Planning and Developing Open and Distance Learning: A Framework for Quality
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Institutions should work closely with professional bodies in the development of online professional communities EADTU, The course should be developed by a faculty team with a peer review. Course design, development and evaluation should involve individual or team with expertise in both academic and technical aspects EADTU, Responsibilities of different staff groups teachers, tutors, etc.
A document of responsibilities of each intervenient should be produced expertise on the subject, e-tutor, technical support, quality assurance manager, etc. Procedures for staff profile should be established and selection should be based on those competences. They should reflect the level of performance students will achieve in a measurable form and should be related to the course program EFQUEL, The institution should have a clear policy regarding the acquisition and assessment of core transferable skills, including e-skills.
Beyond global learning outcomes it is also important consider the soft skills that refer to a transversal objectives such as:. E-learning provider should maintain and demonstrate a strong commitment to educational value.
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The provider should conduct all promotion activities in a fair and ethical manner, following the best practices and legislation. All promotional materials should give clear and accurate information. All enquiries from potential applicants should be handled promptly and appropriately, avoiding mis-selling ODLQC, Institutional policies, services and resources should be clearly stated. Students should be provided on how to access them QM, The institution should have a credit transfer policy aligned with national system credit EADTU, The evaluation system should be able to measure to what extent informal learning meets the expected objectives and outcomes.
A system for allowing credit transfer from informal to the formal settings should be foreseen. A process which helps learners reflect on the transferability of their acquired competences and skills to their specific context of use should be in place. It is important to have a documented process to manage complaints.
A person responsible for dealing with learners' complaints related to the programme, assessment, tutoring should be identified EFQUEL, Enrolment when completed should be confirmed to the learner. A documented confirmation of outcomes should be available where students finish the course ODLQC, The administrative impact of e-learning and b-learning systems on the workloads of all staff groups should be assessed and adjustments made as required EADTU, The potential students should have all information available online, brochure, flyer, etc.
Students should be provided with clear course objectives, learning outcomes, concepts and ideas.
Beyond this, it is also important to give information related to technical requirements minimum basic computer configuration, operating system, internet access, plug-ins, particular software, firewall access, etc. The contribution of e-learning components to the development of educational objectives needs should be clear EADTU, The information of the contact of the person which responsible for the pedagogical and methodological issues, technical issues, for the tutoring and for the complaints should be given EFQUEL, Learners should be able to discuss the suitability of the course with the responsible and know who will be responsible for the evaluation internal or external agent ODLQC, All information should be consistent and reliable.
It should be also easy to access, update, coherent, consistent, etc. Program and methodology should take into account professional context, previous experience, prior learning and allow self-directed learning. The blending of learning methods online, face-to-face, self-learning, tutor-facilitated, asynchronous, synchronous should be appropriate and meet the needs and characteristics of learners EADTU, ; EFQUEL, Should have a reasoned coherence between learning outcomes, the strategy for use e-learning, the scope of the learning material and the assessment method used EADTU, A document which sets out the relationship between learning outcomes, learning activities and assessment should be produced.
In a b-learning context there should be an explicit rationale for the use of each component in the blend EADTU, Each course should include a clear statement of learning outcomes in respect of both knowledge and skills. The learning objectives should be appropriately designed for the level of the course and students should have instruction on how to meet them QM, the results and outcomes of the learning experience should be agreed between the staff and learners SEEQUEL, The learning objectives specification process conducts the development of an important guide to be used both by teacher and students.
The intention is to display the behaviours starting from the simplest to the more complex one. The assessment of the course should be done in a formative and summative mode and should be appropriate to the curriculum design EADTU, in a face-to-face or in a distance mode. The assessment instruments selected should be varied and appropriated to the work being assessed QM, Appropriate measures should be in place to prevent impersonation and plagiarism, especially when assessment is conducted online EADTU, Assignments should be clearly formulated and adequately explained to learners.
Learners should have a clear understanding of what they are expected to perform and how their performance will be measured. Another concern should be on the curriculum design. They should be designed in order to include components that contribute to the development of outcomes. Students should be able to relate course contents to skills and learning outcomes defined to the course EADTU, According to Peres and Pimenta after defining objectives and designing learning objectives assessment, we should establish the sequence of contents.
This organization avoids the specification of learning objectives based on the contents. Despite the importance of these levels, if the learning objectives consist in achieving a higher critical thinking level, it is important to explicit it on the objectives definition associated with analysis, synthesis and evaluation. The modules should be introduced with their introductory elements such as: brief description, objectives, estimated amount of time required, eventual assessment EFQUEL, The curriculum should include research modules taking into account the skills and independence that will be demanded of students in conducting research remotely EADTU, Before starting the program, students should be advised about the program to determine if they have the self-motivation and commitment to learn at a distance.
