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Even if the question of eLearning quality has been intensely discussed in the recent years, with several approaches and models arising, the implementation of concepts into practices remains contested (Elhers & Hilera, 2012 ) . Higher Education Institutions (HEI) are facing an important change:from the single institutional efforts to give answer to a very changing society and labour market to the transnational debates and pressure for HEI modernization, like the case of Bologna Process.In this context, eLearning is given different importance with regard to organizational innovation and the general HEI culture of quality (Ehlers & Schneckenberg, 2010). While it has been envisaged as the panacea to promote improvements in such different dimensions as cost-benefit ratio, access and inclusiveness, or the introduction of learner centered pedagogical approaches, very often the values and motivations entrenched in these dimensions clash and enter in more or less evident contradictions. As a result, the implementation of quality eLearning in HEI could be slowed down or blocked (Conole, Smith, & White, A critique of the impact of policy and funding, 2007).
In this article the authors introduce the results of an initial exploratory phase undertaken as part of a participatory action research funded by the Italian Ministry of Education PRIN (Research Project of National Interest, “Progetto di Ricerca d’Interesse Nazionale”) namely, “Evaluation for the improvement of educational contexts. A research involving University and local communities in the participatory development of innovative assessment models”.
On the basis of a qualitative epistemological approach (Creswell, 2007) (Denzin & Lincoln, 2011), several stakeholders from one University were interviewed, attempting to capture the several discourses on quality in HE and the embedded idea of quality eLearning . The results obtained were later conceptualized attempting to define quality as a complex object that requires mediation for the negotiation of the several perspectives.