As this series on the phases of Instructional Design comes to a close, I’m going to be talking about an under-utilized phase (in my opinion) – Evaluation. I’ve talked about Formative and Summative Evaluation in the past, and I have to emphasize the cyclical nature in which I believe evaluation should occur.
Evaluation is essential to the success of any course. How can you know if your learning outcomes are aligning with the course objectives? How can you identify whether your students are grasping the material in the intended manner? How can you identify training gaps in the course? How can you gauge the overall success of the course? Evaluation. That’s how!
Now, evaluation doesn’t need to just be reserved for post-implementation. You can evaluate your course at various phases in the Instructional Design process. For example, you might want to evaluate your analysis for the course…is a course going to solve the problem? You might also want to evaluate during the design phase…will the design of this course meet the project requirements (is it responsive? Does it meet the needs?)? You may want to evaluate during the development phase…What are the stakeholder’s thoughts on the prototype? And you’ll definitely want to evaluate in the implementation phase, because that’s where your users will likely barrage you with ‘it’s not working!’ emails.
But at the very least, evaluation should always occur at the end of the instructional design process as doing so provides you with feedback and additional context with which you can improve upon the course. No one is perfect, and that can be also be said for courses – no one course is perfect. You can get close, but there is likely always something you could have improved upon. Evaluation gives you the information you need to improve upon your courses.