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Wiki task 2 – What are the criteria by which TELEs can be evaluated

My own interpretation affected by own experiences

When there will be introduced a (new) TELE into a school or organisation, by which characteristics will it be evaluated? When Moodle was introduced in  CVO Heusden-Zolder, different factors where important. The schoolboard needed a TELE without high costs. Different coordinators will have to add new functionalities so the TELE needs to be open source. Teachers, also those with relative low computing skills, will have to do the right settings for their classes, so usability is key. Last but not least, the student is central. After all teaching is neither necessary nor sufficient to produce learning (Lave, 1996).

Our school developed its first TELE itself. This TELE was called “eschool”. Because of the need for new functionalities, they decided to use Dokeos (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dokeos). This TELE was developped by the university of Ghent. When UGent decided to stop all developments, our school switched to Moodle. The decided not to use blackboard or smartschool because of it’s high cost. So that was the first criteria: the cost.

  • Why is the TELE needed? This will affect the criteria.
  • Who will use and evaluate the TELE? When will the evaluation been done?
    Will it be the student, teacher, group of teachers, administrator, coordinator or school board?
    Not every person has the same needs. Usability , Finance, Possibilities,  Adaptibility, Student administration system, … will be important to different groups.
  • Which outcomes are desirable? Learning outcomes, faster administration possibilities, the reach for a larger public?

Some important criteria, linked to the needs of student, teacher, coordinator, administrator and school board:

  • Usability/level of difficulty: everybody
    In which level is it easy to use and well-structured - eg: teachers: easy to set up polls, forums, etc / administrators: easy to track presence of students, find the grades / student: easy to use the forum, poll, etc
  • Adaptability/development: coordinator
    In which level can there made adjustments in the system
  • Financial: school board
    Is it free to use? How high is the cost?
  • Pedagogical: student and teacher
    What are the pedagogical benefits? Does the tele promote  collaboration and social learning?
  • Possibilities: everyone
    Does the TELE has a forum, blog, assessment section, course material, etc on board?
  •  Student administration system: administrator, teacher
    Is it possible to track students or to give them grades?
  • Marketing: school board
    A TELE an be implemented because of it’s marketing value. People might choose a school because they are used to a TELE *.

This list will be most-certainly incomplete. A better framework is needed.

* In our school people choose voluntary to take a course. Everybody is able to subscribe to a course, from a minimal age of 16.

When I wrote a critical paper about web conferencing tools. While I was making the listing above, I discovered these items can be subdivided under 4 criteria (Conole and Oliver, 2006):

  1. Pedagogical: usability, social learning
  2. Organisational: financial (school), marketing, student administration system
  3. Socio-cultural: financial (students)
  4. Technical: adaptability/development, possibilities

So, where to put the usability? Is it a fifth criteria? Is it apart of all four criteria?

 

Criteria applied to 2 familiar TELEs

I’ll apply my criteria to 2 TELEs I use at CVO Heusden-Zolder: Moodle is a LMS and WEBEX is web conferencing software which enables distance learning.

During the study day at CVO, we had to do an interesting exercise. We had to form 2 groups of 2 teachers and had to debate. Ge got randomly our subject and our statement (pro or con). By a strange coincidence, the person responsible for training our teachers to use Moodle had to take the con statement. It was a nice debate which allowed me to sum the benefits, but also hear the disadvantages.

Pedagogical Organisational Socio-cultural Technical
Moodle + + No cost to school, medium marketing level, excellent student administration system + No cost to students + possible to make adjustments or develop new functionalities
- sometimes difficult to keep a good overview - - - Many coordinators needed to administer the system
Webex + enables social learning, very user friendly + High marketing level, weak student administration features + No cost to students + Few coordinators needed to administer the system
- - High cost to school - - impossible to adapt, fully dependant on the internet

 

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