This review appeared in the CTI Nursing & Midwifery Newsletter, Vol 2, No 3. June 1997

The pack I received contained 7 booklets:

Evaluation of the initial training programme for the IMPCT initiative - ICBL Reports 003/93 - March 1993
Courseware Development within the IMPACT Programme - ICBL Reports 005/93 - Aug 1993
IMPACT Case Study - May 1994
Providing academic staff with new skills in computer based learning - ICBL Reports 007/94 - June 1994
Catalogue of prototype courseware developed on IMPACT - ICBL reports 009/95 - July 1995
Evaluation of the IMPACT initiative - ICBL Reports 010/95 - Oct 1995
IMPACT Training Manual - ICBL Reports 008/95 - November 1995

There is a fair amount of duplication between the booklets as they all start with a brief overview of the IMPACT programme at Herriot-Watt;

Each of the reports show different aspects of the programme and examine different stages of development.

Evaluation of the initial training programme for the IMPCT initiative - ICBL Reports 003/93 - March 1993

This report sets out an overview of the programme, and describes its goals;

The philosophy of "learning by doing" is set out.

This report covers the first 3 of the training activities; Orientation, Workshop Practice & Project definition. The content and method of delivery of each of these is described, with further detail about the workshops on; Courseware production, screen design, instructional design, multimedia, & Authorware.

At each stage the activities were evaluated using questionnaires and semi-structured interviews. The results of the evaluations are included, along with the tools used. Generally evaluations were positive, but some potential improvements (particularly relating to timing & content of sessions) are highlighted. The practical approach in sessions & the opportunity to discuss issues with colleagues were appreciated, but limitations brought about by having time released from other duties were also highlighted.

Courseware Development within the IMPACT Programme - ICBL Reports 005/93 - Aug 1993

This report covers the more in-depth training of a small number (10) of staff released from other duties to undertake courseware development. Areas include; Intensive workshops, project definition and stages of supervised and supported development.

Trainees were encouraged to produce as much of their design on paper (with support from subject specialist colleagues) as possible before using the Authorware software. Again the issues of staff release affected the amount trainees were able to undertake, along with previous computer knowledge and skills.

The use of productivity aids, style sheets and templates are discussed, and arranging material to give students more control over their path through it and increase interactivity.

The final part of this report gives short descriptions of the projects undertaken in; mathematics, biological sciences, chemistry, business organisation, actuarial mathematics & statistics and accountancy and finance.

Because of time constraints little or no evaluation of the materials produced had been undertaken.

An attempt is made to evaluate the skill changes which occurred as a result of the programme.

IMPACT Case Study - May 1994

This short report summarises the content of the 2 earlier reports and summarises the experiences.

Providing academic staff with new skills in computer based learning - ICBL Reports 007/94 - June 1994

This report was written after 3 yrs of the programme and 36 had been released for the intensive training.

The orientation sessions, workshops and training sessions for courseware development, set out in the first report are reviewed.

6 key factors for success are identified;

Each of these are discussed with the positive and negative factors.

The courseware produced is listed, most being in the form of tutorials which could be used for revision or supplementary study, based on templates, and produced using Authorware. Evaluation having been mostly by IMPACT staff in terms of usability, little use with students had been evaluated.

Implications for courseware development and, in particular, delivery and dissemination are discussed., with issues about distribution of material and access to computers coming to the fore. Wider implications about the use of materials in other H.E. institutions are also considered.

Many staff who had been through the programme no longer received any release from their other duties and therefore had limited opportunity to use the skills they had learnt.

Catalogue of prototype courseware developed on IMPACT - ICBL reports 009/95 - July 1995

This report provides brief descriptions & "screenshots" of the courseware developed including; course & level, No of hours of teaching material, delivery platform and availability date, in the following areas;

Evaluation of the IMPACT initiative - ICBL Reports 010/95- Oct 1995

This report contains the final conclusion that the project was successful in meeting its initial aims and provides evidence to support that conclusion.

The evaluation of the orientation session (003/93) are revisited.

The evaluation and overview of the workshops ( 003/93) are expanded upon with more detail of numbers participating and their comments (generally very positive). A session on the World Wide Web having been added since the initial sessions.

The staff release scheme (005/93 & 007/94) is also expanded, with similar evaluation and a consideration of the incorporation of CBL into teaching, as a tool with first year students in large classes. Identified advantages including self-pacing and accessibility. All staff who had been on the scheme had found the experience useful, and wished for development in this area to continue. Generally small team working was recommended.

The role of the ICBL in supporting departments in the development and production of CBL materials was also positively evaluated.

Appendices to this report set out the evaluation strategy and evaluation forms.

IMPACT Training Manual - ICBL Reports 008/95 - November 1995

This is probably the most useful of the documents. It is;

"aimed at anyone in the UK Higher Education community who would like to learn about computer-based learning and Authorware."

It is divided into 5 steps;

  1. What to send to those interested in coming on IMPACT

The report contains forms, handouts etc. used in the sessions throughout the programme. It shows both the learning development envisaged for participants and some of the practical issues which had to be addressed.

General Comments

This collection of reports would be useful for anyone setting up and running an institutional project to get academic & academic related staff more skilled in the design, production, use and evaluation of CBL software.

Some understanding of the issues surrounding CBL use in Higher Education and organisational issues is necessary to gain a full understanding of the material. It would obviously need to be adapted to the particular setting in which the project was being replicated, however some key issues stand out from the content;

Perhaps the weakness of the programme is the lack of evaluation of software in educational use even after the 3 years of the project.

Further information about the project is available from:

Institute for Computer Based Learning,
Herriot-Watt University,
Riccarton Campus,
Edinburgh EH14 4AS
Tel: 0131 451 3282
Fax: 0131 451 3283

Review prepared by:

Created: 24.3.97

Last updated: 3.9.03