Friday, November 13, 2009

AEA - Evaluation of (Distance) Learning

The Evaluation of Distributed Learning and Computer-Enabled Environments to Support Instruction

I'm highlighting this session from the American Evaluation Association conference since it's not only of high interest to me but many other information professionals who are offering instructional resources and training via web-based and other distance learning modalities.

The session (my notes available in title link) refers to distributed learning (what's that?) and this is honestly the first time I've come across that term although it's been around for a while. My guess is it may be in more frequent use within the evaluation and education fields instead of the terms 'distance' or 'hybrid' that I'm used to in order to describe education settings exclusive of face-to-face instruction or including some along with distance modalities. It's good to get out of my library & medical terminology areas once in a while to take a look at other fields', but for the purpose of my own I'm using mine in my blog so I sound like me.

The three paper presentations were about

  • The role of computer-assisted instruction in the field of statistics (a strongly positive indicator was found for face to face instruction along with a strongly negative one in distance learning, but observe the caveat in my notes)
  • The role of collaborative communication in a hybrid engineering course (Communication? Engineering? Surprise, these two things aren't mutually exclusive after all and those who exhibit that are more engaged with exploring education tools)
  • The role of discussion board quality in online professional development (Dive in and D'OH with Homer Simpson about the structure and importance of the instructor's own posts. I didn't make D'OH up, the presenters said it!)

We had quite a discussion afterward until we were kicked out of the room due to time. I hope this information is beneficial to others working in distance education and the challenges of effective discussion boards in their classes, and I'm looking forward to seeing more research along these lines.