Monday, August 07, 2006

Criteria for assessing learning resources

Recently I was asked to provide criteria for assessing learning resources on offer from another organisation. In my time I have come across many such things for assessing other people's learning resources - always very complicated and hard to understand and impliment.

Below are 3 general criteria I use. They are a condensation of criteria I have worked under in past projects. Those who know will probably see that behind them are some quite complicated processes - but to start with I think this simplification is enough. It should help people come to terms with what they are looking for, without losing sight of why they are looking for it.

1. Accessibility and usability - Can these resources be easily used?
Have the resources undergone testing with students and facilitators, including those with a range of abilities, and those with a range of computer and connection settings? Are there clear and concise supporting documents such as study plans, facilitation guides, assessment guides?

2. Reusability - how customisable are the information resources?
Is the file structure simple to comprehend? Do the individual resources copy easily, including into other formats? If they are complex and interrelated resources, can they move as a whole into new systems? What are the copyright restrictions, if any?
3. Communications - What communications and feedback methods are possible? Are the inbuilt communication options (if any) accessible and usable? Is it easy to communicate into the information resources, eg. can specific points be hyperlinked to, or otherwise identified in communications? Is there, or can there be a range of communication options used to support the information?

Please, if you think I have missed something in this initial 3 step - add it as a comment below and help me improve it. Any references to similar attempts to simplify learning resource assessment criteria would be much appreciated.

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Artichoke said...

Do you assess the potential complexity of student learning outcome that the resource is designed to develop Leigh?

I've got something that would do this if complexity of student thinking is part of your success criteria for a resource

Christian Spannagel said...

I think the correctness of the content is missing. Learning resources may be (re)usable and may offer communication facilitites. But their usefulness is highly limited if the content contains errors...

Leigh Blackall said...

Hi Artichoke, Christian.

RoseG has also suggested criteria like learning outcomes and informative qualities... I'm not sure about it. Is it then getting too specific to various subject areas not to mention restricting the possible teaching and learning scenarios? I'm speaking more towards Chistian's suggestion here btw...

Let's say we were assessing a wikipedia entry, youtube vid, blog entry etc. One would have to expect that at some point in time, past present or future, that those resources will have inacuracies. But some teachers or learners may be able to turn such a thing into a "learning moment" and by doing so we head towards Art's suggestion for a measure of the breadth and depth of learning... So as long as these resources meet the 3 basic criteria - what a teacher or learner does with them in terms of accuracy, well, I'd rather leave that to them. Perhaps an assessment by me would have to explicitly state that...

Art - I would be very keen for a link toward something like that.

Artichoke said...

We are doing quite a bit of work on this sort of thing using SOLO Taxonomy Biggs and Collis 1982 to create rubrics for assessing student learning outcomes and to plan learning experiences in all sorts of contexts - is a fabulous generic framework for looking at the depth of thinking.

Would be easy to tweak this so that you can look at the potential of the learning resource to challenge student thinking at the prestructural, unistructural, relational or extended abstract levels of thinking. For example - raw thinking only here - need to play with these ideas

Prestructural: Learning resource has no organisation/ would develop unconnected information

unistructural Learning resource develops simple obvious connections - no significance of connections to the whole (define/ identify stuff)

multistructural Learning resource develops a number of connections - no significance of the connections to the whole (describe stuff)

relational Learning resource develops relationships between connections and links to the whole (compare contrast/ classify/ sequence/ cause effect/ part whole type stuff)

extended abstract Learning resource makes connections beyond the whole - learning explored in another context(generalise/ abstraction/ evaluate/ judge/ predict/ create new/ innovate/ original stuff)

There is heaps on the web about using SOLO to create questions, to assess learning outcomes, to determine depth of conversation on online communities etc - will be good to share some of the stuff we are doing if I can get to Dunedin

Leigh Blackall said...

Many thanks Art. Those are some good guiding concepts - perhaps more useful to the content expert - but interesting to look at how far someone like me could take those criteria in a general analysis. Hope you make it to Dunedin to help me ;)