The underpinnings of e-learning evaluation and research


Presented by: Assoc Prof. Rob Phillips from the Teaching and Learning Centre at Murdoch University

Start Date

21st Jun 2012 12:30pm

End Date

21st Jun 2012 1:30pm


SBY.SocSci210, NHM.A023, CCC.A119

RSVP / Contact Information

Jo-Anne Kelder E:

 The underpinnings of e-learning evaluation and research

This seminar presents a fundamental analysis of the nature of research into e-learning. It starts by considering the phenomenon of e-learning, arguing that e-learning is an artificial, designed phenomenon, and that research approaches need to consider how the e-learning environment works and how it can be improved, before we can consider how effective it is. We will also establish that e-learning inquiry involves a mixture of evaluation and research, and we discuss this in the context of different disciplinary and interdisciplinary research approaches, arguing that e-learning evaluation research involves a varying mixture of a 'search for fundamental understanding' and 'consideration of use'.
We apply the preceding arguments to the e-learning lifecycle, identifying five different forms of evaluation research which are appropriate at various stages: Baseline Analysis, Design Evaluation, Formative Evaluation, Effectiveness Research, and Project-management Evaluation. These forms can be used to guide the design of an e-learning evaluation-research study, in a cyclical research approach. We recognize the strength of design-based research in this context, without claiming that it is appropriate in all circumstances.
We then unpack the process of conducting evaluation research, through the use of divide-and-conquer techniques to break down the complexity of an e-learning evaluation-research study. The five forms of evaluation research allow us to conceptualise specific research questions at a particular position in the e-learning lifecycle, and evaluation-research matrices assist us to identify sources of evidence to address these questions.

Presenter profile:

Associate Professor Rob Phillips works in the Educational Development Unit at Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia. He has worked as a researcher and academic at universities in Australia and Germany since 1982, with a background in theoretical chemistry and computer science. He has worked with educational technology since 1992, designing and project managing educational technology development projects across most discipline areas. His expertise includes educational design, e-learning, distance education, educational policy development and academic staff development. Currently, he provides professional development and mentoring for academic staff in the scholarship of learning and teaching.

His research interests include university policy issues; evaluation research in e-learning; making creative and innovative use of technology; learning analytics; and project management in educational innovations. Rob has 124 publications, including 50 refereed papers, and is active in the management of two journals: the Australasian Journal of Educational Technology and Research in Learning Technology. He has been principal author of two internationally published books "Developer's guide to interactive multimedia" and "Evaluating e-learning: Guiding research and practice".

He is a life member and past-president (1996-2000) of the Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education (ascilite) and is a fellow of the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia. Rob received a Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning from the Australian Learning and Teaching Council in 2007. He was an executive member of the Australasian Council on Open, Distance and E-learning (ACODE) from 2004-2006 and resumes this role in 2012.


This event is co-sponsored by the Tasmanian Institute of Learning and Teaching (TILT) and the Faculty of Health Science