Evaluation Method for Virtual Learning Applications
Acta Universitatis Tamperensis No. 1627

By Raimo Halinen
September 2011
Tampere University Press
Distributed by Coronet Books
ISBN: 9789514484865
197 pages
$87.50 Paper original

The importance of evaluation methods has been recognized as research subjects since the 1970s. Researchers suggest evaluation methods to use, as a tool for producing valuable information to support decision-making and justifying information system investments within organizations. An evaluation situation is a unique phenomenon in an organization and depends on time. Evaluation processes are identified by ex-ante, ongoing and ex-post evaluation. Off-the-shelf packages are considered to a small and medium sized organization as a solution, when decision-makers are solving the needs of information systems. At formal learning organizations, in many cases, the use of virtual learning environments is based on teacher’s actions, not systematic evaluation and decision-making in previous years. At the organizational level, decision-makers are slowly recognizing the need for strategic and tactical aspects, and the need for systematic evaluation before making a decision; which kind of virtual learning environment meets the strategic, tactical and operative requirements and satisfies properties of a learning model.

This dissertation investigates an evaluation situation and evaluation process, and it identifies stakeholders’ roles in the evaluation process as an evaluator and a decision-maker. The purpose is to develop an evaluation method based on requirements of strategic, tactical and operative levels of organization. The evaluation criteria are also identified by using the collaborative problem based learning method.

An ex-ante evaluation method for a virtual learning application is developed and demonstrated. The developed ex-ante evaluation method utilizes the analytic hierarchy process (AHP)-method as a calculation tool, which is used to demonstrate the evaluation method’s usability. The purpose of demonstration is to show how the developed evaluation method can be used in ex-ante evaluation.

The result of this thesis is an evaluation method for a virtual learning application, showing that an evaluation method can be used in the specified evaluation situation at a formal learning organization. The developed ex-ante evaluation method takes into account requirements of four stakeholder groups: students, teachers, ICT-staff, and executives, properties of learning method and derived features of a virtual learning application.


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