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H809 – Reading Laurillard (A3.5)

February 24, 2011

Evaluation as a research methodology

and its usefulness of evaluating the question ‘How can learning technologies improve learning’ (Laurillard, 1994).

What is Laurillard’s main argument?

Generally speaking that the conducted studies to evaluate if learning technologies improve learning are good for nothing, because they produce predictable conclusion, which can according to Laurillard ‘no longer be regarded as findings as such, rather as replications. Laurillard criticise that there is a persistent discrepancy between the questions asked and the conclusion the evaluation studies come to. Learning technologies has the potential to improve learning is the most common used conclusion. Laurillard provides a list of predictable conclusions which sounded pretty familiar to me 😉

  • students are enthusiastic about the medium
  • there is no significant difference measure in learning outcome in comparison with an alternative medium/method of teaching
  • Inadequate organisation / logistical problems / technical difficulties meant that the medium did not realise full potential
  • As more supportive the school administration or senior manager, as more successful the medium
  • etc.

That pretty much applies to Hiltz and Meinke (1989) who came up with quite similar conclusions.

‘The title to the Laurillard paper poses the question ‘How can learning technologies improve learning?’ She could also have written a paper about how learning technologies can ‘support’ or ‘change’ learning. What does the use of the word ‘improve’ imply for how elearning technologies are evaluated‘.

My initial thought was that the word ‘improve’ implies that the new technology has to be more or less a success. It is new, innovative and has thus a built-in guarantee for success. Laurillard add for consideration to imagine that X (the technology) that does not have the potential to improve learning. No researcher really wants to come up with no improvement and I can imagine that when the ministry of education commission a study to evaluate the question ‘Do learning technologies improve learning’, they expect somehow that the technology has indeed improve learning.

Well, not sure if my assumption is right, I will need to compare it with my colleagues.


Reference

Laurillard, D. (1994) ‘How can learning technologies improve learning?’, Law Technology Journal, vol. 3, no. 2; also available online at http://web.archive.org/web/20070322002729/http://www.law.warwick.ac.uk/ltj/3-2j.html (Accessed 2 December 2010).

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