Preparatory classes, additional learning materials, recommended reading as well as pedagogical guidance and other forms of support should be available during the course in order to bridge learning deficits EFQUEL, The workload demanded by the course should be realistic regarding the objectives, curriculum and according to the characteristics of target group, including full time job occupation EFQUEL, The design of an instructional strategy should conduct to the learning success, individual or in group according to pedagogical models.
Many pedagogical views may be used to support the instruction planning. The choice of the pedagogical model should consider the moment of learning. At the beginning of the subject study, it is important to make sure that students are getting the basic knowledge behaviourist and cognitivist theory. Then, it is important to consolidate it and promote the self-learning based on previous experiences constructivist theory.
At the end, it is important to promote a deep learning by social interaction social constructivist theory. At beginning of learning activities, it is important to provide the self-introduction by the instructor and students QM, Students should have clear instructions on how to start and where to find various information of course components QM, Learning activities should also provide opportunities for interaction in order to support active learning QM, Learning activities should enable participation in academic community and contact with external professionals.
The institution should provide mechanisms for students to participate in active communities of professional practices in order to stimulate a critical attitude EADTU, The requirement for student interaction should be clearly articulated. Institutions should provide an online community for student-student and student-teacher interaction and make their policies available EADTU, Etiquette expectation for online discussion, email and other forms of communication should be clearly stated QM, To support communities of learners the activities should be designed in order to offer an appropriate use of asynchronous tools e.
The course and learning activities instructions should be linked to a description of the technical support and institutional accessibility polices and services QM, The course should offer ample opportunities for interaction and communication: student to student, student to instructor and student to content California State University CSU Chico, The tutor should maintain and demonstrate a clear commitment to help learners achieve their educational goals.
Nevertheless, learners should be responsible for their own learning and be informed of the tutor support.
Access to tutors should be provided on a regular and sufficient basis, known to both tutors and students. Tutor should be able to use a variety means to interact with learners e-mail, forum, VLE tools, etc. EADTU, During the learning process, the tutor should track and monitor the behaviour of the users SEEQUEL, and provide guidance and accompany to the learners.
Tutoring should offer opportunities for learners to determine their own learning pace. Despite the deadlines that must be established, learners should be able to control their own path throughout the program. Tutors should provide learners with timely expert advice on course issues or materials and feedback on assignments EADTU, Through the learning activities learners should be encouraged to consider and use higher thinking skills and to view issues from different perspectives EFQUEL, When there are one or more tutors, steps should be taken to ensure that tutor support is consistent ODLQC, Directions should be provided as to how students can participate in a broader academic community EADTU, Students should have access to support services including technical help desk, administrative support and course choice advice EADTU, The purpose of instructional materials and how they should be used for learning activities should be clearly explained QM, They should be structured to facilitate individual study and the development of study skills ODLQC, Contents should be relevant and clearly presented, build on and reinforce prerequisites concepts and skills.
Introduce, assess and reinforce new concepts and skills, should be logically structured and sequenced EADTU, The contents should be sufficient and not in excess. Little pieces of content are better than a more extensive one. The language should be simple and include visual elements. Any noise should be deleted. Resources should be adequately balanced regarding cognitive load and presented in a sub-divided form, in a logical sequence, without extra information.
Independent learning materials should provide learners with regular feedback through self-assessment activities or tests. The availability, function and purpose of independent learning materials should be clearly defined and communicated to students. This can include videos, tutorials, interviews with specialists, scenario based learning, games, etc. At the same time, students should be provided with hands-on training and information to help them in seeking material through electronic databases, interlibrary loans, government archives, news services, etc.
The bibliography should be commented.
Open, Distance and e-Learning (ODeL) RESEARCH FRAMEWORK
The materials should be effective and not contain significant errors of facts, misleading or out-of-date information, concepts and approaches ODLQC, Accessibility standards should be considered in the design of the course. The course should contain equivalent alternatives to auditory and visual contents. Learning material should be accessible and usable via a variety of devices including mobile devices.
The course design should facilitate readability and minimize distractions QM, The layout of the course should be clear and free of unnecessary elements. The size and type of font utilized should be comfortable for reading. Interfaces used in the technical design of course should conform to up-to-date usability and accessibility standards.
