We must adjust to changing times and still
hold to unchanging principles.
How do you evaluate an online course?
If you want to be successful at something, the first thing to ask
is, "How is this going to be evaluated?"
There are many ways to evaluate courses, The following are four
different types of evaluation criteria:
1. Evaluation criteria based on "The Seven Principles of
Good Practice in Undergraduate Education" by Arthur W. Chickering
and Zelda F. Gamson
Most major academic institutions have developed evaluation criteria
for online courses based on "The Seven Principles of Good
Practice in Undergraduate Education" by Arthur W. Chickering
and Zelda F. Gamson
The Academic Senate of the California Community Colleges adopted
this set of guidelines:
Guidelines for Good Practices: Effective Instructor-Student
Contact in Distance Learning
Scott Hildreth, PhD developed a graphical grid exemplifiying
the best practices outlined in the Academic Senate Guidelines.
"Teaching Online with WebCT"
The Academic Senate guidelines provide sound suggestions for
how an instructor can use technology to teach online. It can also
be used as evaluation criteria for judging how well a course or
teacher utilizes the communication tools on the internet. However,
the Academic Senate guidelines do not measure the course outcome--does
the course ahcieve its goals and objectives?
Evaluating if a course achieves its goals and objectives is a
difficult task and to be conclusive would involve evaluating the
students skill or knowledge before and after the course. However,
to some degree we can judge the effectiveness of the course based
on its instructional design.
2. The Paul Allen Foundation Virtual Education Contest developed
criteria for judging online courses
The goal of the contest was to try and select the best course
four principle criteria:
(1) creative use of technology
(2) sound instructional design
(3) integration of active learning
(4) evidence of educational effectiveness
3. In "Making Instruction Work" Robert F. Mager summerizes
how he evaluates courses
"A course is effective to the degree that it accomplishes
what it sets out to do accomplish. It is effecient to the degree
it accomplishes its purpose with the least motion (time, effort,
This tool can be used as an assessment tool or for brainstorming.
Review existing online courses
It is helpful to review existing online courses and critique them
based on some criteria before developing your own. In the academic
community this is called a literature review and in the business
world it is called a market survey.
The reason we survey the field before beginning is:
- to learn from others
- to improve on what others have done, rather than duplicate what
they have done
- to immerse oneself in the world of online education