I got this idea from Adiwena (like many Indonesians, he has no last name), a student who responded to the Spiral Model I presented with his own Web of Learning, a model of learning in which the learner is at the center, engaging with a variety of teachers and classes, each of which offers something potentially valuable. The learner has to find the best way to learn in each context, making the most of resources available, and weaving the various courses into the web or pattern of learning s/he needs or desires.
I have given up using the evaluation technique in which you ask people, "If this meeting were a pair of shoes, what kind of shoes would they be? Roman Sandals? Pumps? Flippers?" Or, "If this workshop was a cup of coffee what kind of coffee would it be? Espresso? Turkish coffee? Soy or whole milk?" (I like that kind of thing, but I have found that not everyone does!)
But, we can borrow a tool used to evaluate coffee and other things to evaluate our work: the radar chart. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radar_chart)
A "quick and dirty" evaluation activity.
In groups of three, people prepare a short (2 minute) role play based on this scenario:
It's the day after class. One person meets his/her two friends who attended class. S/he asks them, "How was class last night?", pressing them for details. The role play ends when the friend asks, "will you go to the class next week?" and the person replies.
Like in any role play, it helps to choose a specific place and time of day, so people can imagine a context for their meeting.
Another way to evaluate a course (or any other activity, perhaps), that breaks from the standard evaluation form format. This one takes the form of a debate over this proposition: "This course is (has been) a complete and total waste of time and money."
Form two teams, choose sides by flip of a coin, one team is given the task of arguing for the proposition, the other against.
How to make it easier for people to visualize the course content and then suggest improvements? How to stimulate thinking by making abstractions physical?
Get a dozen cardboard boxes (or other 3-dimensional objects) of different sizes, label each so that it represents a different aspect of the course, for example one box could be tagged: "Writing journal entries on the course website" or "meeting with union activist" or "watching film Human Resources" or "student participation"...
At a recent workshop on participatory techniques for worker education I had the chance to be a participant, giving me the opportunity to study facilitation from the other side of the equation. While the facilitator was quite good, she made a couple of mistakes that are worth describing so as to watch out for them. (It's so much easier to troubleshoot other's mistakes!)
At the end of the workshop, with about 20 minutes to go, the facilitator suggested the group (20 people) do a quick go around, with each person re-introducing herself and making one comment about the workshop.
Here's the problem. Evaluating a course at the end, and/or at various points during the course, is essential to good teaching/learning practice. But, the tools I have used have sometimes felt dull and plodding, like busy work, especially when I try to get people to make the evaluation more specific and concrete.
The problem is worse when the participants are friendly and compliant. Then it really feels pro-forma.