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Evaluation for e-learning

26 March 2010

We need to review a resource we have found helpful in evaluating e-learning. The difficulty in this task is clearly in making a choice, so I would like to sidestep this problem and take this chance to recommend to my class mates a Cloudworks approach.


How could you choose? - a bowl of clouds, kevindooley, Flickr


Cloudworks is a social networking site developed to:

provide a dynamic environment for finding, sharing and discussing learning and teaching ideas and designs. [Conole and Culver (forthcoming), The design of Cloudworks: Applying social networking practice to foster the exchange of learning and teaching ideas and designs, Computers & Education, vol. 54, no. 3]

Built with an object-centred approach to social learning, Cloudworks started with the aim of helping teachers by sharing examples of new technologies in education and providing the means to network with contributors and teachers who have used them. Anything about learning and teaching – a tweet, a blogpost, a personal story, a research paper, a SlideShare presentation, whatever – is published on Cloudworks as a ‘Cloud’; and unlike a Ning or an Elgg, where the multiple tools and aggregation methods put chief weight on the network itself, it is this object that is the focus of the site and the centre of activity and community.

A Cloudscape on evaluation

The Cloudworks site has multiple resources/discussions/tools on evaluation, and many of them are gathered into the Evaluation Toolbox. The Evaluation Toolbox is a ‘Cloudscape’ – a collection of Clouds. One resource it re-presents is the Learning Technology Dissemination Initiative Evaluation Cookbook: this lists methods of evaluation, how they can be used, processes (the ‘recipe’) to implement them, plus hints, variations and exemplars (‘serving suggestions’). The LTDI Evaluation Cookbook was published in 1998, and the creator of the Cloudscape on evaluation recognised in collecting (‘seeding’) her initial Clouds that technology has made other evaluation methods available, and that the Cloudscape will grow as other creations are produced.

New Clouds are added to each Cloudscape from across the Cloudworks community. While I have been drafting this post, an excellent wiki on formative evaluation for online course design from San Diego State University was made available as a Cloud in the Evaluation Toolbox Cloudscape, and then tweeted about by one of Cloudworks’ founders Grainne Conole:


This recently added Cloud emphasises how formative evaluation can make improvements in the learning design over many iterations. This is a highly relevant concept for my current e-learning project, which is to develop interface help and mini-video training for our installation of the content management system Matrix. This project itself may never! get to a summative evaluation, but each staff member’s feedback and assessment performance is quickly used to develop the interface and the documentation for all users.


In selecting a resource on e-learning evaluation, I will choose one that matches my practical, organisational or philosophical concerns. Using Cloudworks to find resources gives me the critical benefits of collective intelligence.

And this post may be timely, since this is the current membership on Cloudworks from our university 🙂

Not so social - UTS on Cloudworks

3 Comments leave one →
  1. pennyjw permalink*
    26 March 2010 11:41 pm

    Further reading on Cloudworks

    These papers are recent reports on the development process and anthropology of Cloudworks, both available on SlideShare, and of course on Cloudworks

    Conole, G 2009, ‘New digital spaces – pushing the boundaries into the unknown: trajectories of user behaviour in new frontiers, paper for Ascilite Keynote presentation, Auckland, 8 December 2009, available at

    Conole, G & Culver, J 2009, ‘Cloudworks: social networking for learning design’, Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, vol. 25, no. 5, pp. 763-782, available at

    but what I found fascinating was Prof. Conole’s outline of evolution of the site design
    Conole, G 2009, ‘Cloudworks: design decisions’, blogpost,, 10 September, available at

  2. Kate Tracy permalink
    28 March 2010 10:00 am

    Thanks Penny – a great resource! I need to, and will (she says determinedly) find some time to play with it.

  3. Lynne permalink
    1 April 2010 3:52 pm

    Hi Penny
    A great resource to comment on. I was hoping that the group would explore some resources outside the usual articles/websites an you have done that well. You are well on the way to understanding/appreciating the characteristics of effective elearning.

    Marks to follow

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