Quality assurance approaches in higher education are well-established, but it is important to develop quality assurance and enhancement methods which apply to new modes of teaching and learning. The teaching, support and assessment - whether online or face-to-face - needs to be of a high standard, so that students are challenged and engaged. Quality assurance frameworks can help to make this happen.
Quality assurance systems for higher education vary widely across Europe and internationally. Points of difference include:
- whether the focus of a quality assurance system is on checking compliance with standards or on rather on promoting quality enhancement;
- the extent to which external oversight is required;
- the applicability to online, open and flexible learning, as opposed to just face-to-face contexts.
Mature quality assurance systems allow universities to set their own goals (and decide how to achieve them) within a broad framework of standards. Each university then has the flexibility to demonstrate performance against criteria which are relevant to its mission and context.
For example, the E-xcellence approach to quality assurance for e-learning is grounded in the belief that universities are well placed to assess the quality of their own e-learning and to identify what is relevant to their own context. The EADTU E-xcellence resources are designed to support universities in this, and to encourage a collegiate and collaborative approach to quality assurance.
Taking another example, although MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) attract large numbers of learners, their completion rates are low. Could this situation be changed by focussing attention on quality assurance for MOOCs? The EADTU OpenUpEd initiative for quality assurance of MOOCs is based on this premise. Universities offering MOOCs can use the OpenUpEd framework to carry out a self-evaluation of their MOOCs, and of their approaches to developing them.