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Evaluation of Online Instruction

ET 755
Summer 2014


Site #1: MIT
Course Title: Technologies for Creative Learning
Course URL: http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/media-arts-and-sciences/mas-714j-
technologies-for-creative-learning-fall-2009/index.htm#
Evaluation by: Shawn Drake, Heather Haskell, Chris Humphreys

Introduction:
The first course that we evaluated was Technologies for Creative Learning, by Massachusetts
Institute of Technologys opencourseware website. This is a graduate level course that explores
the design of educational technologies and creative learning environments using specific case
studies to support the development of new technologies, reflective learning, and strategies
related to the design of new tools and activities.

Summary: Technologies for Creative Learning offered in MITs opencourseware is a
novel approach to addressing concerns in education about the stifling of creativity in the
educational process. The approach taken throughout the assignments integrate many
new concepts regarding collaboration, reflection, and addressing learner-centered
approaches to education and incorporates them into an online setting.

Reflection: The course offers many refreshing ideas as to how to educate educators
and models them for the benefit of the student. Watching a video provided in the
related resources section went a long way towards understanding the basic premise of
the curriculum that was presented by Dr. Mitch Resnick at MIT whereby he explained
the new paradigm in educational thought as focusing on creativity and using new
approaches to problem solving in order to facilitate a more diverse cognitive growth
pattern.

Course Overview and Introduction: The overall design of the course is very
structured in nature and well presented. The site is also easy to navigate by anyone
given that this is an open course. The assignments and projects are easy to follow with
graphics outlining due dates for students to follow.

Strengths:
Title and overview of the course are easy to find.
Course menu is simple to follow.
Course description is on the main page.
Syllabus uses a graphic for schedule of due dates.
Readings are extensively related to projects and assignments.

Weaknesses:
Syllabus is displays limited information
Grading is simplistically broken into thirds for the three areas.
Syllabus does not show how much each assignment is weighted.
Out of 14 required readings 6 are needed to be purchased through amazon.



Learning Objectives: The course on Technologies for Creative Learning did not have any
listed objectives in the syllabus. Instead the Participation section simply gives overall guidance
on the assignments.

Strengths:
The assignments are described in detail in the syllabus.
The graphic lists the assignment as learning topics for each week.
The topics are well thought given what the student is expected to learn from the course
description.

Weaknesses:
No posted learning objectives or outcomes to be completed by the student by the end of
the course.

Assessment and Measurement: The assessments for the course are based on two types.
The weekly assignments to be completed before the next session and the projects which lead
up to a final project.

Strengths:
Assessments are related to the completion of the whole task.
The assessments are broken into thirds (class participation, contribution to class blog,
and the final project).
Waypoints are established for the student to meet the final project due date with
success.

Weaknesses:
Each assignment is not weighed only the overall participation in it.
Student does not see how their efforts relate to the final grade.
Group work is encouraged but not part of the grade.


Instructional Materials: The instructional materials that support most of the lessons are links
to the software to use on the project. Occasionally, there are PDF files giving a basic outline for
what is expected in the assignment.


Strengths:
Many student work samples available to guide what is acceptable performance..
The course has numerous readings both required and optional to support what is being
learned during the weekly assignments.
Downloadable version of the course materials are identical to the online version.


Weaknesses:
Previous knowledge of different web 2.0 tools is mandatory.
Multiple readings were required to be purchased and not included in the course.
Downloadable version of the course material is in a large zipped file.


Learner Interaction and Engagement: The course offered multiple opportunities for
interaction through the use of blogs, activities, and group projects.

Strengths:
Students participate in online discussions.
Responding to guiding questions posted by the instructor.
Responding to others ideas and thoughts on guiding questions.
Working collaboratively in groups if desired.
Opportunities to engage in weekly activities and reflect on the learning.
Students are able to take lead as facilitator for the week.
Encouraged to work in groups each of the weeks activities and projects.

Weaknesses:
No way listed to communicate with the instructor for questions or concerns.
Instructors contact information isnt present in the syllabus.

Course Navigation and Technology: The structure of the course is easy to follow
using the navigation menu that is available on all pages. The technology selected for
use in assignments is very appropriate for the course objectives offered.

Strengths:
General course structure is well laid out and easy to follow broken out by specific
headings to guide the user through the course requirements.
Each specific heading is subsequently well laid out with each individual
assignment explained and examples provided.
Technology used and referenced is appropriate to the task proposed and
requirements of the course.
Weaknesses:
Links directing users to resources were vague or buried at bottom of later pages.

Learner Support: While it must be noted that this is opencourseware, the support that
is offered with respect to what is required in a self-service context is outstanding for the
user, easy to find, and well thought out as to what might be needed in order to make
selections as to use or devices.

Strengths:
Contained in the FAQs section are detailed and well written guides as to the
nature of all materials contained within the site.
Site specifics as to web compliance standards are presented and explained in
the technical specifications.
Technical specifications are well laid out and easy to find.

Weaknesses:
No specific end-user support is provided, but this would not be expected in an
opencourseware site in my opinion.

Accessibility: Again, for a self-service resource the site and materials are well
documented and explained as to what the end-user may need in order to make a
selection or use the materials being provided.

Strengths:
One of the strongest aspects of this site is its commitment to accessibility.
Section 508 and WCAG compliant in site structure and supporting
documentation, i.e. PDF linked documents.

Weaknesses:
Minimal distractions from advertising but again it is opencourseware and is not
overtaxing to the user.
Does not appear to utilize UDL in assignments required.

Course Administration: This course is manageable in time requirements, and requisite
technology skills for the user. There are no discernible course administration materials
for activities past 2009.

