For an Online Learning Centre




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5. Conclusion




This guide discussed quality of e-learning centres and related activities.

We argued that quality is important worldwide and that, since internet is a shop open 24 hours per day in every day of the week, learners have more chances to choose providers of their education and training.


We noticed that implementation of a quality approach can be the first step to accredit and certify e-learning centre processes and results.

For this reason, we discussed various criteria to achieve excellence and adapted ISO 9000:2000 principles to e-learning sector.


Finally, in order to give some operational details, we also listed some tools and descript key indicators to analyse quality of an e-learning centre.


BIBLIOGRAPHY




Barker, K. (1999). Quality guidelines for technology-assisted distance education. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education Office of Learning Technologies.


Bruce, B., Fallon, C. and Horton, W. (2000). Getting started with online learning. Macromedia, Inc. Available on the World Wide Web at: http://www.macromedia.com/learning/online_learning_guide.pdf.


Cavanaugh, C. (1999). The effectiveness of interactive distance education technologies in K-12 learning: A meta-analysis. Proceedings of American Education Research Association Annual Meeting, Montreal, Canada.


Computer Industry Almanac, Inc. (2000). Fifteen Leading Countries in Internet Users Per Capita. Arlington Heights, IL. Available on the World Wide Web at: http://www.c-i-a.com.


Council of Regional Accrediting Commissions. (2000). Statement of the regional accrediting commissions on the evaluation of electronically offered degree and certificate programs and guidelines for the evaluation of electronically offered degree and certificate programs. Available on the World Wide Web at: http://www.ncacihe.org/resources/draftdistanceguide/.


CyberAtlas. (2000). Demographics. Available on the World Wide Web at: http://cyberatlas.internet.com/big_picture/demographics/.


Distance Education and Training Council. (2000). Accreditation Standards. Available on the World Wide Web at: http://www.detc.org/content/accredStandards.html.


Educational Development Associates. (1998). What Quality Distance Learning Courses for an Institution? Las Cruces, MN.


Fredericksen, E., Peltz, W. and Swan, K. (2000). Student satisfaction and perceived learning with online courses: Principles and examples from the SUNY learning network. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 4(2).


Grunwald Associates. (2000). Children, Families and the Internet. Burlingame, CA: Author.

Institute for Higher Education Policy. (2000). Quality on the Line: Benchmarks

for Success in Internet-Based Distance Education. Washington, DC.


Johnstone, S. (2001). Does accreditation really mean accredited? Syllabus, 14(6), 22.


Kearsley, G. (2000). Online Education. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.


Mantyla, K. (1999). Interactive Distance Learning Exercises that Really Work. Alexandria, VA: American Society for Training and Development.


Market Data Retrieval. (2000). Technology in Education 2000. Shelton, CT.


Moore, M. and Thompson, M. (with Quigley, A., Clark, G. and Goff, G.). (1990). The effects of distance learning: A summary of the literature. Research Monograph No. 2 University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University, American Center for the Study of Distance Education.


Moore, M. (1989). Effects of distance learning: A summary of the literature.Washington, DC: Office of Technical Assessment.


Owen j. (2002). Making quality sense: a guide to quality, tools and techniques, awards and the thinking behind them Learning and Skills Development Agency


Palloff, R. and Pratt, K. (1999). Building Learning Communities in Cyberspace.San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.


Southern Regional Electronic Campus. (2000). Principles of Good Practice. Available on the World Wide Web at: http://www.srec.sreb.org/student/srecinfo/principles/principles.html.


U.S. Department of Commerce. (2000). Falling Through the Net: Toward Digital Inclusion. Washington, DC.


Vaughan, M. (2000). Summary of quality issues in distance education. Center for Excellence in Distance Learning. Available on the World Wide Web at: http://www.lucent.com/cedl/sumqual.html.


Web-Based Education Commission. (2000). The Power of the Internet for Learning. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education.


Wilkes, C. and Burnham, B. (1991). Adult learner motivations and electronics distance education. The American Journal of Distance Education, 5(1), 43-50.


Glossary





Accreditation

The formal recognition of the achievement of specified learning outcomes at a particular level.  Normally accreditation is given by an awarding body, which is statutorily recognised.


Certification

The public confirmation and recording of the conferring of credits and/or an award.


Chat or Chat Room

Text-based, real-time, group communication over the Internet. Multiple users can type their questions and answers for everyone to see.


Collaborative learning

Learners come together to produce shared understandings and accomplish a joint goal or project. Technology is used as a tool for learning, group work, communication and collaboration.


Deming Prize


Introduced in 1951, this award is assigned to companies who have shown an efficient company quality control at a wide range.


E-learning

Covers a wide set of applications and processes such as web-based learning, computer-based learning, virtual classrooms, and digital collaboration. It includes the delivery of content via internet, intranet/extranet, audiotape, videotape, satellite broadcast, interactive TV, and CD-Rom.


European Quality Management Award

Established in 1991 in order to support European companies able to show a successful quality management.


ISO

It is the acronym for International Organization for Standardization, a net of national institutions related to standards from 140 nations. They operate in partnership with boards, governments, industries, firms, and international cuonsumers' representatives.





ISO 9000

It is a regulation, set by ISO, now an international reference point as to quality requirements. The latest revision concerning ISO 9000 was presented towards the end of year 2000 under the name ISO 9000:2000.


Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award


Established in 1987 by the USA Congress , it aimed both at recognizing on a national level Malcolm Baldrige so that the awerness of quality managment could grow and at rewarding the American companies capable to develop quality management systems.


Online learning

Specific format of learning in which students, teachers, tutors and technical staff, mostly “meet”, “learn/teach” and/or “communicate” through technological links within a virtual environment.


Quality management


It is a strategical approach able to integrate all the elements of an institution in the view of meeting users/customers’needs.

It is a long-term, systematic commitment to reach quality in the product delivery and provide better services.


Quality management

It is a strategical approach able to integrate all the elements of an institution in the view of meeting users/customers’needs.

It is a long-term, systematic commitment to reach quality in the product delivery and provide better services.


Self-learning

The learner is responsible for his/her progress and develops their own learning and problem-solving strategy being provided only with with on-line learning materials.


Supported self-learning

The learner is provided with on-line learning materials and individual tutorial support and feedback.

Set of tools




Among tools and techniques for analysing and describing quality, we can list the following:


  • affinity diagrams,

  • brainstorming,

  • cause and effect,

  • check sheets/tally sheets,

  • flowcharts,

  • force field analysis,

  • Gantt charts,

  • histograms,

  • moments of truth,

  • Pareto analysis,

  • scatter diagrams,

  • SWOT analysis.


Many authors have shown their characteristics and discussed how to apply them to different contexts. In order to not reply their findings, we refer to them to explore specific use4.



1 We will refer to e-learning centres as any organization (university, school, corporate universities, for-profit education businesses, media and publishing companies, Information and Communication Vendors, etc., that arranges and delivers e-learning activities by using different resources (human, technological, economic, etc) to satisfy the expectation of its customers

2 Assessment provides an evaluation of the student's competence in meeting specified objectives. However, it is also an essential part of the teaching and learning process. Properly selected assessment tasks signal the importance of particular content, concepts and skills, influence approaches to study and help students to allocate their time appropriately. Constructive and timely feedback on assessment helps students to gain a sense of achievement and progress, an appreciation of the performance and standards expected in a particular discipline or professional area, and to learn from their endeavours.

3 A list of tools is annexed at the end of the guide.

4 For their discussion and application, look at Jane Owen Making quality sense: a guide to quality, tools and techniques, awards and the thinking behind them Learning and Skills Development Agency 2002.
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