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Discussion: Project evaluation

Discussion of key issues relating to the evaluation of the cluster C projects

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Rebecca Galley
16 November 2009

During the sessions with Alison Muirhead and Helen Beetham at the Cluster's November CAMEL meeting, some key challenges in evaluating the impact of the projects were identified. (See also Grainne's notes from the session with Alison here). Broadly these questions were asked:

  • How might we evaluate the quality of designs? What criteria are we using?  Are they the same across the projects?
  • What do we mean by the terms 'sharing' or 'community'? Do we mean the same things? How do we evaluate and document change in these?
  • How will we capture the impact of the 'principles' on practice? How can we be 'sure enough' that the changes we discover are as a result of the interventions we make?

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Rebecca Galley
9:19am 8 December 2009

Paul has been working on what we might mean by quality and has been taking a risk management approach - but I will let him explain that. I have been involved in looking at what we might mean by community and what indicators of community we might expect to see. We started this back in August (see blog post1 and blog post 2 ) and are moving forward. Grainne is at Ascilite this week and has reviewed our progress in a paper  - Pushing the boundaries into the unknown, trajectories of user behaviour in new frontiers. Broadly, we are taking a socio-cultural perpective (Vygotsky 1978) (Cole et al 1997) (Engestrom et al 1999) and expect to evidence partly through observable examples of rituals and processes ie co-creation of ideas, knowledge and professional practice through discussion and redefining of concepts, developing heirarchies, social roles and virtual identity.

In its openness Cloudworks supports cross-boundary interaction/ transaction and so we expect  the bounded, tight-knit CoPs that Wenger describes to be quite rare (although we can  see some communities like this emerging on the site). We expect to see something more like the networks Dron & Anderson 2007 suggest (although personally speaking the word network does not do it for me!)

Giota from the OLnet project has written a really interesting paper for the Networked Learning conference applying perspectives from 3 theoretical frameworks to the site:

  • Goffman’s concepts of ‘face-work’ and ‘ritual performance’
  • Engeström’s framework on ‘expansive learning’
  • Collective intelligence (Levy 1998)

These perspectives have really interesting implications in terms of how we might use observations of ie participation and self-representation in our evaluations and analysis.

Rebecca Galley
1:15pm 14 December 2009

The camel meeting made me think about what the definition of sharing objects actually is or means. Here’s what the online dictionary says:

 1. To divide and parcel out in shares; apportion.

2. To participate in, use, enjoy, or experience jointly or in turns.

3. To relate (a secret or experience, for example) to another or others.

4. To accord a share in (something) to another or others: shared her chocolate bar with a friend.


1. To have a share or part: shared in the profits.

2. To allow someone to use or enjoy something that one possesses: Being in daycare taught the child to share.

3. To use or enjoy something jointly or in turns: There is only one computer, so we will have to share.

This ground may have been trodden already but does this tend to suggest that, as sharing involves two parties, the moment of sharing happens when someone else reads a post, not when the post is made? How could these definitions help us clarify how we measure sharing?

 Also think the fourth point about having a ‘share in’ (rather than just ‘sharing’) maybe an interesting subtle distinction to think about too.

 Simon Cross

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