For an Online Learning Centre

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3.1 Quality of e-learning centres

All e-learning initiatives are a combination of inputs and resources, processes and practices, outputs and outcomes. Therefore, to manage quality in an e-learning centre one has to accommodate all aspects of it by taking in consideration how to:

  • understand political, social, economic and environmental impacts of its activities,

  • identify and work with key stakeholders,

  • elaborate vision, mission and values,

  • set up a systematic approach to strategies and policies,

  • design business plans,

  • have a process approach to the organisation,

  • develop guidelines for measurement, review and improvement of key results,

  • improve continuously quality.

From our point of view, ISO 9000:2000 is a good framework to accomplish with all these tasks. Therefore, in the following pages we try to explain how an e-learning centre can adapt those principles to its activities.

3.2 Coming back to principles

The first principle of ISO 9000:2000 is customer focus. Since e-learning centre customers are learners, than we can restate this principle as follows.

3.2.1 Principle 1 - Learner focus

E-learning centres have to understand current and future needs and wants of learners. By meeting requirements and striving to exceed expectations, they can:

  • increase revenue and market share obtained through flexible and fast responses to market opportunities;

  • increase effectiveness in the use of the organization's resources to enhance learner satisfaction;

  • improve learner loyalty leading to repeat business.

In order to apply this principle it is essential to: 

  • research and understand learner needs and expectations;

  • ensure that the objectives of the organization are linked to learner needs and expectations;

  • communicate learner needs and expectations throughout the organization;

  • measure learner satisfaction and acting on the results;

  • manage systematically learner relationships;

  • guarantee a balanced approach between learners and other interested parties (such as parents, e-learning centre staff, suppliers, financiers, local communities and society as a whole).

We can confirm the second principle stated by ISO 9000 2000:

3.2.2 Principle 2 - Leadership

Leaders can create and maintain an internal environment in which people become fully involved in achieving the organization’s objectives. Therefore, the presence of leaders can be helpful to establish unity of purpose and direction of the organization, since it is essential that:

  • human resources understand and are motivated towards the organization’s goals and objectives;

  • activities are evaluated, aligned and implemented in a unified way;

  • miscommunication between levels of an organization are minimized.

The task is not easily to implement since it is necessary:

  • consider the needs of all stakeholders;

  • establish a clear vision of the organization’s future;

  • set challenging goals and targets;

  • create and sustain shared values, fairness and ethical role models at all levels of the organization;

  • establish trust and eliminate fear;

  • provide people with the required resources, training and freedom to act with responsibility and accountability;

  • inspire, encourage and recognize people's contributions.

Since the activities of e-learning centre can be ran from different places it is important to invest on human resources by applying the third principle.

3.2.3 Principle 3 - Involvement of people

As matter of facts, people at all levels are the essence of e-learning centre and their full involvement enables their abilities to be used for the organization's benefit. Therefore, it is important that people:

  • understand the importance of their contribution and role in the organization,

  • identify constraints to their performance,

  • accept ownership of problems and their responsibility for solving them,

  • evaluate their performance against their personal goals and objectives,

  • seek opportunities to enhance their competence, knowledge and experience,

  • share knowledge and experience,

  • discuss problems and issues.

When we think about something starting with "e", such as e-commerce, e-business, e-learning, and so on, we imagine all these activities ran by computers. So, we ask ourselves, do we really need people to run an e-learning centre?

Let us answer with other questions. What happens if there is a bug, such as what we have known as millennium bug? Who is going to understand learner needs? Who is going to educate, teach and train in a not conventional way when learner does not contribute to satisfy his or her learning need?

Here, we have the answer to first question. In many circumstances people save organization, therefore it could to keep in mind that there are many benefits from people involvement, such as:

  • motivated and committed people within the organization;

  • innovation and creativity in furthering the organization's objectives;

  • people being accountable for their own performance;

  • people eager to participate in and contribute to continual improvement.

3.2.4 Principle 4 - Process approach

To achieve a result more efficiently it is necessary to manage activities and related resources as a process, i.e. the set of interrelated or interacting activities transforming inputs into outputs.

