Streamline News

Integrating Repository Function with Work Practice

Evaluation of e-cat

Posted by Janet Finlay on September 23, 2007

e-cat works within MS Word to allow the creation of structured learning objects with metadata and is one of the tools which Streamline is starting with, particularly in considering the creation of metadata. E-cat was developed on a previous project (HLSI) by Streamline partner Kainao Ltd and was further enhanced through the Replika project. However both of these projects demonstrated serious problems with getting users to understand and enter metadata. Enter Streamline. Starting with a full evaluation of e-cat we will then build on it to develop more effective metadata capture tools. Our evaluation has three strands:

  1. A detailed structured evaluation of e-cat with a small number of individuals, using eye tracking, observation and post-task interviews to explore issues.
  2. An in depth semi-structured interview with an active self-taught user and tutor of e-cat.
  3. A web-based distribution of e-cat evaluated by online questionnaire.

The first two of these evaluations are now complete and we have a set of detailed recommendations for enhancement and development. The interview (summarised here) reiterates the problem of getting users to work with metadata and highlights the issue of user support – partly addressed through the creation of a practical user guide which guides users through basic use of e-cat. The observational evaluation with users is provided in the Evaluation summary together with a full list of findings and recommendations. It should be noted here that users were given information from which to construct their metadata. The third community evaluation will show how the tool will fare when used without this scaffolding. For this third evaluation activity the tool has not been changed but a user guide is included for support. This trial will start shortly.

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