Information and communication technologies (ICTs) present interesting challenges for educators and ICT designers, not the least of which is the evaluation of learning. Syverson and Slatin (1995) argue that software and hardware have evolved into a bewildering range of programs and peripherals while networks innovations add still another layer of complexity. As a result, teachers must not only continuously learn how to use these rapidly changing technologies, but they must also rethink their teaching practices, design new activities for teaching and learning, and try to evaluate the learning of students as they engage those activities.
Evaluating Ict-Based Material
The evaluation of ICT-based materials requires the development of criteria for judging them, entities that are not readily available (Currier & Campbell, 2002). Haughey and Muirhead (n.d.) claim that attempts to evaluate such materials are “fraught with complexities not found in assessing other non-digital educational content” (p. 13) because such materials differ from more traditional learning materials in significant ways: They use a variety of media such as text, graphics, sound, video, and music; the content has to be disaggregated to a optimal size and both the content and structure have to be flexible enough to maximise reuse in a variety of contexts (pp. 13-15). Furthermore, the ICT infrastructure has to have sufficient capacity to run the materials.
It is not surprising then that most current evaluation processes (e.g., Carr, 2000; Griffin, 2003; The Le@rning Federation, 2002) concentrate on being sensitive to the overall goals that designers and developers have for such digital assets as well as the constraints upon designs imposed by the subject content and the infrastructure capacities. However, this “design and development” phase is only the beginning. Like most product development, there is a cycle which includes:
The design and development phase of the LO
The intended audiences’ reaction and uptake of the LO
The actual impact and outcomes facilitated by the LO
When these three phases of the product development cycle are considered, any framework that proposes to evaluate LOs will need to incorporate criteria for judging them at each phase. These evaluation foci are referred to here as:
Key Terms in this Chapter
Communities of Practice: Introduced the first time by J. Lave and E. Wenger in their book on legitimate peripheral participation to explain the dynamics of communities’ evolution when new people or less skilled people accessed to them. More recently they have been associated with knowledge management and organizational development.
Information Literacy: Has not been defined in a unique way. The more accredited definition states that information literacy is a set of competencies that an informed citizen of an information society ought to possess to participate intelligently and actively in that society
Social Constructivism: Assigns a leading role to individuals’ activity in the learning process, unlike previous educational theories mostly based on the passive and receptive role of the learner. It also recognizes the great importance of the symbol systems, such as language, logic, and mathematical systems, which are inherited by the learner as a member of a particular culture.
Multimedia Literacy: Extends the definition of literacy, i.e., read and writing at a level adequate for written matter, to the numerous media today in use.
Cognitivism: Looks at human beings like a black box where the input of information produces some output. It has a positivist and reductionist approach to the analysis of knowledge phenomena and is persuaded that psychological events can be fully explained by experiments, measurements and the application of the scientific method.
Social Network Services: Focus on the building of online social networks (i.e., communities of people sharing interests and activities) or let people explore the interests and activities of others. They are mostly based on web technologies due to the wide communication channels they make available: chat, messaging, e-mail, videoconferencing, voice chat, file sharing, blogging, and so forth.
Intelligent Tutoring System (ITS): Any computer system providing direct customized instruction or feedback to students while using artificial intelligence strategies. It is made of three modules: student, tutor and expert. The first implements students features like knowledge and behavior (including misconceptions and mental schemes). The second adapts teaching strategies to the various contexts and to the students (i.e., uses the feedback from evaluation surveys to plan recovery actions for the students). The third contains a description of the knowledge or behaviors of the expert.