Strengths:
The course is broken into sessions based on time so it is not modular, but is still
easy to follow the progression using resources provided.
The assignments do appear to be in order insofar as time requirements are
concerned.

Weaknesses:
No management system available for inspection.
No assessment rubrics or instrumentation was found.
























Evaluation of Online Instruction
EDET 755
Summer 2014

Site #2: MM150 Kaplan University
Course Title: A Survey of Mathematics
Course URL: Cannot share access so videos of the course have been created and
posted on the wikipage (Kaplan University website: http://kucampus.kaplan.edu).
Evaluation by: Shawn Drake, Heather Haskell, Chris Humphreys

Introduction:
The second course that we evaluated was A Survey of Mathematics, by Kaplan
University. This is an entry level undergraduate mathematics course that most students
take to begin their coursework. It entails topics of sets, variable expressions and
equations, geometry and measurement and statistics.

Summary: As we reviewed the course, the strengths outnumbered the weaknesses.
The syllabus contains many of the items from the evaluation rubric and many of those
items occur in multiple places within the course as well. The learning objectives are
clearly communicated, unit objectives are indicated within each unit and a grading rubric
for the learning outcomes is made readily available. There are opportunities for
different types of interaction within each unit and the instructional materials address
different learning styles. The available support in regards to content, technology and
institutional issues is a definite strength.

There were a few weaknesses and one of the major ones is that accessibility for
students is not mentioned anywhere within the course. Also, there are very few
opportunities for student self-reflection from unit to unit. Initially, the requirements of the
course in regards to the synchronous seminar may not be clear due to the math class
being on a cohort structure while almost all other course through Kaplan University are
not.

Reflection: We found this course to be overall well-designed. Students are engaged in
several different ways, information is easy to find and navigate and the learning
outcomes of the course are clear as to what they are and how they will be assessed.
Despite a few weaknesses, the overall course structure, interactivity and amount of
support for the learners was excellent.



Course Overview and Introduction: The course is well designed as far as ease of use
for the student and structure. The requirements and expectations of the course are
clearly communicated and documented in more than one area.

Strengths:
Syllabus contains many items from the evaluation rubric including netiquette,
prerequisite knowledge and policies
The announcements include instructor introduction and guides for navigating the
course
Weekly unit structure is consistent and clear

Weaknesses:
Prerequisite technical skills are not indicated
Synchronous Seminar offerings may be confusing


Learning Objectives: The unit learning objectives are clearly indicated for the course
as well as the course level objectives.

Strengths:
There is a direct link to the course level objectives on the home page as well as
within the syllabus
The grading rubric is included for the course level objectives and it includes
which assessment will be used to measure each objective

Weaknesses:
The rubrics for each course level objective is the same so students may not be
able to differentiate how to achieve mastery from different assessments



Assessment and Measurement: Each unit students are assessed on their
participation in the synchronous seminar, their progress on MyMathLab and their
participation on the discussion board.

Strengths:
Rubrics clearly indicate grading of the assessments of the discussion board and
seminar participation
The three different assessments allow for different types of interaction: student-
student (discussion board), student-teacher (synchronous seminar) and student-
content (graded practice on MyMathLab)

Weaknesses:
There is no self-reflection activity for students
There are additional assessments in units 1, 2 and 9 which make the flow a little
less consistent; the additional assessment in unit 9 is mentioned in unit 1 and not
again until unit 9


Instructional Materials: The instructional materials include the digital textbook,
synchronous seminar, the Live Binder as well as content learner support materials.

Strengths:
Synchronous instruction available four times each unit
The Live Binder is a repository of videos, examples and self-check activities for
the learning objectives within each unit
Each unit indicates a guide to follow for students instruction

Weaknesses:
The digital book is not interactive and does not incorporate different learning
styles in its presentation


Learner Interaction and Engagement: As mentioned before, there are opportunities
for student-student, student-teacher and student-content interaction in each unit.

Strengths:
The discussion board topic clearly indicates what students need to do to be
engaged
There are different learning styles represented by the types of interaction


Weaknesses:
Instructor response time is not indicated
Other than the discussion board, there are not many other student-student
interactions available such as chat or web conferencing


Course Navigation and Technology: Students are engaged through multiple forms of
technology.

Strengths:
The MyMathLab technology allows the student to control his or her own learning
by allowance for revision and additional practice based on individual results
The digital media in the Live Binder is student friendly in access and ease of use

Weaknesses:
The MyMathLab technology requires students to be able to input answers using
equation editors
The synchronous seminar typically has time lag issues



Learner Support: Learner support is communicated throughout the course.

Strengths:
Links to student support services are on the course home page
Students may gain student support synchronously or asynchronously
A direct link to email the instructor is located on each problem within MyMathLab
Information about learner support is included in the Unit 1 synchronous seminar
The instructor makes virtual office hours available
The instructor is required to identify low-achieving students and communicate
support services several times throughout the course (1-2-3-5-8 Plan)

Weaknesses:
Virtual office hours are via chat and communicating mathematics through chat is
difficult
Synchronous support is limited


Accessibility: Accessibility is not discussed directly within the course but is within the
Kaplan Policies on the Kaplan University website.

Strengths:
Course design supports readability and minimized distractions

Weaknesses:
Accessibility is not discussed at any point directly in the course


Course Administration: The unit structure is mostly consistent and clearly delineated.

Strengths:
The amount of time required to complete the assessments in each unit is
reasonable
The gradebook is set up correctly and allows for instructor feedback with each
grade


Weaknesses:
The grading requirements can be daunting for one instructor if teaching multiple
courses
Even though most units have the same requirements, a random few do not