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“Quality assurance and accreditation
of Online and Distance Higher
Education”.
EADTU-EU Summit 2017
George Ubachs
EADTU
Survey-approach
• Survey on practices of quality assurance and accreditation in 15
countries supplementing the former CPL study.
• It deals with national frameworks and regulations, institutional
developments in universities, current practices of external quality
assurance for online and distance education, aspects of internal
quality assurance for blended, online and distance education, and
finally practices of accreditation of online and distance education.
• 18 universities responded from Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland,
France, Greece, the Netherlands, Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Israel,
Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom.
• We need in a next step responses/involvement from QA agencies
and Ministries.
2
LEGAL AND REGULATORY
FRAMEWORKS
3
4
Legal frameworks (CPL)
Legal frameworks are largely permissive of the introduction of
digital education in all the eight case study countries, and state
that different forms of education (traditional face-to-face,
blended and distance) are all valid.
5
Accreditation (CPL)
The widespread use across Europe of substantial amounts of
technology in predominantly face-to-face university degree
education has suggested that recognition and accreditation of
such blended education has not posed a major barrier for
universities.
6
European diploma supplement (CPL)
At European level, the European Diploma Supplement (EDS) has
a section (4.1) for teaching formats, including e-learning and
distance, so that it too can accommodate, and record, a variety
of modes of teaching and learning.
7
No revisions of accreditation processes
There is very limited evidence that suggests there have been
substantial revisions to university accreditation processes.
It is likely that many universities had to think carefully about
how they ensured that the quality of their provision would
remain at a high level whilst introducing technology, and clearly
uncertainty about how to do this still exists for some, perhaps
to a degree, all (Ingolfsdottir, 2014; Mapstone et al, 2014).
8
INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL QUALITY
ASSURANCE
9
10
11
Internal approval processes require internal
understanding of what quality means in new
forms of education, and external approval
processes require the same of external
reviewers.
Being able to assess what is to be assessed in
innovating education, you need to speak the
same language and work with the same criteria
and indicators.
12
24 January 2017 George Ubachs, EADTU 13
“Digital expert centres“ (CPL)
Many, if not most, universities in Europe have “digital
education expert centers” (their names vary greatly).
Seventeen of the 19 case study universities have them,
as did 75% of universities in the EUA survey (Gaebel,
2014).
The professional staff and academic staff in these
centers are usually very active in national and
international digital education communities and thus
can draw on and share experiences related to quality
issues.
14
Virtual universities transferring expertise (CPL)
Similarly, where virtual universities have been
established (e.g. Bavaria and Ruhr VUs in Germany;
Finland, Lithuania, Norway) these have provided a
quality assured locus for teacher experience and
training.
15
Quality assurance agencies
Quality assurance agencies, whose role is to assess
quality in the learning and teaching business also need
at least some of this expertise, which they might best
obtain by also having such staff in-house.
This was proposed by the Dutch QA agency, NVAO, at
the ENQA conference in Zagreb (Flierman, 2014)
16
Quality assurance agencies (CPL)
The 2014 EUA study showed that only a quarter of QA
agencies gave special consideration to digital education
(Gaebel M, 2014). No clear metrics for evaluating
quality increases were offered to our case study
universities.
17
Shift to institutional evaluations(CPL)
The quality assurance process is operated by the higher
education institutions themselves (internal quality
assurance) and is evaluated and recognised by the
quality assurance agencies (external quality assurance).
Increasingly, there is a shift in national quality
assurance systems of responsibilities from the
agencies towards the higher education institutions,
and from individual degrees to institutional
evaluations (“quality audit”).
18
24 January 2017 George Ubachs, EADTU 19
24 January 2017 George Ubachs, EADTU 20
RECOMMENDATIONS
21
Recommendations
At governmental level:
• National governments should review their legislative
and regulatory frameworks and practices for quality
assurance and accreditation in higher education
(including recognition of prior learning) to ensure that
they encourage, and do not impede, the provision of
more flexible educational formats, including degrees
and other ECTS-bearing courses that are fully online.
• Policies and processes should support and promote
innovation in pedagogies and greater use of
technology, and a vision for change should be expressed
through national strategies.
22
Recommendations
At QA-agency level:
• National QA agencies can benefit from developing their own
in-house expertise and establish processes that are
sufficiently flexible to include recognising and supporting
new modes of teaching and learning. As such they can
evaluate institutions on their active support of innovation
and its impact on the quality of teaching and learning.
• ENQA and other relevant European networks are important
key players in this field and can support the sharing of good
practice by national QA agencies in the development of
criteria on the recognition of new modes of teaching and
learning.
23
Recommendations
QA agencies and universities:
• Building on the strong existing base of digital
education, a European and national metrics should be
established to record the typologies and extent of
online, blended, and open education at institutional and
national levels. This would enable institutions to
compare themselves with others and to monitor their
own progress.