All interfaces should be functional and attracted to students. The course should be well-organized and easy to navigate, the aesthetic design should present and communicate the course information clearly throughout the course. The navigation through the mandatory learning materials should allow learners to know about their progress and position in relation to the overall content, identifying the unit, module, lesson, part of a unit, etc. Navigating throughout the online course should be intuitive, consistent and easy to navigate.
All screens, tables of contents and learning materials, including additional sources should have a printable version EFQUEL, Learning materials should comply with legal requirements, copyright issues should be identified and documented EADTU, The technical infrastructure that maintains the e-learning system should fit the purpose and support both academic and administrative functions. Technical infrastructure should be well defined and support institutional e-learning objectives. Institution should set standards for the operation of its technical infrastructure that are benchmarked against other major online customer service providers EADTU, The tools learning management system and other tools used in learning strategies and collaborative learning should be in accordance with the information technology infrastructure available, with the target group equipment and connectivity, learning skills and needs, staff teaching skills, learning objectives, assignments and other activities EFQUEL, A system for learners profiling should be in place.
The course technology should be current and students should readily access the technologies required in the course QM, Search functions should be available for forums discussions, blogs, etc. Appropriated operating and security standards for all aspects of provision of online services should be defined. The virtual learning environment should runs on an adequate server, which guarantees its stability. Learning management system should be integrated with the management information and administrative system EADTU, Information such as system recovery, key performance indicator of system availability, download time, queuing time for access, etc.
Monitoring the patterns of the use of the system by students and staff should be a source of information for improvement in pedagogical as well as technical issues EFQUEL, Support for building and maintaining the distance education infrastructure should be addressed by a centralized system. Easily accessible technical assistance should be available to all students.
The provider should be committed to the continuous improvement. A process for integrating the recommendations for improvement should be foreseen as a part of the programme EFQUEL, Procedures to ensure the quality, effectiveness and relevance of the material should be developed on a regular basis. Specific standards should be in place to compare and improve learning outcomes. The performance of the e-learning systems should be monitored and opportunities for performance improvement identified.
Performance of mentors, tutors and moderators should be monitored regularly. Problems and issues should be acted upon promptly. A questionnaire developed specifically for the program should be used in order to assess overall quality and appropriateness of:. An evaluation report should be prepared, in which feedback is analyzed and converted into clear recommendation for improvements in future programme design. The report should include the following topics:. An evaluation of cost-benefits should be made. More and more institutions are offering courses at distance. This might be a good solution to overcome some difficulties e.
Views of distance learning vary significantly from region to region throughout the world. In most countries and regions, distance learning is respected as an alternative to studying on campus. Here, distance education has demonstrated its capacity and quality, and in many countries programmes are accredited by the same agencies that govern campus based education.
The fact that we experience convergence between campus based, blended, and distance learning is also a driver for increased understanding. In some parts of the world, however, this is not the case. The regulatory framework might not recognize distance education, or quality assurance may be lacking, leading to confusion and mistrust. This digital divide is a global challenge, as is resistance to embrace technology, though there are countless examples of ingenuity and innovation which seek to combat this.
In distance education, there has been an explosion in student numbers in these countries. Almost one in six students enrolled in undergraduate studies in Brazil enters into a distance learning course. However, while each of these countries has experienced amazing progress in distance education, the obstacles that remain are very real: acceptance, regulation, infrastructure, and particularly the question of how to maintain quality at scale. This debate is coordinated by the International Council for Open and Distance Education , the global membership organization for actors within open and distance learning.
ICDE works towards the goals of Education for All through its status as an organization in formal consultative relations with UNESCO, and seeks to raise acceptance of open and distance learning at the government, institutional leadership, academic, and societal levels. The organization also seeks to facilitate dialogue between the developed and the developing world through its conferences, projects and information activity.
Subscribe now and get the latest articles from Educational Technology Debate sent directly to your inbox. Nice that you use the closed question form, which makes it easy to answer yes. Sir John S Daniel already argued in his book "Mega- schools, technology and teachers" that the educational needs of an ever growing world population can only be met by open and distance learning, not only at university level. I am convinced that the 21st century will confirm the breakthrough of the virtual university.
The position above remarks that there are doubts regarding online learning from an institutional viewpoint: quality assurance may be a problem, but also copyright, technical management, online tutoring skills and adequate assessment techniques may be other issues at stake.
Planning and Developing Open and Distance Learning: A Framework for Quality - PDF Free Download
I feel however that even if the universities, which generally have the means to overcome these obstacles, would implement a solid virtual environment and learning experience, in many countries of the world the students might not be ready to participate — that is not yet. The mobile revolution is sweeping through even the poorest developing countries, but it is hard to imagine a "poor" student preparing for a degree in any science through an iPhone. I guess that leaves some breathing space for the universities to get ready for the massive learning experiences of the future….
