Some of the tools we use for evaluation support

We provide the evaluation support for JISC's Curriculum Design and Delivery Programmes. (There's an interview with the programme managers in e-Learning Focus, which gives an overview of the background and intent behind these programmes.) As part of that we were recently asked how technology makes a difference to the processes we are focused on. We see technology as vital in our evaluation support role. Zoho Projects is our online project management tool and we use it to do the usual kinds of planning and tracking of tasks. It is also a key part of how we co-ordinate our interactions with project teams - and with 15 Curriculum Delivery and 12 Curriculum Design projects that is vital!

As well as using technology to manage our work, we use it to scan what projects are doing. Project blogs are an excellent source of updates on the thinking behind project developments, and the support team have recently put up Netvibes pages that provide aggregrated feeds for the Delivery projects and Design projects blogs. A great way of finding out what is new, without having to visit every blog individually. Twitter also plays a role, giving more personal insights from individual team members, or just for getting a flavour of what is being discussed within project clusters (#dcb09 is the hashtag Cluster B are using to pinpoint their exchanges). I've been experimenting with Mixero for filtering what is happening on Twitter - great so far! This kind of scanning helps us to keep track of how projects are progressing, suggest evaluation activities they may want to consider at any given time, and to provide evaluation support in an ad-hoc way.

Finally, we are exploring how to provide an interactive mapping of projects' evaluation activities using Web2.0 features. Spicy Nodes, which is a bit like a movable mindmap, is one option. Here's the beginnings of how that might develop, with a sample of Delivery projects.

Watch this space for updates!

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