Who Evaluates E-Learning and Online Coursework?

Is it your job to evaluate E-Learning?  How about online learning, e-courses, and virtual schools?

Teachers, I hope you said yes!

Administrators, I hope you said yes!

State departments of education, and local school boards, I hope you said yes!

While so-called e-learning (Some call it online learning) is exciting and certainly necessary for us to accelerate the work of kids and their teachers.   Sadly, though, some entrepreneurial interests are perpetuating poor quality features and courseware to accelerate profits over accelerating improvements for kids and teachers.

I once sat in a due diligence meeting for a company acquiring another e-learning company with Chester Finn.  We noticed a page in an online Science course reference to the study of the stars as Astrology. (The sellers defended this as a type-Astronomy, Astrology, oh yea-we all knew what they meant.  eeegads!)  Another gaffe, online, erroneously credited President Lincoln with eliminating slavery-not clarifying that our Nation did not accomplish this at 100% during his presidency.  The shortcuts and errors are egregious in e-learning, virtual schooling, and e-courses and learning activities.

Michelle R. Davis provided through her work, some good guiding principles with respect to evaluating the quality of e-learning, virtual schools, and other online venues for coursework and learning activities:

1.  Students should take any exams in-person to ensure they are doing their own work and truly absorbing the information.

2.  Assessments should be embedded throughout an online course or venue to ensure that appropriate interventions and supports are provided as early as possible.

3.  Data tracking to monitor how long students are taking to complete assignments, frequency of participation and frequency of student-teacher contact are necessary for success.

4.  The same accountability measures to judge regular teacher-led activities and brick and mortar schools should be used to measure virtual schools, online courses, and any e-learning delivered activities. (Davis asserts that this would include AYP and state testing requirements.)

Good luck!


2 Comments on “Who Evaluates E-Learning and Online Coursework?

  1. Dr. Wise,
    Interesting post. When I taught a college-level distance education course many of these same concerns came up. As an instructor, I wasn’t necessarily a fan because I never had the opportunity to meet my students. I also thought the virtual classroom was not the best forum for the class I taught. As distance education courses become more popular in secondary and post-secondary education, it will be interesting to see more data on the effectiveness of distance education.

    • Thank you for your comment. I should have mentioned in the post that we have a long way to go to declare efficacy of technology-based learning. Entrepreneurs are ahead of the researchers on e-learning and distance learning effects. While I remain enthused about wider, deeper use of technology-based and other e-learning venues, we must document findings to ensure and bolster success. Thanks again. JW

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