For ODL to be successful and credible, and for learners to gain maximum benefit from it, it must be recognised as delivering consistently high-standard teaching and learning. That requires quality assurance (QA) and policies that lay out the standards to which an institution will adhere. This volume reflects the passion and expertise of a diverse range of people from different contexts, each of whom brought a unique perspective to the project. It expands COL’s repertoire of QA publications by adding the Open Schooling dimension. We hope that it will contribute substantially to enriching the quality of teaching and learning for the hundreds of thousands of current and potential learners throughout the Commonwealth.
Many of the programs now offered outside of traditional higher education are of high quality and many earn learners access to new knowledge, new skills, and new opportunities. Some, however, are not. That’s not the problem, though. The problem is that we have few tools to differentiate the high-quality programs from the poor-quality ones. The normal mechanism we use to assess quality in higher education, accreditation, was not built to assess these kinds of providers. Moreover, even if they were, even the best programs and those serving low-income students would not, under current rules, be certified to receive federal financial aid because they are “programs” or “courses,” and not “institutions.”
The U.S. Department of Education (ED) is interested in accelerating and focusing the ongoing conversations about what quality assurance might look like in the era of rapidly expanding educational options that are not traditional institutions of higher education. We are particularly interested in thinking about quality assurance through the lens of measurable student outcomes and competencies. We have no stake in supporting one or another specific set of learning outcomes. Rather, we are interested in the fact that outcomes matter and ought to be the centerpiece of any kind of quality assurance. Outcomes, in this vision of the future, are clear claims for student learning, move beyond mere statements of knowledge to what students can do with that knowledge, and are measurable.
The main phases of online course development cycle, in majority of instructional design models, follow ADDIE model. In the framework presented here, the course development happens in five Phases including Planning, Design/Development, Production, Implementation, and Evaluation (PDPIE). In each phase basic steps are illustrated and key/promising elements and required documents for a quality course are shared. The goals of this resource are to assist you to:
* Build on your current instructional design skills/strategies and learn about online course development cycle.
* Improve the quality of your online course.
* Investigate and identify various effective promising practices and checklists for online course development and delivery.
This literature review presents a number of different perspectives from a broad range of sources relating to the nature of MOOCs and considerations of quality.
It is an output from the recently established QAA MOOCs Network, which is designed to facilitate the sharing of experiences, knowledge and good practice in this area. More information about the Network is available through our MOOCs Network LinkedIn group, or via Twitter #MOOCsNetwork.
As online, competency-based learning gains steam in higher education, a critical question is emerging. If the federal government will fund competency-based programs through Title IV dollars, how should it think about regulating these programs?
Whenever a disruptive innovation emerges—and online, competency-based learning deployed in the right business model is a disruptive innovation—it doesn’t look as good as existing services according to the old metrics of performance. Disruptions tend to be simpler than existing services; they start by solving undemanding problems. As a result, the sector’s leading organizations often dismiss them because they don’t look terribly good in comparison to the way people have traditionally thought of quality. But they also redefine the notion of what is quality and performance. As such, they don’t fit neatly into existing regulatory structures and often create new ones over time. Judging them by the old regulations can also limit their innovative potential by trapping and confining them to replicate parts of the existing value propositions of the old system rather than deliver on their new value proposition.
For online, competency-based programs, the old metrics are those focused on inputs. These new programs often lack breadth, generally do not do academic research, and they don’t have grassy green quads and traditional libraries. Assessing them based on these criteria along with specifying their faculty members’ academic credentials and course requirements doesn’t make much sense, nor do one-size-fits-all regulations that govern how students interact with faculty online, especially given that more interaction in online courses isn’t always better for students. Regulations limiting the geography in which approved programs can serve students are counter-productive as well for a medium that knows no geographic boundaries.
Location: San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter, 101 Bowie Street, San Antonio,
The 7th Annual QM Conference features inspired discussions and the sharing of best practices. The QM community collaborates to shape education's future. This conference is a place to learn, connect, and share. Together, we are continuously improving experiences for learners.
Here's a sneak peek at what's in store for this year's event. We'll add presentation sessions, pre-conference workshops, and other information here in the months leading up to the conference; please check back for updates. You can also sign up for e-mail communications related to the conference.
