From Researching Virtual Initiatives in Education
Trainer’s and Professional’s Guide to Quality in Open and Distance Learning
WP4 – D4
145 pages, 15/09/2006.
Juha Holma, Suvi Junes, University of Tampere
Excerpt from introduction: The Structure of The Guide
This guide is targeted for professional users of information technology in Open and Distance
Learning. Professional users can be teachers, planners, material producers, technical and
pedagogical support personnel working in the field of higher education. The special target groups of
the guide are the trainers or the tutors of quality issues in ODL, but the guide is structured into
thematic entities, so that different parts of it can be read as independent introductions to the various aspects of quality in ODL.
The first part, Introducing Quality in Open and Distance Learning, highlights the main concepts. Different meanings and ways of understanding the concept of quality are illustrated. Open and distance learning is approached from the different perspectives on technological change. The importance of the tools perspective on technology in the treatment of quality problems is clearly set out. The first part of the guide can be read as a short introduction to the multidimensionality of the question of quality and follow-up for all who are interested in it in the field of Open and Distance Learning.
The second part, Making Quality Visible, takes the student’s perspective as its starting point by presenting the concepts of the student’s lifecycle and learning event. The student’s lifecycle is a path, which the student follows from the beginning of studies up to graduation. Lifecycle functions as the context within which the different processes of ODL are examined in order to assess the state of affairs affecting the quality of learning. The processes are broken down into different roles and activities.. These are then discussed in detail in the context of two sub processes: student support and learning material design and production. The second part of the guide is best suited for readers wishing to get an overview on how quality issues can be approached by analyzing the different processes affecting the quality of learning in ODL from the perspective of separate role performing activities, i.e. making up the processes in question.
The third part, Generating Quality by Using Quality Tools, deals with quality criteria. The concepts of criterion and indicator are discussed in relation to roles and activities. It is shown how roles and activities are linked to different criteria, and moreover, how the criteria can be used at specific moments to produce quality. Before the learning event, criteria can be used to check that sufficient preparation has been made to ensure a high quality learning outcome. After the learning event, the same criteria can be used to evaluate the success of the learning event. After the evaluation, criteria can be used to set up a durable action plan and/or to construct best practices. The third part is a practical guide for ODL professionals wishing to develop and improve their working performance.