Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning

The United States of America’s Department of Education has just released a report on the “Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning“.  The 93 page document sets out the answers to the following questions:

1. How does the effectiveness of online learning compare with that of face-to-face instruction?

 2. Does supplementing face-to-face instruction with online instruction enhance learning?

 3. What practices are associated with more effective online learning?

 4. What conditions influence the effectiveness of online learning?

 With our current educational system, the majority of us will be interested in questions 2, 3 and 4 as we implement online learning alongside face-to-face teaching instead of replacing it. (The range of ‘learning outcomes’ that were measured varied depending on the subject taught.) The report goes on to state: 

The corpus of 51 effect sizes extracted from 46 studies meeting these criteria was sufficient to demonstrate that in recent applications, online learning has been modestly more effective, on average, than the traditional face-to-face instruction with which it has been compared.

 And on average, online learning produced better student learning outcomes than face-to-face instruction in those studies with random-assignment experimental designs (p < .001) and in those studies with the largest sample sizes (p < .001).

 Studies comparing variations of online learning provides some additional insights with respect to designing effective online learning experiences. The practice with the strongest evidence of effectiveness is inclusion of mechanisms to prompt students to reflect on their level of understanding as they are learning online. In a related vein, there is some evidence that online learning environments with the capacity to individualize instruction to a learner’s specific needs improves effectiveness.

In brief, students who have been exposed to both online and face-to-face teaching and learning have fared better than those who have experienced only face-to-face learning or only online learning. As most of us interested in embedding new technologies into teaching and learning use this method, this is an exciting (but a hopefully expected) finding.

The report concludes with this statement:

Educators making decisions about online learning need rigorous research examining the effectiveness of online learning for different types of students and subject matter as well as studies of the relative effectiveness of different online learning practices.

It seems that there have been few other studies into the comparison of face-to-face teaching and the quantifiable efficacy of online learning and although this study admits the results are encouraging, it is being left up to individual teachers and schools to determine for themselves if combining online and face-to-face teaching and learning suits their students and subjects.

Nevertheless, this report is encouraging for any teacher who needs to demonstrate to others the worth of using Web 2.0 tools in teaching and learning. 

The World of Web 2.0

The State Library of Victoria is offering a free professional learning session on The Web 2.0 World. With participants able to experiment and gain hands-on experience with Web 2.0 tools, this session will be extremely valuable for anyone who needs some support and information about using the Web 2.0 World.

Held on Tuesday 9th June between 6 and 7.30pm in Experimedia at the State Library of Victoria, this free event does require bookings. Phone (03) 8664 7099 or email  bookings@slv.vic.gov.au.


Ready to create your own podcasts? Audacity is a tried and tested application that will help users to create  podcasts for student or professional learning.

Audacity has to be downloaded and installed onto the computer you wish to record from. Once installed, upon opening Audacity, it can look unfriendly to the first time user. However, help is at hand. There is Online help as well as a wiki that gives you tips and tricks to getting the best out of Audacity. And thanks to John Pearce from Salty Solutions, here is a guide to ‘Getting started with Audacity’. It explains all you’ll need to start podcasting today.


If you are looking for a networking platform with all of the benefits of Facebook and the added security of introductions to contacts, then LinkedIn may be the site for you.

What is LinkedIn?
What is LinkedIn?
The LinkedIn website offers more details:

What is LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is an interconnected network of experienced professionals from around the world, representing 170 industries and 200 countries. You can find, be introduced to, and collaborate with qualified professionals that you need to work with to accomplish your goals.

When you join, you create a profile that summarizes your professional expertise and accomplishments. You can then form enduring connections by inviting trusted contacts to join LinkedIn and connect to you. Your network consists of your connections, your connections’ connections, and the people they know, linking you to a vast number of qualified professionals and experts. Through your network you can:

  • Manage the information that’s publicly available about you as professional
  • Find and be introduced to potential clients, service providers, and subject experts who come recommended
  • Create and collaborate on projects, gather data, share files and solve problems
  • Be found for business opportunities and find potential partners
  • Gain new insights from discussions with likeminded professionals in private group settings
  • Discover inside connections that can help you land jobs and close deals
  • Post and distribute job listings to find the best talent for your company

 Relationships Matter

Your professional network of trusted contacts gives you an advantage in your career, and is one of your most valuable assets. LinkedIn exists to help you make better use of your professional network and help the people you trust in return.
Our mission is to connect the world’s professionals to accelerate their success. We believe that in a global connected economy, your success as a professional and your competitiveness as a company depends upon faster access to insight and resources you can trust.

LinkedIn is free, however, as per the usual, there are premium services that can be subscribed to. Here is a YouTube video that explains more:


Bibme is an online tool that helps students (and teachers, in fact anyone who needs to) compile a bibliography.

Bibme homepage
Bibme homepage

There are two ways to enter the data needed for Bibme to automatically create your bibliography:

  1. Scan or type in the ISBN
  2. If the ISBN cannot be found by Bibme, enter the publication details into the template

Once this has been done, click “Add to my bibliography”. Bibliographies can be saved to your Bibme account or downloaded directly into Microsoft Word. MLA, APA, Chicago, & Turabian styles are supported by Bibme.

