Quality Assurance and e-Learning


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A presentation about quality assurance for e-learning. Does e-learning pose new challenges? Existing quality frameworks suffice for instrumental implementations of e-learning, that aim to add or substitute functionalities; they do not for transformative e-learning that seeks to explore new forms of learning. CC, attribution, share alike

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Quality Assurance and e-Learning

  1. 1. Does traditional e-learning still fit the knowledge society? Quality issues Prof. Peter B. Sloep Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies, Open University of the Netherlands UNESCO Conference, Den Haag, July 3, 2009 Thursday, July 2, 2009
  2. 2. Overview • Quality • Quality in e-learning • Challenges • Theses Thursday, July 2, 2009
  3. 3. Quality some assumptions Thursday, July 2, 2009
  4. 4. Quality assurance • ... it is about transactions between learners and educational institutions, social contract • ... it is about allowing learners and public bodies to understand and assess the quality of educational offerings • ... twist in the present context, across nations, cultures, educational systems, etc. Thursday, July 2, 2009
  5. 5. Limits to what can be achieved • Understanding is context-bound - incommensurability (Kuhn) - metaphors (Lakoff and Johnson) • Standardisation (uniformity) doesn’t help - We don’t (and shouldn’t) want it - irreducible role of cultural differences Thursday, July 2, 2009
  6. 6. What can be done • Do not aim for interoperability of the objects of quality assurance (EQF?) • Aim for quality assurance at meta-level, of the processes and procedures involved (cf. UNESCO Guidelines, Paris 2005). • Even here limits apply, but less severely so. Thursday, July 2, 2009
  7. 7. Quality and e-learning Thursday, July 2, 2009
  8. 8. Two views of e-learning as an innovation • Instrumentalist: technology is ‘just a tool’ you can use it or ignore it, nothing substantial changes • Transformative: technology is a cultural driver, it has effects beyond the intended ones (Bijker: interpretative flexibility of artefacts) Thursday, July 2, 2009
  9. 9. Instrumentalist view of e-learning • Sticks to formal learning paradigm • Leads to substitution of or addition to existing technologies and practices • Does not affect organisation structures, teachers remain ‘sages on the stage’, even if it is a virtual stage Thursday, July 2, 2009
  10. 10. Examples (1) • e-mail, fora, bulletin boards as additional communication channels with students • instant messaging, chat as office hours • downloadable presentation slides and lecture notes (VLE, iTunesU, MIT) • virtual classrooms in lieu of real ones (universities build presence in 2nd Life) Thursday, July 2, 2009
  11. 11. Examples (2) • reflection blogs in teacher training (Wopereis) • synchronous coaching with earpiece (Hooreman) • gps-enhanced phones to prompt assignments (Stohr) Thursday, July 2, 2009
  12. 12. Transformative view of e-learning • Considers other learning paradigms such as informal, non-formal, lifelong learning • Leads to unintended and unexpected, ‘weird’ uses of existing technologies or fully new ones Thursday, July 2, 2009
  13. 13. Example Learning Network • NB: R&D project, no instantiations yet • LN= online, topic-bound, social network DF designed to foster non-formal learning • Meant to address the needs and wants of the knowledge society • Meant to merge the worlds of learning and working, of learners and professionals Thursday, July 2, 2009
  14. 14. • Upsets traditional university organisation, from one to several service providers, of content (OER), tutoring, assessment (APL, ACL), certification, advice on learning trajectories • Uses a different business model; pay per service and service level; allow advertisements, allow anonymous use of personal data; etc. Thursday, July 2, 2009
  15. 15. Conclusion • Quality control takes a different shape in either case • For instrumental e-learning: use existing as benchmark. Check if substitute is adequate, if addition is useful • For transformative e-learning: new benchmarks for success are needed Thursday, July 2, 2009
  16. 16. Challenges for quality in e-learning Thursday, July 2, 2009
  17. 17. Students, professionals instrumental view transformative view • Do not differentiate • To what extent does a between e-learning LN help students & and ordinary learning professionals fulfill • e-tools are part and their ambitions? parcel of learning • Does it help meet the environment needs and wants of the knowledge society? Thursday, July 2, 2009
  18. 18. (Networks of) Universities instrumental view transformative view • nothing new, existing • Anticipate on service arrangements suffice provider role of universities in knowledge society • join forces • quality is a traditional strength of universities, keep it Thursday, July 2, 2009
  19. 19. Good practices instrumental view transformative view • cf. existing • none for LNs really specifications ISO • somewhat: ISO TC JTC1 SC36 on Quality 232 Learning Services Management and for Non-formal Assurance Metrics Learning and Training • CEN/ISSS WS LT, IMS Global, IEEE Thursday, July 2, 2009
  20. 20. Theses Thursday, July 2, 2009
  21. 21. 1. Process-oriented quality control is useful for cross-cultural quality assessment, but only to a limited extent (it lacks focus on substance) 2. Substance oriented quality control across cultures is hardly possible (incommensurability etc.) Thursday, July 2, 2009
  22. 22. 3. When discussing quality issues in relation to e-learning practices, no additional measures are needed to cope with instrumental e-learning practices other than to differentiate between substitution and addition 4. When the discussion concerns transform- ative e-learning practices, like Learning Networks, no frameworks exist yet Thursday, July 2, 2009
  23. 23. 5. In either case, UNESCO should stay on top of quality control, to create a level playing field and to help avert the danger of a digital divide between cultures, regions 6. UNESCO should participate in ISO JTC1 SC 36 and TC 232 (if allowed) Thursday, July 2, 2009
  24. 24. Questions or more info peter.sloep <at> ou.nl http://pbsloep.nl http://celstec.org http://dspace.ou.nl Thursday, July 2, 2009