Following Up After Synchronous Sessions
Evaluating your session
Levels of Evaluation
Choosing whether or not to informally or formally have the participants evaluate your synchronous online session depends (again) on your session's purpose and objectives. If you are holding a standalone session that is a workshop for colleagues in your field, for example, you may want ask for their feedback in an evaluation. However, if you are using a synchronous online platform to hold unstructured office hours or you simply want to begin to build community with your participants at the beginning of a longer, asynchronous course, you may choose not to have your participants evaluate the session. Do what you think is best in alignment with your purpose for holding the session.
If you choose to evaluate at some level, here are some options:
The most informal level of evaluation might be to ask participants for their brief, qualitative feedback on the session. An example is a simple, three-question Stop / Start / Continue sheet (PDF) or something like it. This type of formative feedback opportunity could be especially useful if you are gathering feedback for changing your behaviour/content in future sessions.
These types of informal feedback sheets can be anonymous if desired.
The eLearning Guild, in their Handbook on Synchronous e-Learning (2007), talk about using "smile sheets" as a "Level 1 evaluation" after a synchronous online session. This kind of evaluation asks participants for their opinion about how the session went and their satisfaction with it. Question areas could include how the participant felt about:
- the content and activities of the session, including materials
- the pace of the session
- your own facilitation of the session
- whether they would attend again
- how they might apply their learning from the session to their own situation
Or if they had any difficulties with registration, connecting to the session, etc. These types of evaluations could include qualitative or quantitative questions and can also be anonymous if desired.
In some cases you may need to focus your evaluation more on measuring learning that has occurred with your participants during the session. What has changed for them as a result of participating in the session? If this is the level of evaluation that you choose to do, you will likely want to look back at your intended learning outcomes that you have set forth for the session and tie your evaluation questions specifically to those outcomes. Here you are attempting to measure whether your participants actually do know/do/value want you intended for them to be able to by the end of the session. In this vein, this type of evaluation likely shouldn't be anonymous.
You may wish to think about the timing of sending out this type of evaluation. It could be that you will learn more about what participants have actually been able to retain if you allow some time to pass before sending out your evaluation.
These types of evaluations could also include qualitative or quantitative questions and are arguably the most sophisticated (and difficult!) of the three kinds of evaluation mentioned here. Effective assessment of learning is, of course, also the subject of an entire other course!
Accomplishing Evaluations Technically
There are many options for how you technically set up your evaluations in the synchronous online environment. Some of the ideas below may take more work to set up, and some may take more work to collate later (e.g. paper-based).
|Type of Evaluation||Ideas for Accomplishing it Technically|
Have we missed any evaluation options that you have used or seen used that could work in concert with synchronous online sessions? Post in the Week 3 Discussion area to share your experience or questions and we can add to this list.