505 – Entry #6

Over the past two weeks we have been engaged in another collaborative assignment which has proven somewhat more difficult than the last. This assignment includes the development of another evaluation based on a senerio that involves making a recommendation to a superintendent about the development of local delivery of online high school credit courses as mandated by the state. The evaluation is to determine potential problems associated with the development of local delivery of these online courses and make recommendations to the superintendent. In finding a direction for this evaluation our group has had some difficulty finding a focus. We have spent considerable time trying to establish the parameters of the evaluation, specifically whether or not we should include a comparison of the potential benefits and drawbacks of online courses at all and whether or not to include a comparison of positive and negative aspects of local versus distributed delivery of the program.

One question we developed: What are the academically established benefits and drawbacks for students enrolled in online courses?

If the state has mandated the requirement should we address whether or not online courses are educationally valuable? My take on this is that if a committee is tasked to find problems with the development of local online courses, one of the issues for teachers (those that will be required to deliver this instruction) will be how is this method better/more efficient for students? Teachers will need convincing that this is a good thing, and we need to be able to tell them why.

Another area of contention is the projected outcome for staff when a mandated online component is required. It is my contention that even though the number of students will remain the same and theoretically there shouldn’t be a reduction in teacher jobs, an online component will require a restructuring of teacher assignments. Some teachers will be unable, or unwilling to adapt. This is a major problem area for me as a member of the evaluation committee.

Our group has arranged to meet tonight on an established Google doc to try and clarify and focus our evaluation…we will see!

In terms of my final evaluation, I have completed my EPD and timeline. After some advise from Dr Perkins I have scaled back the number of over-riding questions in an attempt to reduce the scope of the evaluation. I have interviewed the coordinator of the Challenge program at our school and have developed the surveys for the students, teachers and parents. I will be administering the surveys this week as well as organizing interviews and observations.

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505 – Entry #5

Over the last two weeks we have been working in a couple different areas in the course. A  major part of the time was spent on the development of an evaluation quiz in the form of a Google presentation. This was a great way for students to internalize some of the concepts and vocabulary in the world of evaluation, requiring students to find or create images that metaphorically represented the content of each slide. We have also been working on a mock proposal for an evaluation contract individually, and then collaboratively in groups of three. The development of this proposal requires students to consider all elements of a proposal from the introduction to the methods of evaluation to the inclusion of a time line and budget. Through this process learners apply some of the knowledge acquired over the first few weeks of the course in a mock realistic setting. The process of collaborating with peers on a final draft of the proposal has also been valuable as we take the best concepts of all three and find ways to merge them into one. We chose to set up a wiki to house all three proposals and to provide an online space for feedback and comments before drafting a final proposal on a new page on this wiki.

Finally, a major portion of these past two weeks has been the reading assignments on the topic of Problem Analysis. Identifying and analyzing problems is clearly a key element of the job of an evaluator. It is imperative that the evaluator gathers as much information as possible regarding the problem and also be aware of potential problems that may arise during the delivery of a program including the evaluation. It seems to me that a good evaluator needs to be a part time psychologist or at least have the ability to understand the motives and actions of people.

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