Evaluating Online Learning: Challenges and Strategies for Success
July 2008

Recommendations for Translating Evaluation Findings Into Action
  • Online learning programs often exist within larger learning organizations and policy and practice frameworks that encourage or inhibit program success. Use evaluation results to encourage needed changes in program context.

  • Key stakeholders, such as parents and students, teachers, schools, administrators, policymakers, and the general public, can be informed through the communication of evaluation results. Communication of evaluation results can help online learning programs demonstrate their value or worth, demonstrate accountability, and dispel myths about the nature of online learning.

  • If the resulting recommendations are actionable, online learning programs should move quickly to implement them. Don't just file the evaluation away; make it a living document that informs the program.

  • Work to create an ongoing relationship among evaluators, program leaders, and staff. Create ongoing opportunities to talk about the evaluation, its findings, and its implications for improving the program.

  • Engage early with anyone whose behavior will be expected to change as a result of the evaluation findings—including personnel at distant sites who help manage the program. Introduce them to evaluators and communicate the purpose of the evaluation.

  • Institutionalize process improvement and performance measurement practices put in place during the evaluation. Consider using a structured, formal process for turning evaluation recommendations into program improvements, including timelines and staff assignments.

  • Review evaluation recommendations regularly and continually track the progress that has been made toward them.

  • Rank evaluation recommendations both in order of importance and feasibility. Develop a plan for addressing the highest priority recommendations first.

  • Continue to conduct evaluation activities internally or externally to continuously improve your program over time.

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Last Modified: 10/20/2009