EASEIT-Eng (Evaluative & Advisory Support to Encourage Innovative Teaching—Engineering) aims to assist engineering academics in selecting computer based learning resources for use in their teaching. In order to help them identify software that is right for them and right for their students the project has undertaken standardised evaluations of a wide range of computer based learning packages in use in UK HE engineering courses. We are currently on target to perform fifty evaluations covering thirty-four packages in use at nineteen HE institutions across the UK. The results of these evaluations are being made available to the academic engineering community in the form of short (two sides of A4) case studies which can be accessed via a web-based database (for more information see the EASEIT-Eng website).
Since “the only real test of any learning material is its use under normal course conditions” (Laurillard 1993, p 217) in order to have any validity these evaluations have to be conducted while the software is being used by real students on a real course. Such an evaluation requires a degree of commitment from the lecturer or tutor who is responsible for the course: it will require a certain amount of intrusion into the classroom and require lecturer to spend some time providing the information necessary to adapt the evaluation instruments and in contributing their opinion to the evaluation.
This presentation will outline how EASEIT-Eng has identified potential evaluations and reflect on the strategies which have proven successful at persuading lecturers to commit to hosting an evaluation. This will include discussion of a survey conducted to assess the level of use of computer based learning resources in UK HE Engineering courses (Rothberg 2000); how the evaluation methodology was designed to minimise intrusion into the lecturer’s teaching; how lecturers were contacted and what inducements were offered to them in order to secure their involvement.
We believe that as well as offering a brief introduction to an evaluation methodology with the potential of wide-spread applicability, this paper will be of interest to the many projects and services in the field of Learning Technology that rely on securing practitioner involvement for their success.
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