• Setting up a structure of dialogue between QA agencies,
Universities and governments. A Peer Learning Activity.
24
24 January 2017 George Ubachs, EADTU 25
Thank you!
George Ubachs
george.ubachs@eadtu.eu
27

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Quality assurance and accreditation of Online and Distance Higher Education (EADTU-EU Summit 2017)

  • 1. “Quality assurance and accreditation of Online and Distance Higher Education”. EADTU-EU Summit 2017 George Ubachs EADTU
  • 2. Survey-approach • Survey on practices of quality assurance and accreditation in 15 countries supplementing the former CPL study. • It deals with national frameworks and regulations, institutional developments in universities, current practices of external quality assurance for online and distance education, aspects of internal quality assurance for blended, online and distance education, and finally practices of accreditation of online and distance education. • 18 universities responded from Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, the Netherlands, Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Israel, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom. • We need in a next step responses/involvement from QA agencies and Ministries. 2
  • 4. 4
  • 5. Legal frameworks (CPL) Legal frameworks are largely permissive of the introduction of digital education in all the eight case study countries, and state that different forms of education (traditional face-to-face, blended and distance) are all valid. 5
  • 6. Accreditation (CPL) The widespread use across Europe of substantial amounts of technology in predominantly face-to-face university degree education has suggested that recognition and accreditation of such blended education has not posed a major barrier for universities. 6
  • 7. European diploma supplement (CPL) At European level, the European Diploma Supplement (EDS) has a section (4.1) for teaching formats, including e-learning and distance, so that it too can accommodate, and record, a variety of modes of teaching and learning. 7
  • 8. No revisions of accreditation processes There is very limited evidence that suggests there have been substantial revisions to university accreditation processes. It is likely that many universities had to think carefully about how they ensured that the quality of their provision would remain at a high level whilst introducing technology, and clearly uncertainty about how to do this still exists for some, perhaps to a degree, all (Ingolfsdottir, 2014; Mapstone et al, 2014). 8
  • 9. INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL QUALITY ASSURANCE 9
  • 10. 10
  • 11. 11
  • 12. Internal approval processes require internal understanding of what quality means in new forms of education, and external approval processes require the same of external reviewers. Being able to assess what is to be assessed in innovating education, you need to speak the same language and work with the same criteria and indicators. 12
  • 13. 24 January 2017 George Ubachs, EADTU 13
  • 14. “Digital expert centres“ (CPL) Many, if not most, universities in Europe have “digital education expert centers” (their names vary greatly). Seventeen of the 19 case study universities have them, as did 75% of universities in the EUA survey (Gaebel, 2014). The professional staff and academic staff in these centers are usually very active in national and international digital education communities and thus can draw on and share experiences related to quality issues. 14
  • 15. Virtual universities transferring expertise (CPL) Similarly, where virtual universities have been established (e.g. Bavaria and Ruhr VUs in Germany; Finland, Lithuania, Norway) these have provided a quality assured locus for teacher experience and training. 15
  • 16. Quality assurance agencies Quality assurance agencies, whose role is to assess quality in the learning and teaching business also need at least some of this expertise, which they might best obtain by also having such staff in-house. This was proposed by the Dutch QA agency, NVAO, at the ENQA conference in Zagreb (Flierman, 2014) 16
  • 17. Quality assurance agencies (CPL) The 2014 EUA study showed that only a quarter of QA agencies gave special consideration to digital education (Gaebel M, 2014). No clear metrics for evaluating quality increases were offered to our case study universities. 17
  • 18. Shift to institutional evaluations(CPL) The quality assurance process is operated by the higher education institutions themselves (internal quality assurance) and is evaluated and recognised by the quality assurance agencies (external quality assurance). Increasingly, there is a shift in national quality assurance systems of responsibilities from the agencies towards the higher education institutions, and from individual degrees to institutional evaluations (“quality audit”). 18
  • 19. 24 January 2017 George Ubachs, EADTU 19
  • 20. 24 January 2017 George Ubachs, EADTU 20
  • 22. Recommendations At governmental level: • National governments should review their legislative and regulatory frameworks and practices for quality assurance and accreditation in higher education (including recognition of prior learning) to ensure that they encourage, and do not impede, the provision of more flexible educational formats, including degrees and other ECTS-bearing courses that are fully online. • Policies and processes should support and promote innovation in pedagogies and greater use of technology, and a vision for change should be expressed through national strategies. 22
  • 23. Recommendations At QA-agency level: • National QA agencies can benefit from developing their own in-house expertise and establish processes that are sufficiently flexible to include recognising and supporting new modes of teaching and learning. As such they can evaluate institutions on their active support of innovation and its impact on the quality of teaching and learning. • ENQA and other relevant European networks are important key players in this field and can support the sharing of good practice by national QA agencies in the development of criteria on the recognition of new modes of teaching and learning. 23
  • 24. Recommendations QA agencies and universities: • Building on the strong existing base of digital education, a European and national metrics should be established to record the typologies and extent of online, blended, and open education at institutional and national levels. This would enable institutions to compare themselves with others and to monitor their own progress. • Setting up a structure of dialogue between QA agencies, Universities and governments. A Peer Learning Activity. 24
  • 25. 24 January 2017 George Ubachs, EADTU 25
  • 26.

