Improving quality in e-learning – a new toolkit
By Clive Young, on 15 June 2011
Attended the 2nd Annual Quality Assurance and Quality Enhancement in e-Learning conference yesterday which had the intriguing and rather general-purpose title ‘Unsolved problems and unknown issues‘. There were two presentations, one on the variety of e-learning quality initiatives across Europe (such as EFQUEL and SEVAQ+ ), and another on the development of an innovative distance learning graduate programme in law. One of the main lessons was to develop a ‘quality culture‘ in course design and to ensure good communication and quality systems were in place.
The main focus though was a review of the snappily-named QAQE Toolkit for Harnessing Quality Assurance Processes for Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) which has been developed by a HEA special interest group. The toolkit is designed to work alongside existing QA mechanisms and encourage discussion around TEL-specific issues.
The toolkit has three sections Planning and design, Monitoring of implementation and Review and redesign. Each section contains a sensible set of TEL-related questions such as “What are the planned mechanisms for student engagement?” and “Do students possess the necessary digital skills?” together with some suggested actions. Attached to each question are links to good practice, case studies and so on deriving from recent JISC and HEA projects. This is particularly useful and represents a ‘crash course’ in e-learning design.
Several participants had tried out the toolkit and it seemed especially helpful in new-build courses, either for distance or campus-based delivery. One group had developed a so-called ‘Carpe diem’ brainstorming workshop around part of it. Less successful though seemed an attempt to align it to mainstream QA/E processes – the whole question set is quite long and so represents quite a lot of time investment to complete. The authors responded by saying the toolkit was just that, a set of pick-and-mix approaches rather than a wholesale approach.
I felt the toolkit certainly had potential and would be something we should look at in more detail, perhaps using it as part of the support process for developing distance learning courses.