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published: March 2004
A Rolling Evaluation Gathers No Moss
Continuous, formative evaluation, from inception to completion, with rapid revisions, was key to the successful development of Kids Design Network (KDN) by the DuPage Children's Museum (DCM). Although a thorough evaluation plan was developed at the beginning of the project, it soon became apparent that additional strategies were necessary to insure success. As new issues were identified and planned techniques were found inadequate, new evaluation techniques were developed and implemented. The development of KDN illustrates the importance of flexible, formative evaluation from the inception of a program to its completion.
KDN is an interactive Internet-based learning program for elementary aged students. Using the KDN Web site (http://www.dupagechildrensmuseum.org/kdn) , students work collaboratively with an engineer (via real-time communication on the KDN Engineer Chatboard), their classmates and teacher to design, build and test a gadget that meets an engineering challenge. Interactive portions of the Web site include a drawing program where students draw a design for their gadget and a whiteboard with chat where children and engineers can mark on the student's design and communicate via text chat.
DCM brought in an evaluation consultant in the very early stages of KDN development. The evaluator became an integral part of development and continuously collaborated with the team. The collaborative nature of the evaluation and the fluidity of the plan ultimately produced a workable, user friendly Web site consistent with the museum's mission.