As epprobate, TOLDCo, and other partners around the world, grow as a community, we have found that our focus is changing from assessment of quality in online courseware with some guidance when needed, to guidance, mentoring, enhancing and supporting quality in online learning, with some assessment if required. We have also found that our course for reviewers has a more general application, helping to provide the basis of a professional approach to Quality in Online learning.
Once upon a time education was based in institutions, which were seen as seats of learning. Every day people would accept the quality of the courses they took, presented by people they trusted to get them through exams. One day the internet gave people the opportunity to comment publicly on the quality of the products they bought. Because of that clever companies like Amazon took advantage of these comments to encourage buyers’ confidence and improve sales. Because of that people started looking for reviews of products in all sorts of selling areas before they made a purchase. Until finallyeducation realised that students are the best judges of course quality and began to prove the quality of their courses by showing student reviews alongside adverts for courses.
To be fair this is a few more words than 100 (127 if you wish to count) and the ‘Until finally’ bit might look like wishful thinking but it is happening now on the Unistats website (https://unistats.direct.gov.uk/) which is being linked by universities to their prospectus information against particular courses.
So what has all this got to do with education and in particular online education?
Well for a start I see education as being akin to selling and, before you all write comments to object to the analogy, not the old fashioned, second-hand car type selling. I mean the selling of ideas, bringing our audience (students/ learners, etc.) to a new way of understanding, hopefully, somewhere near to our own. Dan Pink’s book is all about the selling of ideas. The idea behind the Analysis part of ADDIE is that we take the perspective of our learners, understand their background, family, experience and approach to learning. We already have the Tesco’s model in education with the current class sizes, universities opening their doors to wider participation and industry entertaining online education. We have teachers, lecturers and trainers who try to make sure that quality is also considered; they supply quality environments and attempt to limit online class sizes; they encourage small group interaction, self-development and self-directed learning; they support, cajole, scaffold and guard netiquette. But there are changes afoot in education. Course developers are encouraged to skip past the analysis stage(s), which provide the chance for perception-taking; course owners wish to reduce the cost of courses – and MOOCs have entered the marketplace. So now we have “pile ‘em high and sell ‘em cheap” in education but with a difference. It is the students we are piling high and it is the courses we are selling cheap.
In my last blog I detailed the changes that could be made in moving from Didactic teaching to Guided Social Learning. Note that the last step appeared to have moved beyond guided social learning into the realms of personal learning environments but even here, the lifelong learner often needs ‘triggers’ to encourage new knowledge seeking, albeit on their own terms, so the learning is still guided. And, as I have said before, if a company wishes to keep the 80% of learning not undertaken formally in class or online, targeted on company business it needs to guide the learning.
There are quite a few quality marks available for online learning but I haven’t yet seen much evidence of their use; epprobate (mentioned above) particularly looks at courseware and works internationally to build quality in this arena, so they are very interesting to me and we are chatting about quality and courseware. Their site is at http://www.epprobate.com/
epprobate is developing into a modern Community of Practice. It has always had an open culture, giving information and being a part of new thinking about quality in e-learning. It has always welcomed newcomers (that’s how I joined) and is eager to learn as much as teach. epprobate acts as a champion for quality in Courseware but it is also open to supporting quality in e-learning generally and the mix of ideas leads to new ways of approaching quality issues. There are changes happening at epprobate and I for one will be eager to see the results. Whatever they are it will be good for quality in e-learning!
This is the blog of Peter Condon, Learning Architect and Mentor at The Online Learning Development Company, (http://www.toldco.co.uk/)and National Partner with epprobate in the UK and Ireland.(http://epprobate.com/) TOLDCº is focused upon the quality of the learning experience throughout the online learning environment – supporting institution and industry managers, online tutors, authors, technicians and instructional designers in their quest for continual quality improvement.
Don’t worry, we’ve got it covered. Quality of ODL has been a major part of my thinking for many years. More recently I have been reading posts that imply that we have reached the stage where everybody knows about quality and it is just a case of establishing or embedding systems within our organisations. This concerns me but there again, I have often been told that my concerns over quality were silly; ‘don’t worry, we’ve got it covered’. I am not sure whether our learners would agree.
This is the blog of Peter Condon, Learning Architect and Mentor at The Online Learning Development Company, (www.toldco.co.uk). TOLDCº is focussed upon the quality of the learning experience throughout the learning environment – supporting institution and industry managers, online tutors, authors, technicians and instructional designers in their quest to capitalise on the benefits of guided social learning.
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