The funding bodies for higher education in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, as part of their statutory responsibilities, are consulting on a new approach to quality assessment to meet the future needs of students, employers and the sector.
The consultation sets out proposals for a quality assessment system that secures an excellent student academic experience and maintains confidence in degree standards. The proposals recognise the increasing diversity and dynamism of the sector, uphold its outstanding international reputation, and seek to foster excellence and innovation in learning and teaching in the particular context of individual universities and colleges.
The consultation marks the second stage of a review of quality assessment which began earlier this year with a wide-ranging discussion with the sector and other stakeholders.
The proposals build on three key elements of arrangements already in place:
A shift from process-driven assurance to analysis of student academic outcomes. A number of respondents to the first phase of the review wished to see this shift. It builds on existing institutional activity to drive excellence and innovation in learning and teaching in the context of an institution’s own mission, location and modes of delivery, and the nature of their student body.
Strengthening the existing external examining system to protect the integrity of academic standards. There was strong support in the first phase of the review for the external examining system, but recognition of the need for further modernisation and professionalisation.
An enhanced role for universities’ and colleges’ own assurance systems. Governing bodies would confirm that their senates or academic boards were reviewing the quality of their students’ academic experience and (for institutions with degree awarding powers) academic output standards, and provide assurance that there were appropriate action plans in place where necessary.
The QAA Annual Conference 2015 took place at New Dock Hall and The Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds on Thursday 11 June. This Conference provided an unique opportunity for quality professionals from QAA subscribing institutions to discuss current issues and strategy relating to the development of quality assurance policy and practice, and to work with colleagues from across the sector to discuss practical solutions and share good practice.
Harvey Mellar's insight:
This site contains links to the conference resources and presentations.
Hosted by the Quality Assurance Agency / UCL Institute of Education, London, United Kingdom
19-21 November 2015
The European Quality Assurance Forum (EQAF) provides a unique platform for the higher education and quality assurance (QA) communities to monitor, shape and anticipate developments in the field. The main purpose of the Forum is to foster a dialogue on QA that bridges national boundaries and leads to a truly European discussion on QA in higher education, and to create a common European understanding of QA through discussions and networking among different stakeholder groups.
The project is based on the expertise of the Grundtvig Learning Partnership 2009-1-IT2-GRU06-06438. Blended Learning (bLearning) was recognized as a teaching method of high potentials.
Contrary to the widely approved e-Learning, which is scientifically documented and indicated certain standards of quality, bLearning is self-explanatory, while it is one of the main issues in various case studies. Nevertheless, ther are barely precise quality standards so far. This is our main goal; to define and set quality standards as well as tools to evaluate the quality of bLearning.
Higher education must be protected by quality assurance that embraces all parts of the UK, is internationally recognised, fully co-regulated and able to align with national priorities including the developing Teaching Excellence Framework in England.
This is the view of the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA), which today publishes its response (PDF, 448KB) to the Quality Assessment Review being carried out by the higher education funding bodies of England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Alongside its consultation response, QAA has published its own thinking and ideas for a strong system that protects student interests while being much more tailored, proportionate and responsive to the needs of providers.
QAA Chief Executive Anthony McClaran said: 'UK higher education enjoys an excellent international reputation, enhanced by independent external review of universities and colleges by academics and students. We must take care not to lose that expertise as quality assessment is reformed.'
'Together, we need to hold on to those elements of our current system that work. We should leave behind those that, collectively, we agree are not serving us well. Above all, we must be prepared to adopt new approaches and innovate.'
'We need quality checks and balances that are fit for the future, proportionate and flexible, protecting the interests of students wherever and however they study.'
Ian Kimber, QAA's Director of Quality Development, said: ‘Our proposals reflect the increasing consensus that we cannot have two systems in England developed in isolation. We must bring together and align the best of the Quality Assessment Review proposals and the sector's ideas for change with the ambitions of the Teaching Excellence Framework.’
