Although there has been a long history of distance education, the creation of online education occurred just over a decade and a half ago—a relatively short time in academic terms. Early course delivery via the web had started by 1994, soon followed by a more structured approach using the new category of course management systems.1
The aim of this tutorial is to present practical guidance for evaluating the effectiveness of educational initiatives involving social software and emerging technologies to support student learning and engagement. Examples of such initiatives are: inclusion of a blog in a course to encourage reflective learning, or having a wiki in a course for fostering team-working skills, or an activity in a 3D virtual world to enable students to learn through simulations, or the use of Delicious for bookmarking resources, or an App on a smartphone. ‘Evaluation’ implies investigating the usability, pedagogical effectiveness (does it meet the learning outcomes?), student experience, and impact on direct stakeholders such as educators and technical support staff (in terms of workload and support required).