Friday, August 22, 2014

Evaluation & Innovation: Michael's Perspective

I recently returned from my regular trip to the Distance Teaching and Learning Conference in Madison, WI. One of my highlights was a pre-conference workshop on developmental evaluation with Michael Q. Patton. I asked Michael to lend his voice to our series.

I am the Evaluator- Patton
Michael Q. Patton, Ph.D.

Michael Quinn Patton is an independent evaluation consultant based in Minnesota. He is former President of the American Evaluation Association (AEA).  He has authored six evaluation books including a 4th edition of Utilization-Focused Evaluation and 3rd edition of Qualitative Research and Evaluation Methods. He is recipient of the Alva and Gunnar Myrdal Award for "outstanding contributions to evaluation use and practice" and the Paul F. Lazarsfeld Award for lifetime contributions to evaluation theory, both from AEA.  His latest book is Developmental Evaluation: Applying Complexity Concepts to Enhance Innovation and Use.


How do we recognize innovation in teaching and learning with technology?
Innovation is contextual not absolute.  What is accepted practice in one context may be different and innovative in another.  Thus, innovation is a socially constructed notion which has to be understood and interpreted within a context. 

What challenges might practitioners and researchers face when evaluating innovation? Do you have ideas for how to overcome these challenges?
The challenge is that traditional ways of doing evaluation (logic models, SMART goals, predetermined outcome indicators, mandated rubrics and metrics) inhibit innovation.  The solution is developmental evaluation which accompanies innovators on the emergent journey of innovation, adapting evaluation to emergent issues.  For details about developmental evaluation see:

Can you point to some promising innovations in teaching and learning?
Digital portfolios for online learners to archive their learning and products of their learning. These are accessible to the learners on a cumulative, long-term basis and can be shared for special purposes (e.g., a job opportunity).

Are there some effective research initiatives or studies our readers should examine? If not, why do you think that is the case?
Online learning, like all effective interventions, is most effective when geared to specific subgroups with identifiable needs.  For example, homeless youth have special needs.  Here is a study that identifies how to work effectively with homeless youth:

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