Quality in TEL on Macro-, Meso,- and Micro Level
Quality in Technology Enabeld Learning (TEL) is more than ever a hot topic, not at least because of the transformation of learning and education in the digital era, and the move toward Open, Online, Flexible Learning and TEL (OOFAT). Quality in TEL, can be discussed and measured from a vareity of perspectives and approaches. First, quality has to be considered at different levels, i.e. meso,- miso,- and macro level. Second, there are a huge variety of stakeholders whohave an interest in quality. Third, there are different approaches, as normbased versus processbased quality assurance and /or quality enhancement. Fourth, the maturity level has to be taken into consideration. Fifth, and last, or maybe even as a first issue:
QUALITY IS ALWAYS TIME, CONTEXT, AND CULTURE DEPENDENT, AND
QUALITY IS ALWAYS IN THE EYES OF THE BEHOLDER
The EDEN Special Interst Group (SIG ) on TEL and Quality Enhancement (QE), had a workshop at the Annuaal EDEN Conference in Jönköping Sweden 13-16 June 2017, where TEL and quality isseus were diiscussed and facilitated in a workshop by Ebba Ossiannilsson,SE. The topic was also presented at a webinar (21st November 2017) hosted by the EDEN Special Interst Group (SIG ) on TEL and Quality Enhancement (QE). The facilitators were Ebba Ossiannilsson, EDEN EC, The Swedish Association for Distance Education, Sweden, Mark Nichols, EDEN EC, Open University, United Kingdom, and Airina Volungeviciene, EDEN President, Vytautas Magnus University, Lithuania.
The three different levels:
As the concept quality is complex and with a variety of stakeholders quality in e-learning can, according to Nordkvelle, Fossland & Nettleland (2013), be reviewed from three levels, e.g. macro, meso and micro level. The three levels can in short be described as macro level meaning national/global general dimensions, meso level refers to institutional matters, and finally, micro level refers to the course/module as such. Hence, when deciding to enhance or review quality in e-learning in Higher Education selection of quality model or quality systems to use, will be influenced by the level and aim of the review (Ossiannilsson et al., 2015).
The macro level refers to the entire institution, not only its strategy and mission but also its infrastructure, allocation of resources (costs and time), incentives, and support for students and staff. The meso level refers to the department or faculty, and the same issues need to be considered. Finally, the micro level refers to course offerings, such as curricula, course structure and design, assessment, learning outcomes, and method of delivery (Kirkwood & Price, 2016; Ossiannilsson, 2012; Ossiannilsson et al., 2015). In most recognized international quality models, following three areas, and the six dimensions are concidered, which was revield in the studyies by Ossiannilsson, 2012, and Ossiannilsson et al., 2015.
Image: Ossiannilsson (2012), and Ossiannilsson et al., (2015)
Several stakeholders have an interest in quality. Most often the stakeholders are considered as the learners, the academics, the institution, faculty, region, and even on country level or international level.
Normbased vs Processbased
There are different approaches, as accreditation, certification, benchmarking, and or guidelines or frame of references, where Accredition is most towards normbased quality assurance, benchmarking, guidelines and or frame of references, ar more proecessbased, while certification is in between. Accreditation is a formal process of recognition or licensing operated by or on behalf of a regulating agency. Certification is a process of recognition by a non-statutory organisation such as a grouping of universities or membership organisation (Ossiannilsson et al., 2015)..
In addition, maturity level has to be taken into consideration, and also if quality is considered as norm based or process based.
In conclusion it s obvious that TEL and QE is very important in the era of ubiquitous learning and OOFAT, and that there are needs to take an holistic approach, as there are diifferent levels, a variety of stakeholders, different purposed and desired outcomes, and also hte institutions maturity level. However, there are different quality models to consider and to be inspried of, and at least to start to carry out selfevaluations, and benchmarking, or to consider some frame of references, to get a map to mirrow gaps and strengths for quality enhancement, and to get started to cultivate a quality of culture. An example of research reviewed mdels are to be found in the report Quality models in open, online education around teh globe. State of the art Ossiannilsson et al., (2015).