The EU high-level group on modernisation of higher education publishes its first report today on improving the quality of teaching and learning in universities. The group, chaired by former President of Ireland Mary McAleese, makes 16 recommendations (see Annex 1) which include a call for mandatory certified training for professors and other higher education teaching staff, more focus on helping students to develop entrepreneurial and innovative skills, and the creation of a European Academy of Teaching and Learning.
The high level group will now begin work on the second part of its mission, focused on how to maximise the impact of new methods of delivering quality higher education, such as massive open online courses ('MOOCs'), which enable people to access higher education from their homes. Partners in 11 countries recently launched the first pan-European MOOCs with the support of the European Commission (IP/13/349). The high-level group's next report is due to be published in June 2014.
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.
This free one-day discussion meeting will explore challenges facing the sector in relation to assuring quality whilst also enabling quality enhancement and innovation through technology enhanced learning (TEL). We will be considering the rapid increase in the development of MOOCs (Massive Online open courses) and the impact of the Key Information Set (KIS) requirements on UK Higher Education Institutions.
Over the next few weeks, WCET will publish a series of blog posts on Massively Open Online Courses. This, the first in the series, provides a detailed explanation of how ACE (the American Council on Education) assessed five Coursera courses.
ACE represents the presidents of U.S. accredited, degree-granting institutions, which include two- and four-year colleges, private and public universities, and nonprofit and for-profit entities.
Pat Book, the author of the post, is a Former Assistant Vice President at the American Council on Education, and led the process for assessing the courses.
As an open educator, in the past I have suggested that it is better to have a poor quality resource which is open than a high quality resource which is closed. Similarly, in open teaching, it is better to encourage and embrace ongoing experimentation with the formats associated with the cMOOC pioneers than constrain future innovation in learning to the confines of conventional quality standards.
I’m tempted to suggest that above all MOOCs should hang a sign that declares “abandon all quality measures”, because most of the ones we have developed for formal education don’t apply in MOOCs. We have developed a set of quality measures based on a specific relationship between the education provider and the student. That relationship is fundamentally altered in a MOOC, and so those of existing measures are not applicable. - See more at: http://mooc.efquel.org/week-7-moocs-quality-by-martin-weller/#sthash.bBOwV8Ix.dpuf
Quality assurance in higher education deals with formal education where students follow set courses within a degree programme and where administration, course design, learning outcomes, assessment and examination are well-defined and where quality criteria are clearly defined. However, the growth of open education, in particular the various interpretations of the MOOC concept, has demanded a reassessment of quality when dealing with a highly flexible and less structured learning environment. Can we define quality assurance for the moving target of open education and if so how can universities adapt?
Massive open online courses, or MOOCs, are free, open to all, online higher education courses. They offer higher education study by distance learning, with course information and resources available online.
In response to the growth in popularity and availability of MOOCs, QAA has published a statement that outlines how these courses relate to its review and enhancement activity.
QAA advises providers of higher education to use the Quality Code in developing all aspects of their programme offer, including MOOCs. The Quality Code is designed to be flexible, and its principles apply to all types of higher education provision.
QAA also commits to working with providers that currently offer MOOCs and those that may do so in the future in order to identify and share sound practice in quality assurance and enhancement.
The statement makes it clear that QAA does not currently formally scrutinise MOOCs in review activity, but that providers are welcome to cite any work in developing these courses in evidence provided to QAA as part of a review.
The International Journal for Innovation and Quality and in Learning (INNOQUAL) is dedicating a special issue on “Quality in MOOCs” which will be published in May 2014.
The call for papers is open now, and can be downloaded here.
The editorial board welcomes submissions on the follow aspects:
Conceptional and theoretical considerations on quality development/management for MOOCsEmpirical studies assessing the quality of MOOCs/ large- and medium-scale evaluations of MOOCsEmpirical studies on learner achievements and success (e.g. by metrics or surveys) with diversified view what success constitutes for this new form of online learningEmerging models for quality assessment in MOOCs
During the master class on the role of MOOCs in higher education (23 October 2013), a draft version of the 'OpenupEd label' was launched. The presentation of John Rosewell introducing this label can be viewed here as well as on slideshare. On the 7 November the OpenupEd label was slightly improved and is now under review.
There is a great deal of energy, enthusiasm, and change happening in today’s education sector. Existing and new education providers are leveraging the Internet, ICT infrastructure, digital content, open licensing, social networking, and interaction to create new forms of education. Open Educational Resources (OER) (including open textbooks), Open Access, and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have all gained traction as significant drivers of education innovation. -
Some personal words to begin with When I was asked to participate in this series of blog posts, I said yes immediately, because I considered the idea so creative as a way to bring together people on one subject. Finally, when I sat down to write my contribution, I realized how challenging this task was because of the great contributions that have been posted up to now (thanks to all the other authors for their great ideas! ) At the end it seemed to me as the only way I could deal with the task was to share my very personal perspective on quality in MOOCs. And thanks to the facilitators: this is exactly what they wanted us to do!