I have read a few of the responses already made and to avoid repeating them have taken a slightly different approach
Why is evaluation important to you and how do you define it?
Why is quality important in eLearning?
For me evaluation is about checking that something is fit for purpose. In the case of a educational course, that the objectives and outcomes are met.
Traditional evaluation in f2f teaching generally occurs at the end of a course as course reviews or programme reviews. This is probably suited for traditional course because our expectation of results from those course are seasoned by what has happened in past courses.
With regards to an elearning resource, course or programme the evaluation is there to check that learning is occurring as we suspected it would. We have expectation of new technology to deliver better results than our traditional teaching, otherwise why would we be using it. This expectation can lead to disappointment as actual results do not exceed what we have come to expect from traditional teaching. Unforeseen problems happen and our deliverables do not meet our expectations. So it is very important to ensure that the quality of the course is of a high standard and that quality is being maintained throughout the course. High quality standard also help to identify areas that require attention.
Quality and Evaluation are very intertwined, to maintain quality there needs to be regular evaluation - evaluation is the tool to checking quality. Unfortunately evaluation has been percieved as a tool for catching lame tutors and in fact at MIT student evaluations were linked to salary increases.
What sort of evaluations mentioned on the presentation are familiar to you already and why?
I have not experienced much formal evaluations. Of course I have encountered the summative evaluation that students give of both the teaching and the course at the end of the course. We used this at MIT primarily to check on student satisfaction, coupled with promotion up the career path.
We also had set up moderation process for assessments, which is a type of evaluation, in that it does check that the curriculum has been covered in sufficient depth. This is t check that our qualification standards confirm with other polytechnics around the country.
There was informal evaluation taking place in the form of one’s own work, or like a reflective appraisal of teaching strategies, to see what worked and if any improvement could be made.