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Evaluation for Improvement

According to Dr. Reeves and Hedberg (2003), anyone who wants to develop or

manage interactive learning systems (ILS) must be skilled at handling various evaluation

activities before making decisions. Evaluation is an important component of the process

of producing an interactive learning system. For example, before producing an online

learning program, a developer may ask content experts, interview teachers, and observe

learners using prototype versions of the program to collect his/her needed evaluation data

(Reeves & Hedberg, 2003). I agree that evaluation is a management tool that helps to

make mid-course corrections and document the successes of a program. The effective

evaluative information will help program producers/implementers to determine if the

project is on-track and also more effectively learn from their reflecting experience.

As a project manager, instructional designer, and implementer of interactive

learning systems, he/she is keenly interested in knowing how to do his/her work better.

Evaluation provides a mechanism for stakeholders to understand what works, what

doesn’t work, and why (Kirshstein, & Quiñones, 1998). Evaluation is sometimes thought

as an intrusive requirement that takes time away from the process of

producing/implementing a program. From my point of view, evaluation is not an

additional work, but a critical part of the process. The team of an interactive learning

system should be actively engaged in collecting the information they need to make

decisions, and in interpreting and using the evaluative data. As a result, the process of

gathering data can become part of the change process. I believe that the validity and

usefulness of evaluation results are enhanced by how skillful an instructional designer or

project manger in conducting evaluative acts such as interviewing, testing and observing


We have learned that effective evaluation should be planned and implemented

within the context and nature of specific program (Kromrey, Hogarty, Hess, Rendina-

Gobioff, Hilbelink & Lang, 2005). Furthermore, we should move evaluation from being a

stand-alone monitoring process to an integrated and valuable part of an interactive

learning system planning and delivery. There are a variety of evaluation models that have

been developed. Most often, I would suggest mixing of multiple evaluation models, i.e.

“Multiple Methods evaluation model”. Using multiple methods is not just adding simple

two or more methods into one solution. We need to choose appropriate approaches for a

specific purpose. For instance, the case of Kromrey et al. (2005) showed that only using

multiple measures can meet the requirements of their university’s online instruction


Currently, online courses gain many attentions. The complexities of the Web-

based learning and teaching derive from integrating technologies (such as multimedia

applications and social networking) and an “its use to support the new modes of teaching

and learning. (Kromrey et al., 2005)” From my point, an online course should be

evaluated on three stages. Firstly, on the planning stage, the evaluator works with project

manager and designers to review course documents including course syllabi,

instructional design plans, and online course content. The second stage is implementing

stage, and the evaluator would deliver surveys and interviews to faculties to collect their

reflections. At the end of the course, evaluation would focus on students’ responses. The

evaluator would deliver surveys including both selected-response and open-ended items

to students and faculties. Finally, the evaluator would collect all participant students’

performance grades or examinations’ results to analyze the online course’s academic

impactions. To analyze all these collected data, the evaluator may use quantitative


As an evaluator, he/she should be comfortable with and believe in using a wide

range of appropriate methods to gather information. Most often, an interactive system is

evaluated by both quantitative and qualitative approaches.


Kirshstein, R., & Quiñones, S. (1998). An educator's guide to evaluating the use of

technology in schools and classrooms. Washington, D.C.: American Institutes.

Available at http://www.ed.gov/pubs/EdTechGuide/index.html

Kromrey, J.D., Hogarty, K.Y., Hess, M.R., Rendina-Gobioff, G., Hilbelink, A., &Lang,

T.R. (2005). A comprehensive system for the evaluation of innovative online

instruction at a research university: foundations, components and effectiveness.

College Teaching and Learning Conference, Lake Buena Vista, Florida, U.S.

Reeves, T.C., & Hedberg, J.G. (2003). Interactive learning systems evaluation.

Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology.