Evaluating Online Courses

learning Online Education

Many school administrators, the community, teachers, and students are concerned about the quality of online courses. Why are we concerned about online courses more than we are about face-to-face traditional courses? Should we evaluate online courses differently? If so, how should we evaluate online courses?

Evaluating Online Courses

School stakeholders expect schools to evaluate online courses by means of assessment. Students are tested and assessed according to the results of tests. Tests measure what the students remembered for the test.

Assessment vs Evaluation

What is involved in assessment and what is involved in evaluation? Are the two the same?

What do we assess and why?

School stakeholders are interested in assessing students. This can be done by means of formative or summative assessment? We assess or measure lower and higher order thinking skills. Bloom’s Taxonomy breaks down the levels from the lowest to the highest levels.

Bloom’s Taxonomy

According to Blooms’s Taxonomy, there are 6 levels of cognitive learning:

  1. Knowledge can be assessed by quizzes.
  2. Comprehension can be assessed via problem solving.
  3. Application can also be asses through problem solving.
  4. Analysis can be assessed by discussion forums
  5. Synthesis can also be assessed via discussion
  6. Evaluation

The highest level of cognition is evaluation. The first level can be assessed by quizzes. Comprehension and application can be assessed by problem solving . Discussion forums can be used to assess all 6. The word assess means the same as measure.

In Applying the Science of Learning, Richard E. Mayer claims that when we assess learners, we what to know what the learner learned and how the learner learned the material. There is input and output of  information. The stakeholder of a school can decide what criteria to follow in giving the grade or evaluation.

The University of Washington developed “The Instructional Assessment System (IASystem™)”. The university labels the measuring or assessment tool as “a well-established course evaluation system” (http://www.washington.edu/oea/services/course_eval/about.html)

Traditional and Online Evaluation

Evaluating traditional and online learning is very similar. Both system require that we create guidelines to assess the courses. All the stakeholders should be able to see the final evaluation of both an online and face-to-face traditional course.

We should take the following aspects into consideration when we evaluate an online course:

  • Methods of Learning
  • Social and Peer Engagment
  • Management and Organization
  • Feedback and Support

Evaluating an Online Course

Students and teachers should be the only ones evaluating an online course.  The information in the evaluation form will help improve this and may be other online courses. Here are 2 examples of online evaluations of question used:

  1. http://www.d.umn.edu/vcaa/forms/student_eval_spring_08.html to evaluate an online course. 
  2. http://teachonline.csustan.edu/docs/Sample_Course_Evaluation.pdf

Evaluation of online courses should be conducted by the teachers and students. Teachers should set goals before giving online courses with criteria and rubrics on how to assess the courses during, before, and at the end. There should be ongoing assessment by the teacher and students throughout the course.

Dr. Nellie Deutsch

Dr. Nellie Deutsch is an education technology and curriculum consultant, faculty at Atlantic University in the MA transpersonal and leadership studies, teacher trainer, researcher, and writer. She organizes Moodle MOOCs and online conferences. She earned her doctorate in education and educational leadership with a specialization in curriculum and instruction from the University of Phoenix Her dissertation research (available on ProQuest & Amazon) focused on instructor experiences with integrating technology in blended learning contexts in higher education around the world. Nellie offers free teacher training courses on teaching with technology, action research and Moodle for teacher courses to new, veteran, and future teachers who wish to teach online, face-to-face or in blended learning formats. She also provides online courses to teachers and ICT people on how to be administrators of Moodle websites. She integrates Moodle and WizIQ live virtual classes in all her courses.


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