Online programs fill the educational landscape these days, but how do we measure their effectiveness? During a recent webinar, Roxanne Russell presented some strategies for doing so, drawn from her work in shaping the revised online/hybrid D.Min program at Candler School of Theology at Emory University. Russell is director of online learning at Candler.

It is important to assess effectiveness at various points in an online program, Russell said, and to collect assessment data, both for the improvement of the program and for accountability to the school and accrediting agencies. She explained data collection in the diagnostic/development stage of a program, during the piloting of the program, and in an ongoing fashion, focusing in each case on student satisfaction, behavior, and performance. Ad hoc opportunities to collect data also arise, she said.

Effectiveness can be measured variously. Demographic data on who students are, and behavior and performance data on both how students (and faculty) use the website and how well they use it can all be useful. Data is most frequently collected through surveys and through learning management system logs.

Russell also explained in detail the process by which Candler piloted their D.Min. To learn more, you can view the recorded webinar, “Measuring effectiveness: Evaluation strategies for online learning programs.”