Academic journal article Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning

Developing a Conceptual Framework for Evaluation of E-Content of Virtual Courses: E-Learning Center of an Iranian University Case Study

Academic journal article Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning

Developing a Conceptual Framework for Evaluation of E-Content of Virtual Courses: E-Learning Center of an Iranian University Case Study

Article excerpt

Introduction

In recent years, education technologies have provided opportunity to benefit from efficient methods of learning (Geogieva, Todorov, & Smrikarov, 2003).

Also, diverse use of the Internet, web services and multimedia technologies have changed traditional learning into e-learning and have made it an important educational tool in universities (Chen, 2009; Shih, 2008). E-learning as a functional term has been introduced in the education field along with information technology, and in many countries, educational institutions, particularly universities, e-learning is a part of their long-term plans and they have put substantial investment into developing e-learning (Triantafillou, Pomportis, & Georgiadou, 2002). Indeed all universities and educational institutes around the world have been designed around providing e-learning in order to respond to increasing educational demands.

In many developed countries applications of e-learning courses is many times higher than the total higher education growth (Kurilovas & Dagiene, 2009). Due to growing popularity of this type of training, to enhance the quality of learning in e-learning, it should be noted that the quality of the electronic content is an important part of the training.

New research conducted around the world shows that e-learning, virtual learning contexts and managed services provide benefits to institutions and training centers, but besides all these positive points, challenges remain such as: learning rate, effectiveness of educational content, quality of content, use of e-learning standards and instructional design. It is important that materials of the highest quality are produced, in this era of rapidly increasing use of e-learning, in order to achieve effective learning. (Rubin, Fernandes, Avgerinou, & Moore, 2010; Kay & Knaack, 2009; Gutierrez y Restrepo, Benavidez, & Gutierrez, 2012; Raghuveer & Tripathy, 2012).

This study identifies criteria for judging the quality and effectiveness of learning objects and e-content, as well as presenting a framework for evaluation of e-content for virtual courses and tests the framework on two courses.

This paper is organized as follows: first learning objects are explained in the context of instructional design, then existing frameworks for e-learning evaluation are discussed, next the methods used for this study are outlined, followed by a description of the iterative approach taken to develop the proposed framework. After testing the framework on two courses, the results are discussed.

Learning Objects and Instructional Design

In order to achieve high quality content, one of the most important issues is: attention to basic elements of content and enrichment of these components. Learning Objects (LO) are the basic elements of E-learning. As they correspond to the same standards, one can use any combination of them provided they match each other. By matching LOs, one can form bigger units of learning content such as: topics, lessons or whole courses (Fallon & Brown, 2003).

Harman and Koohang asserted that "a learning object is not merely a chunk of information packaged to be used in instructional settings. A learning object, therefore, can include anything that has pedagogical value--digital or non-digital such as a case study, a film, a simulation, an audio, a video, an animation, a graphic image, a map, a book, or a discussion board so long as the object can be contextualized by individual learners. The learner must be able to make meaningful connections between the learning object and his/her experiences or knowledge he/she previously mastered" (p. 2). For the purpose of e-learning, a learning object is digital in nature (Koohang, Floyd, & Stewart, 2011)

Daniel Churchill in his work has reviewed, various definitions and classifications for learning objects that, most investigators and institutes and universities around the world have offered and then he concludes "It seems that all learning objects are in common in terms of these features: 1. …

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