Editor's Notes

  1. Good afternoon. We had already some interesting sessions on new innovations in education. We see that all are challenged by new modes of teaching, Gov. QA and univ. It is however important that related stakeholders all anticipate in alignement to each other to get to optimally further develop. Already we did a few years go a study on CPL in 8 countries. From this study several recommendations were published covering Gov., QA, and univ. We actually are extending this with a trendreport of which currently interviews are running.
  2. In the meantime EADTU received concerns by our members on accreditation and QA of online and open education. So we have started a short survey amongst our members with a focus on: -national frameworks and regulations -institutional developments -current practices by QA agencies -involvement and dialogue with QA agencies So, this presentation is a combination of CPL and the recent survey we did.
  3. I will show a few slides marking the most representative results. Here you see that 50% of the respondents have indicated that no specific legislation or regulation is referring to online and distance education. That also means there is in half the cases no specific policy or strategy in place to support innovation in education in this respect. What does that mean for the position of online education? Actually for most countries this does not seem to be a problem. (Next slide)
  4. Also, at European level the EDS refers to DE and e-learning. So, although the regulations and legal frameworks do not explicitely refer to online education, they show in practice sufficient flexibility for including them.
  5. On the other hand, it can also be that in innovating education, most universities have considered the legal and regulatory frameworks and operate within what is allowed and rcognised. Does this hamper further innovation?
  6. Coming back to the survey, we had a question on the use of criteria. Typical face to face indicators? Clearly 2/3 indicated to have only these.
  7. And then of course the question on use of specific online indicators was the direct opposit result.
  8. Being able to assess what is to be assessed, you need to speak the same language and work with the same criteria and indicators. For the visiting QA agency it is important to be well informed on the latest developments in innovating education or bring experts. The dialogue of universities and QA agencies seems to be vital: -not only to cover for missing references in the legal and regulatory frameworks as well as the criteria and indicators of assessment. -also in further developing QA in online education and innovating education for the years to come. Only by mutual understanding of new processes and stretching criteria in the qa systems we find space for further innovation and quality improvement.
  9. Re-assuring is however that also here flexibility is sought in the dialogue of the assessment pannels with the universities. So, QA agencies bring in almost half of the cases an expert with them on online education.
  10. Experttise within the universities is covered by inhouse expertise centres. Often, these centres are the right place to value the pioneers and enthusiasts within a university and make them share their expertise with others.
  11. Expertise needed for this is often concentrated in e-learning expertise centres within the universities.
  12. Also, QA agencies would need to have (access to) this expertise. This was already recognised by the NVAO some years ago and currently agencies are working on this. They are however differently orgnised than universities and need to use other ways of expertise building. -Hiring experts, -training of own staff and -sharing expertise at European level.
  13. Also, EUA showed this need in their report in 2014 and added the option of a metrics for evaluating quality enhancements. So, building a benchmarking reference system for universities to compare their developments and see were they can improve. A kind of reference / maturity model. Currently ENQA is very active in this field and installed a WG e-learning. EADTU hopes to be able to work on a maturity model inblended education.
  14. Interesting in this respect is the shift of focus by QA agencies towards a more institutional evaluation that actually offers an opportunity to look into institutional change models. So, looking into innovation supporting the quality enhancement of education. Looking into staff and student support, research done in this field etc.
  15. Also, the innovation of an institution as such is mostly covered. Focus here is often on the uptake of new modes of teaching.
  16. We see that QA agencies already very much look into the necessary support for CPD of staff members incl. the change to new pedagogies and new modes of teaching. Already, this is well covered by the QA agencies.
  17. Now, to close my presentation here a selection of most relevant recommendations.
  18. EADTU is the European Association of leading universities in OOF-HE E-xcellence is one of the services EADTU is offering in the uptake of new modes of teaching,. E-xcellence is an instrument for enhancing the e-learning performance of a university and a guideline for universities in transition to online and blended education. It focusses on improvement of accessibility, flexibility,.. Developed and updated over the past decade by partners EUA, NVAO, ENQA… by team of expert reviewers. Standards->benchmarks. Benefit of benchmarks: Why benchmarking? The system of benchmarking includes: Self-assessment/self-critical as a bases for self-improvement Using peer reviewers as reference and input for improvement *In a collaborative process of dialogue we create an environment of learning from each other *In a process of comparing the university’s’ performance with best practices in the field of e-learning we identify weaknesses and strengths Setting a roadmap for improvement Next slide