7.1 Reasons to evaluate technology-enhanced learning

Rationale for evaluating TEL

Key Concept: Adopt an iterative approach to evaluation, responding to changes in technology and student expectations.

Learning design

Whilst the use of Yorkshare to host teaching resources is well established, the targeted use of learning technologies to support active student learning is still an emerging practice.

Blending class-based and online learning through the effective use of technology is a challenging task, requiring reflection on the learning design, instructional methods and support provision for learners. From an instructional perspective, it may involve a major shift from existing practices such as the simple release of lecture notes online to embrace more advanced learning and teaching designs such as embedding interactive tasks, self-directed and group activities. To get this right will involve iterative planning and reflection on action to ensure that the course design and delivery methods match the intended learning objectives.

Student factors

The student population is constantly changing. Each cohort will have different expectations of how courses should be delivered, based on their prior educational experiences, the pervasiveness of the latest technologies and their ownership of digital devices.

Whilst we do not design technology-enhanced learning to pander to student expectations, there is a need to factor in how students learn informally with technologies when designing their formal learning.

Thinking holistically

Existing evaluation practices may not be sufficient to track these developments. Typically modules are evaluated by an end-of-course questionnaire, which may or may not be adapted to include questions on e-learning components of the module. Introducing the odd question within a standard form will not provide a detailed level of feedback on the effectiveness of the use of learning technology, addressing the degree to which the class-based and online components are aligned; nor will looking at the assessment scores at the end of the teaching and assessment cycle reveal whether the use of technology has supported or enhanced student learning.

We therefore need to consider other methods which build on existing evaluation practices and offer an holistic view of the learning methods employed in the course design.

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