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The moderator of the week Sept. 24-28, is Jan Pawlowski, here acting as a leader of CEN/ISSS Learning Technologies Quality Assessment Workshop.

Towards a European quality assurance standard?

Dear Members of the quality workshop,
I would like to welcome you to the second week of the ETB quality workshop. Many thanks to EUN to provide this opportunity to discuss this controversial topic. I am looking forward to having a fruitful discussion in the next few days.

The goal of this workshop is to identify trends in quality assurance related to e-learning and to determine appropriate standards. The discussion should foucs on different perspectives on quality approaches, including learners, managers, teachers, authors, and content providers in order to find a common understanding of quality needs and requirements.

In a study from 1998 for the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) the following questions were identified as the main issues for research in quality assurance for distance education, particularly for e-learning:

1. What are the existing or emerging strategies for quality assurance of technology-mediated distance learning programs?

2. How can the educational outcomes and experiences offered by these programs and institutions be measured?

3. What specific policies and procedures are required for providing quality assurance of technology-mediated distance learning?

This virtual forum should try to answer some of these questions and give the opportunity to share experiences in this field. But first of all, some background on quality assurance approaches. Quality standards in general can be divided into process and product oriented standards.

  • Process oriented approaches focus on the transparency and consistency of processes leading to a product or service. An example is ISO 9000:2000, ensuring the consisitency of generic processes. Another example is the use of Lifecycle models and procedural models.

  • Product oriented standards ensure the quality of the result of these processes. Usually a the quality of a product is measured using certain criteria, checklists, or similar mechanisms.

  • Additionaly, some approaches define competencies for actors. These approaches assume that approapriately skilled actors lead to results of appropriate quality.

The following questions should be a guideline for the discussion:

1. Can there be a common quality standard for learning environments in the future?
This topic is highly related to the first part of the discussion. Is it possible to define a generic e-learning standard, independent of the domain or a certain community? Will there be specific standards set by communities? What are the requirements for such a standard?

2. Secondly,which are the emerging strategies and related procedures for quality assurance in the field of e-learning?
Should organizations focus on product-oriented, process-oriented, or competency-oriented standards? Which are best-practice cases of quality assurance for e-learning?

3. Thirdly, which areas should be covered by an E-Learning quality standard?
Should an e-learning quality standard cover all areas of learning, including adminstration, delivery, security, ...? Should a standard focus on the appropriate use of technologies? Should didactic concepts be considered?

Author: Riina Vuorikari
Web Editor: Riina Vuorikari
Published: Friday, 21 Sep 2001
Last changed: Tuesday, 9 Oct 2001
Keywords: quality, metadata, standards, etb

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