The national organisation Flexible Education Norway (FuN) has developed separate norms for quality assurance of web-based training programmes. These norms refer to, for example, quality management and quality development at the institutional level, issues pertaining to development of study programmes, and implementation of these studies, including tuition and assessment. To make these norms tangible and transform them into action, FuN is currently in the process of developing a quality manual for designers and teachers of web-based studies.
The handbook is designed to provide guidance and information on the impact of e-learning and other aspects of application of ICT in higher education on the design and its integration within insitutional and national of quality assurance processes. It distills information and experience of the operation of the e-learning quality assurance labels designed by the project partners and the outcomes of discussions and surveys conducted with institutions and agencies during the project that are presented in greater detail in the accompanying case study documents. These studies have indicated that there has been significant progress at institutional level in the development and adaptation of their quality systems but that there is limited evidence of specific processes or requirements being defined within national quality assurance systems.
Universities face having to navigate two quality frameworks as Jo Johnson makes teaching excellence framework a priority amid Hefce reforms
Introducing a teaching excellence framework alongside a new quality assurance method may create a dual system of quality checks and audits, senior sector figures have warned.
In his first major policy speech as universities and science minister, Jo Johnson said that his priority is to “make sure students get the teaching they deserve…by introducing the teaching excellence framework we promised in our manifesto”.
However, it remains unclear how plans for the TEF will fit with proposed changes to the quality assurance landscape unveiled by the Higher Education Funding Council for England on 29 June.
Under these proposals, universities will no longer face regular institutional reviews from the Quality Assurance Agency every six years – with governing bodies instead required to vouch for academic standards, while Hefce monitors trends in student outcomes, such as student satisfaction scores.
On 10 June 2015, the Flemish Parliament discussed and approved a law amending the Codex Higher Education thus revising the system of quality assurance and accreditation in higher education. The approved law transforms the system of quality assurance in Flemish higher education.
In the previous system of quality assurance, each programme was assessed and accredited regularly. By now, all programmes have been externally assessed several times over the last three decades (some programmes even six times) and the enhancement perspective that was originally a strong element of the system, lost its vigour. Programme accreditation also brought about a substantial administrative and financial burden and these no longer outweighed the potential benefits.
The revised system of quality assurance is based on trust and autonomy and places the responsibility for ensuring and enhancing the quality of education more fully in the hands of the institutions. Universities and university colleges (18 in total) can now request to be assessed at the level of the institution and this assessment includes a review of the way institutions ensure quality at programme level.
ENQA will organise a conference on QA of cross-border higher education on 5-6 November 2015 in Paris, France, hosted by ENQA’s member agency the High Council for the Evaluation of Research and Higher Education (HCERES).
The event targets quality assurance and higher education professionals from Europe and other regions and will discuss the most current issues on the rapidly expanding phenomenon of cross-border higher education and its quality assurance. The event is the final conference of the Erasmus Mundus-supported, ENQA-led project “Quality Assurance of Cross-Border Higher Education (QACHE)“.
The 6th ENQA General Assembly will take place at the Dublin Castle Conference Center in Dublin, Ireland, on 22-23 October 2015 and will be hosted by Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI).
The themes of the GA Seminar, which will take place on the first day of the meeting, include the outcomes of the “Quality Assurance of Cross-border Higher Education” (QACHE) project, trends in quality assurance in the USA, and understanding the revised ESG as ENQA membership criteria. The second day, reserved for members and affiliates only, will be dedicated to formal organisational and administrative proceedings.
Paul Bacsich, with assistance from George Ubachs, Giles Pepler, Keith Williams
This report was originally Appendices A, C and R to Deliverable 2.2 within Workpackage 2 of the SEQUENT project. The aim of WP2 was to gather examples of good implementation of QA in educational institutions.
The SEQUENT project aimed to promote excellence in the use of ICT in higher education, with a clear goal to prepare European Universities in line with the European Modernisation Agenda and to make higher education in Europe fit better to cross-border collaboration initiatives in the implementation of innovative and ICT-enhanced partnerships. To this end, the project based itself on models that had been developed by previous EU-funded projects and other internationally recognised models that enhance the quality of ICT in higher education. The project raised awareness within the European higher education community on the importance of a mainstreamed ICT uptake through project events and the partners large memberships.
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