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Ho, C., Cheung, W. S., & Ang, D. B. S. (1999). Improving multimedia design through formative evaluation. In S. P. Loo (Ed.), Proceeds of the MERA-ERA Joint conference 1999: Educational Challenges in the New Millennium (pp. 1212-1216). Malacca, Malaysia.
Authoring tools are increasingly available to schoolteachers. Many teachers are using
these tools to develop multimedia projects for instructional purposes. This paper describes an
experience of pre-service teachers using formative evaluation to improve quality of multimedia
courseware design. In the first semester of 1999, we introduced formative evaluation to a group
of trainee teachers enrolled in module Learning, Thinking and Instructional Technologies. To
fulfil the requirements of this module, the trainee teachers had to design and develop a
multimedia courseware within the period of three weeks. By the end of the second week, the
trainee teachers tested their courseware on their respective target audience. They, then, revised
the courseware according to the feedback obtained in the formative evaluation. Some of the
trainee teachers managed to do the second test before the final submission of the courseware.
Through such an experience, the trainee teachers learned the importance of formative
evaluation in instructional courseware development, which is usually one of the least well-done
parts of multimedia design. All agreed that the feedback generated from the formative
evaluation helped improve the quality of their multimedia courseware. One of the expected
competencies of the pre-service teachers enrolled in the module of Instructional Technology at
National Institute of Education is to use authoring tools to develop multimedia courseware. The
module tries to prepare pre-service teachers to be fluent in pedagogy and basic design theory so
that they may use their newly acquired IT skills to produce educationally sound products.
However, one question that always comes up is how do we know whether the courseware made
by trainee teachers will work. How do we know whether it will work is probably the most
frequently asked question about any educational products. In developing a courseware, we may
have good reasons to believe that it will work as intended, but we do not know whether it
actually works. Although formative evaluation may help to address such a concern, it often
receives low priority. It is not uncommon that commercial software is released before being
tested on that target audience. The assumption is that this software will be validated by the
clients who buy the products. Nonetheless, we believe that as educators pre-service teachers
should know the importance and procedures of formative evaluation. This paper describes an
experience of pre-service teachers using formative evaluation to improve multimedia
courseware design. It discusses the implications of such an experience and suggestions for
improvements. The paper argues that formative evaluation is critical for instruction in any
medium, especially multimedia. Formative evaluation should be an integrated part of the
design process and must be stressed through all stages of courseware development.
This paper was published in the 1999 Proceedings of the MERA-ERA Joint Conference held at Malacca, Malaysia from 1-3 December 1999
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