In other words, it is required:

  • to identify the activities necessary to obtain a desired result;

  • to establish clear responsibility and accountability for managing key activities;

  • to analyse and measure the capability of key activities;

  • to define the interfaces of key activities within and between the functions of the organization;

  • to focus on the factors – such as resources, methods, and materials – that will improve key activities of the organization;

  • evaluate risks, consequences and impacts of activities on all interested parties.

The process approach leads to following benefits:

  • lower costs and shorter cycle times through effective use of resources;

  • improved, consistent and predictable results;

  • focused and prioritized improvement opportunities.

3.2.5 Principle 5 - System approach to management

An organization can increase the effectiveness and efficiency in achieving its objectives by identifying, understanding and managing interrelated processes as a system. An e-learning centre can adopt this principle by:

  • structuring a system to achieve its objectives in the most effective and efficient way;

  • understanding the interdependencies between the processes of the system;

  • structuring approaches that harmonize and integrate processes;

  • providing a better understanding of the roles and responsibilities necessary for achieving common objectives and thereby reducing cross-functional barriers;

  • understanding organizational capabilities and establishing resource constraints prior to action;

  • targeting and defining how specific activities within a system should operate;

  • continually improving the system through measurement and evaluation.

By doing so, e-learning centre capture following benefits:

  • integrate and align processes that will best achieve the desired results;

  • focus effort on the key processes;

  • provide confidence to interested parties as to the consistency, effectiveness and efficiency of the organization .

3.2.6 Principle 6 - Continuous improvement

The organization should have as a permanent objective the continual improvement of overall performance. This principle is even more challenging for an e-learning centre, since the entire community could look at it as the benchmark for continuous improvement. Therefore, it is necessary to:

  • employ a consistent organization-wide approach to continual improvement;

  • provide people with training;

  • make continual improvement of products, processes and systems an objective for every individual in the organization;

  • establish goals to guide, and measures to track, continual improvement;

  • recognize and acknowledge improvements.

However, by adopting this principle an e-learning centre receive following benefits:

  • performance advantage through improved organizational capabilities;

  • alignment of improvement activities at all levels to its strategic intent;

  • flexibility to react quickly to opportunities.

3.2.7 Principle 7 - Factual approach to decision making

It is essential to base effective decision on the analysis of data and information. E-learning centre should:

  • ensure that data and information are sufficiently accurate and reliable;

  • make data accessible to those who need it;

  • analyse data and information using valid methods;

  • make decisions and take action based on factual analysis, balanced with experience and intuition.

By doing so, it can capture following benefits:

  • informed decisions;

  • increased ability to demonstrate the effectiveness of past decisions through reference to factual records;

  • increased ability to review, challenge and change opinions and decisions.

3.2.8 Principle 8 - Mutually beneficial stakeholder relationships

An e-learning centre and its stakeholders are interdependent and a mutually beneficial relationship enhances the ability of both to create value. To apply this principle an e-learning centre should:

  • establish relationships that balance short-term gains with long-term considerations;

  • adopt clear and open communication;

  • share information and future plans;

  • establish joint development and improvement activities;

  • inspire, encourage and recognize improvements and achievements by all stakeholders.

By doing so it can:

  • create value for both parties;

  • increase flexibility and speed of responses to needs and expectations;

  • optimize allocation of resources.

Whatever it will be the quality approach adopted by the e-learning centre, it should be clear that it have to understand customer needs and expectations: Therefore it needs a set of tools3 for analysing and describing processes, and a set of indicators to monitoring and measuring quality.
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For an Online Learning Centre iconCentre for Equity in Education (cee) web site. University of Manchester. 2007 [online]

For an Online Learning Centre iconMoving from the periphery to the centre: Promoting conversation and developing communities of practice in online environments’

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For an Online Learning Centre iconScoping Study to Investigate Online Learning Environments to Facilitate Evidence Sharing by Literacy and Numeracy Practitioners

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For an Online Learning Centre iconResearch Officer, Centre for Risk and Community Safety rmit university and Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre

For an Online Learning Centre iconDesign of powerful learning environments to promote intentional learning: multiple perspectives

For an Online Learning Centre iconGeneralized Pursuit Learning Schemes : New Families of Continuous and Discretized Learning Automata1

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