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.
Meet our experts on quality assurance
Karen Kear is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Computing and Communications at the UK Open University, one of the world’s major distance learning institutions. As well as teaching Computing and IT, she is a leading researcher of online learning, and author of ‘Online and Social Networking Communities: a best practice guide for educators’, published by Routledge.
Karen has played a leading role in the EADTU’s E-xcellence initiatives for quality assurance and enhancement in e-learning. She co-authored two editions of the E-xcellence manual ‘Quality Assessment for E-learning: a Benchmarking Approach’ and has carried out E-xcellence reviews at universities across Europe. She is Chair of the EMPOWER field of expertise in Quality Assurance.
EMPOWER Envisioning report articles:
- Excellence in e-learning: the key challenges for universities, Karen Kear & Jon Rosewell, (2nd Edition pp. 20-22)
- Changing pedagogies: The Open Networking Lab, Jon Rosewell & Karen Kear, (3rd Edition pp. 39 – 41)
- From 10 years of E-xcellence quality reviews for e-learning, Karen Kear & Jon Rosewell, September 2018
Selection of activities:
- Professor in IT and Law.
- Former rector of the Open University of the Netherlands (2011-2019)
- Former dean of the Law Facutly of VU University (2005-2011)
- Former President of EADTU (2014-2018)
- Former Member Executive Committee EADTU (2011-2020)
- 2018- present Member of IEP (EAU)
- 2019 – present Member of the supervisory Board University of applied Sciences Rotterdam
- 2019 – present President Scientific Technology Board SURF
- 2019- present Vice president sectorplan Social Sciences and Humanities
- 2017-present Member of the supervisory board Koning Willem1 College
- 2018-present Member Advisory board Universidade Aberta Portugal
- 2013- 2018 Member Hochschulrat Fernuniversität Hagen (supervisory board)
- 2011 – 2012 Member International Audit Committee the Hague Institute for International Law
- 2019 Law School, university of Aruba (chair)
- 2019 Lodz University of Technology
- 2020 Thomas Bata University Ziln
- 2008- present numerous test audits for Open University and VU university
Dr. Elif Toprak is an Associate Professor of Applied Communications at Open Education Faculty, Anadolu University, Turkey. She received her BSc, MSc and PhD degrees in the discipline of International Relations (IR), from Middle East Technical University (METU), Bilkent University and Uludağ University respectively. She teaches IR Theory, Globalization and International Distance Education, International Communication and Public Diplomacy courses. Her research interests are international cooperation and regimes, intercultural communication, transnational higher education, administration in open and distance education, quality assurance and accreditation in open and distance learning. She is a member of Quality Commission of Anadolu University and is a Board member of the national accreditation agency for distance education, Association for Evaluation and Accreditation of Open and Distance Education Programs (AUDAK).
She also contributed to the webinar week on Blended Learning in June 2019 with the presentation called: Why Diversity Matter in ODL? Case of Anadolu University
Jon Rosewell, Open University of the United Kingdom (OUUK)
Keith Williams, Open University of the United Kingdom (OUUK)
Miguel Santamaría Lancho, Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED)
Covadonga Rodriguez, Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED)
André Vyt, Ghent University (UGent)
Mairéad Nic Giolla Mhichíl, Dublin City Universiy (DCU)
Taina Saarinen, Jyväskylän yliopisto (JYU)
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.