Books, magazines, films, newspapers, website and journals are all supported, although some Australian publications are not catered for. In this instance, simply use the manual fill mode explained in step two above.

Bibme has a citation guide, so that if appropriate, students can learn how to write their own bibliographies without Bibme’s help.

Citation guide

Citation guide

We all know how difficult it can be to get students to complete a bibliography (correctly or even at all), so Bibme may be a useful resource for teachers who require a bibliography to be submitted with schoolwork. Please note that users must be over 13 years of age.

ICT Toolkit

Anesti Anestis, the Whittlesea Network Coach for the Department of Educaton and Early Childhood Development‘s Northern Metropolitan Region Ultranet Team, is one of the people responsible for a sensational ICT toolkit wiki.

ICT toolkit homepage

Anthony Oldmeadow, Tennille Blake and the remaining NMR Ultranet Coaches joined Anesti in developing the wiki, which is home to all sorts of ICT tools.  Anesti says,

Since its inception in March other state Ultranet Coaches have also contributed, notably Krystie Alleaume. We have designed it as a resource that any teacher looking to apply various ICT ‘class tools’ has a choice of over 40 categories, with each category linking to and listing anywhere from 5-20 tools.  On last count, there are over 500 different tools teachers can explore!  The site links to other powerful wikis and the epotential resource (which provides student and teacher examples of some of the tools). In addition to class tools 1 & 2 there is detailed support for elearning leaders undertaking the job of eplanning in a school.  Many of the resources are custom made by Ultranet coaches (like the epotental analysis spreadsheets) to assist with greater interpretation and analysis of school data.

A - Z of online tools
A – Z of online tools

The wiki is not locked and is open to any member who would like to share their work, findings and ideas. Look forward to seeing you in and around the icttoolkit wikispace!

 Thanks to Anesti, Anthony, Tennille, Krystie and all of the other educators who have developed such a useful resource.

Free professional learning @ SLV

 A few more interesting events are coming up at the State Library of Victoria, all of them are free of charge (but bookings are required), which in this financial environment has got to be good.

On Tuesday 5th May, there is a forum on ‘The Web 2.0 World’. The forum will examine the use of Web 2.0 technologies to find, engage and collaborate with users. Click here  to book.

On Tuesday 19th May, The Learning to Learn series focuses on ‘Today’s Kids,  Tomorrow’s School.’ This session will look how students need to learn and what impact new approaches to education are having on students and their futures. Click here  to book.

On Tuesday 9th June, ‘The Web 2.0 World: Play’ gives participants the option to experiment with Web 2.0 tools and technologies. (The link for booking this session is not yet available. It will be added when ready.)

These sessions are not only relevant to teachers/librarians, but can count towards the VIT PD requirements.


In a previous post about Pascoe Vale Primary School students creating e-books, teacher Margo Edgar mentioned getting students to create their e-books using PhotoStory or VoiceThread.

Group conversations around images, documents and videos
Group conversations around images, documents and videos

VoiceThread is an excellent Web 2.0 resource that enables users to create text, add videos and images and then record an audio overlay. Microphones and phones can be used to record audio. Users can comment on other people’s VoiceThread uploads, so there can be collaboration with other students and teachers if you wish.

VoiceThread is such an amazing and powerful tool, it is probably better to experience it for yourself, so have a look at this screencast that shows exactly how VoiceThread works: VoiceThread screencast.

There is also an excellent wiki that shows examples of VoiceThread projects in classrooms and school libraries.  So creating digital storytelling and e-books is now much easier, both for students and teachers. Students should find e-books lots of fun to produce and share using VoiceThread!

VoiceThread could also be used for online professional development or online learning. Staff meetings or staff PD could be presented using VoiceThread and then saved for later access for people who were absent, or who want to revisit the presentation.

Some lessons could be uploaded to VoiceThread for students who are ill or absent and for sharing with other classes or schools. Distance education could take advantage of VoiceThread’s free accounts as well. Thanks to Margo Edgar at Pascoe Vale Primary School for the introduction to VoiceThread.

Jing Project

Jing Project is a screencasting tool. What does that mean? Jing Project allows users to record output from their computer screen. So whether it’s a static screenshot or a video recording demonstrating how to use a program, Jing allows users to record, save and then share images. Captures can be annotated with arrows, text and highlighting before saving. Images and recordings can then be saved to computer, Flickr or embedded into URLs.


When you sign up to Jing, the screencasting icons are loaded onto your computer and users are able to see and access them at all times for ease of use. The icons are placed at the top of the screen and are fairly unobtrusive.

Jing’s blog gives more information about capabilities and how to use the tool. Here is a video that shows how Jing can be used.


Storyz is a Web 2.0 tool that enables users to create and share their own stories. The fun part is that you can add text, images and video and invite friends (or colleagues or in the case of students, class mates) to view and even add to your story. Students could use Storyz to create their own e-book.

Storyz homepage

Storyz homepage

Your stories can be kept totally private, or shared with whoever you wish. Once shared with specific people, your story can be added to. This could be an interesting way to write a class story, or for students to collaborate with each other. Storyz can be accessed online or through mobile phones.

Storyz could be a great tool for developing writers to upload their multimedia stories and seek feedback from selected sources.