This is an open group space for people who are working in research in open, online and flexible learning in the Pacific. We welcome people who are looking for research partners and who are interested in learning or sharing research skills.
prest-reviewCOL has developed a set of OER learning resources for training in research skills – PREST.
See below for a review of this course.
By Stephen J Addison – Moray College – UHI Millennium Institute
& Terry Anderson – Athabasca University
Introduction: Subject, Scope and Type
With the continuing interest and investment in e-learning and other forms of distance
education, comes increased interest in research as a means to direct innovation and
determine cost and learning effectiveness. However, conducting (and evaluating) quality
research requires a set of skills that are not always available to distance education
institutions, nor individual practitioners. To meet this need the Commonwealth of
Learning has published the Practitioner Research and Evaluation Skills Training
(PREST) series of print-based materials (PDF files) designed to help Open and Distance
Learning (ODL) practitioners plan and conduct “principled and systematic” research and
The PREST materials were developed in collaboration with the International Research
Foundation for Open Learning (IRFOL) and downloadable for free (for individual use)
from the web at http://www.col.org/prest.
The series design is based on the development (by the reader) of a locally relevant
research project. Each of the core modules (Planning, gathering data, analyzing, reporting
etc) is presented in a way that assists the reader to apply the new information to their own
context. The authors of the PREST modules are ODL practitioners and practicing
researchers, and the editorial advisory board reads like a Who’s Who of distance
education research and scholarship. Although designed specifically for ODL
practitioners, the PREST materials could easily be applied outside of the ODL context by
researchers from other domains looking to develop their research and evaluation skills.
The PREST foundation course consists of two sets of learning materials, 6 modules in
each set. The core modules in the first set provide a foundation in research and evaluation
methods and design. The module titles are:
A1 Doing Educational Research and Evaluation in ODL
A2 Planning Research and Evaluation
A3 Getting and Analysing Quantitative Data
A4 Getting and Analysing Qualitative Data
A5 Mixed Research Methods
A6 Reporting on Research to Support or Influence Change
Each module is supported by resource materials that also can be downloaded from the
COL website. These materials consist of journal articles, book chapters and some excel
spreadsheets (for analyzing quantitative data module). Unfortunately, many of these
materials are copyright to the authors or their publishers, complicating the re-use issue.
The second set of materials consists of six handbooks, each focused on research and
evaluation in a specific field of ODL. These are:
B1 Using programme monitoring in research and evaluation
B2 Measuring outcomes
B3 Cost and economics of open and distance learning
B4 Programme evaluation and its role in quality assurance
B5 Researching marginalised and disadvantaged learners
B6 Researching tutoring and learning support