners.

6. Accommodate Everyone- Address all learning styles. Not everyone learns in the same way, so it’s important to provide multiple opportunities for learning content based on individual learning styles. The three major learning styles are doing, seeing, and hearing. The course should be designed for all three styles of learning.

7. Align Goals- Students need to get relevant info they need or want in a timely manner. The instructors need to understand what they are teaching and why the student needs to learn it.

(Source- www.acenet.edu/calec/centerpoint/Issue_3/innovations/innov_2.cfm)

 

What STUDENTS should have in mind when evaluating E-Learning programs-

In a recent study sponsored by NEA(National Education Association) and Blackboard Inc., 24 ways to measure quality in Internet-based distance learning programs were established. WorldStudent has condensed the list into 7 essential ways to measure e-learning programs.

1. Institutional Support- Does the program have a reliable technology plan that includes electronic security measures to ensure both quality standards and the integrity and validity of information?

2. Course Development- Do they have strict guidelines regarding minimum standards used for course development, design and delivery? Are the instructional materials reviewed periodically to ensure they meet program standards? Are the courses designed to require students to engage themselves in analysis, synthesis, and evaluation as a part of their course and program requirements?

3. Teaching/Learning- Is the essential act of student interaction with faculty and other students facilitated through a variety of ways, including voice mail and/or email? Is the feedback to student assignments and questions constructive and provided in a timely manner? Are students instructed in the proper methods of effective research, including assessment of the validity of resources?

4. Course Structure- Are students properly advised about the program before they begin, to determine if they possess the self-motivation and commitment to learn at a distance and if they have access to the minimal technology required by the course design? Are students provided with supplemental course information that outlines course objectives, concepts, ideas, and learning outcomes for each course? Do students have access to sufficient library resources that include a "virtual library" accessible through the world wide web? Do faculty and students agree upon expectations regarding times for student assignment completion and faculty response?

5. Student Support- Do the students receive information about programs, including admission requirements, tuition and fees, books and supplies, technical and proctoring requirements, and student support services? Are students provided with hands-on training and information to aid them in securing material through electronic databases, inter-library loans, government archives, news releases, and other sources? Do the students have access to technical support throughout the duration of the course/program? Are questions that are directed to student services personnel answered accurately and quickly with a structured system in place to address student complaints?

6. Faculty Support- Are faculty members assisted in the transition from classroom teaching to online instruction, and assessed in the process? Do they have access to technical assistance in course development? Are faculty members provided with written resources to deal with issues arising form student use of electronically accessed data?

7. Evaluation and Assessment- Is the program’s educational effectiveness and teaching/learning process assessed through an evaluation process that uses several methods and applies specific standards? Are intended learning outcomes reviewed regularly to ensure clarity, utility, and appropriateness?

(Sources- www.ihep.com/PR17.html, www.ihep.com, www.nea.org, www.blackboard.com)




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