Access to technology is a big issue, as is its appropriateness for certain subjects. But blended delivery modes seem to work well in developing countries, where material delivery might be through the postal system, assignments written by hand, or sent by email from a regional resource centre, and text messages used for reminders, quick questions and general student support.
Implementation of technology will have to be gradual to get it right. Hi Nick and colleagues, I am convinced that, if we accept that education is a fundamental right for all, distance online learning is the best feasible solution for all countries confronted to the increasing number of students registered in traditional institutions, to millions of men and women who cannot register there for many reasons financial, work, distance and other barriers , particularly in developing countries.
The issue of quality could be addressed in different ways. Often at institutions, we say we have a quality course because many gifted people have been involved in its creation. However, if learners are unable to learn from the material and are unable to apply what they know, can we still say a quality course has been produced?
I believe that the British Open University firmly established the benefits of developing courses in a collaborative team environment. AVU employed authors and reviewers from 12 universities in 10 countries to develop and peer review modules for their Teacher Education Program. Materials were pilot tested and adjusted accordingly.
Further, by releasing the modules as open educational resources OER , more people are able to view the material and offer suggestions regarding how it could be improved. Due to the approach used by AVU, their materials have won awards and have been accessed by many. However, the production of quality materials is only one implementation step towards increasing access to educational opportunities in countries with weak economies.
A number of distance education implementation issues are being addressed by those involved in the establishment of OER University OERu with regard to tutoring and accreditation. Those involved should be commended for their efforts. But there are still other areas that need to be addressed if equitable access to educational opportunities is to be achieved. Thus, according to Atkins et al. Open and distance learning, in its many forms, is a key solution to providing quality education for all.
In my previous response to the EdTech Debate, I inverted the question posed and focused on quality in distance learning. You can only have quality higher education for all if the learning programs are of high quality regardless of how it is delivered. Thus, open and distance learning can only be the key to higher education if the learning program itself is of high quality. From my perspective, a quality distance program displays the attributes below. Those developing and delivering the program are clearly cognizant of whom they are serving.
Decisions are based on addressing student needs.
Suggestions brought forth by the educational community are listened to and acted upon. They, like their students, are actively learning. Students are respected. They require learners to search, compile, analyze, interpret, and apply data from the real world. Programs are reviewed continuously and revisions are based on reliable data. Quality is not just an add-on, but fully integrated into all facets of the operation. Quality, important that it is, is only one component of a successful distance or e-learning program.
I want to be a little bit real. In Uganda we are still using the first generation distance learning i. Open and distance learning drives its support through good development of reading materials. However, in Uganda a high percentage of students pay their tuition fees two weeks to the start of exams.
Yet the student is supposed to get open and distance learning study materials which are a key component of distance learning when he is paid up. How can we ensure quality in such a situation? The word "distant" describes our relationship with the people whose lives we would like to improve for the benefit of us all. We cannot assume to know what technologies and solutions are most appropriate on the ground when we are so far in the air. If we want to help, we should first ask people what they need most, and first.
We could learn from experiences in related areas, like the microloans program and the Fair Trade movement. We may need to address some basic, immediate economic issues as part of the goal of addressing educational needs. First, he discovered, they wanted to build a bridge. The school followed.
The values that underpin Open Education should also inform our response to the enormous, urgent need for education worldwide. As we respond to this need, let's not replicate the hierarchical, exclusive, top-down thinking and structures including buildings and that characterize traditional educational institutions. If we learn to listen, we can learn as we teach.
As someone who has worked all his life in open and distance learning, I of course fully support the expansion of distance and open learning. For economic development and a civilized society we need mass education, or education for all, but delivered in a variety of forms. To be honest I don't accept the argument that the ONLY way to expand access to education is through open and distance learning. Developing or less economically advanced countries will still need more physical schools, colleges and universities, including some elite research institutions focused especially on that country's needs.
However, open and distance learning could and probably should constitute a larger proportion if all learners are to be served. This means thinking carefully about how to build an integrated system so that all needs are served. One way to ensure that distance education is just as accepted as conventional education is to build new institutions with a mandate and resources including training for both campus-based and online teaching.
In particular, over the next decade, we shall see more and more hybrid learning, where students do some study on campus and the rest online, so the dividing line between distance and campus-based teaching becomes increasingly blurred.