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ODFL Research

Practitioner Research and Evaluation Skills Training

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    prest-reviewCOL has developed a set of OER learning resources for training in research skills – PREST.
    See below for a review of this course.

    PREST Review
    By Stephen J Addison – Moray College – UHI Millennium Institute
    & Terry Anderson – Athabasca University

    Introduction: Subject, Scope and Type
    With the continuing interest and investment in e-learning and other forms of distance
    education, comes increased interest in research as a means to direct innovation and
    determine cost and learning effectiveness. However, conducting (and evaluating) quality
    research requires a set of skills that are not always available to distance education
    institutions, nor individual practitioners. To meet this need the Commonwealth of
    Learning has published the Practitioner Research and Evaluation Skills Training
    (PREST) series of print-based materials (PDF files) designed to help Open and Distance
    Learning (ODL) practitioners plan and conduct “principled and systematic” research and
    evaluation.

    The PREST materials were developed in collaboration with the International Research
    Foundation for Open Learning (IRFOL) and downloadable for free (for individual use)
    from the web at http://www.col.org/prest.

    The series design is based on the development (by the reader) of a locally relevant
    research project. Each of the core modules (Planning, gathering data, analyzing, reporting
    etc) is presented in a way that assists the reader to apply the new information to their own
    context. The authors of the PREST modules are ODL practitioners and practicing
    researchers, and the editorial advisory board reads like a Who’s Who of distance
    education research and scholarship. Although designed specifically for ODL
    practitioners, the PREST materials could easily be applied outside of the ODL context by
    researchers from other domains looking to develop their research and evaluation skills.

    Content Summary
    The PREST foundation course consists of two sets of learning materials, 6 modules in
    each set. The core modules in the first set provide a foundation in research and evaluation
    methods and design. The module titles are:
    A1 Doing Educational Research and Evaluation in ODL
    A2 Planning Research and Evaluation
    A3 Getting and Analysing Quantitative Data
    A4 Getting and Analysing Qualitative Data
    A5 Mixed Research Methods
    A6 Reporting on Research to Support or Influence Change

    Each module is supported by resource materials that also can be downloaded from the
    COL website. These materials consist of journal articles, book chapters and some excel
    spreadsheets (for analyzing quantitative data module). Unfortunately, many of these
    materials are copyright to the authors or their publishers, complicating the re-use issue.
    The second set of materials consists of six handbooks, each focused on research and
    evaluation in a specific field of ODL. These are:
    B1 Using programme monitoring in research and evaluation
    B2 Measuring outcomes
    B3 Cost and economics of open and distance learning
    B4 Programme evaluation and its role in quality assurance
    B5 Researching marginalised and disadvantaged learners
    B6 Researching tutoring and learning support

    You can read the full review in the document.

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