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SEMINAR OF UNIVe WORKING GROUPS Quality Assurance; Virtual Mobility November 18-19, 2004, Sundsvall. Issues of e-universities in small countries. Increasing access to higher education New learning models e-Learning courses and curricula Organisation

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Quality Assurance; Virtual Mobility

November 18-19, 2004, Sundsvall

issues of e universities in small countries
Issues of e-universities in small countries
  • Increasing access to higher education
  • New learning models
  • e-Learning courses and curricula
  • Organisation
  • Co-operation between universities and internationalisation: virtual mobility
  • Quality assurance and accreditation
  • Staff support and staff development
  • Business models
quality assurance
Quality Assurance
  • Task Force Quality AssurancePOSITION PAPER


The general objective is to optimise the learning

process and the learning results and offer

assurance to stakeholders that e-learning

provision is high quality with 2 frameworks of

Quality Assurance

  • Existing national quality assurance system
  • European Quality assurance system of e-learning excellence
  • develop a valid core of parameters and criteria
  • develop overall framework of quality factors, and in clear criteria for judging the excellence of technology-enhanced learning,
  • accreditation by EADTU as well as the national criteria for the quality of higher education in a certain discipline as such.
what are the distinctive characteristics of eadtu institutions
What are the distinctive characteristics of EADTU Institutions?
  • These distinctive criteria can be defined (1) at the programme/curriculum and institutional level at one hand, (2) and at the course level at the other. The issue of accreditation is linked to the first.
  • The quality criteria we are searching for are related to the distinctive contribution/added value/potential of virtual learning to the programme or course.
new criteria for excellence

At the institutional level:

  • the central educational concept of institution, affecting the design of virtual learning/e-learning programmes and courses:
  • the technological infrastructure
  • examples of best practice of virtual higher education/e-learning at the programme and course level;
  • the support structure for developing and delivering virtual learning/e-learning programmes and courses; hardware/software aspects; educational aspects;
  • educational (virtual secretary, virtual academic management).
  • The student management system: fit for flexibility (student careers, programmes);
  • virtual libraries;
  • staff development and training for virtual learning/e-learning;
  • link with virtual learning/e-learning research and development programmes and projects;
  • institutional scalability and diffusion strategies
  • innovative capacity
  • policy for combining study and work;
  • compatibility with e-learning standards
  • computer security and e-mail security
At the programme level
  • central educational concept of the programme that affects virtual learning/e-learning activities;
  • consistency of the blending of different learning activities: face to face, e-learning, video-conferencing,…
  • access, also off campus and international, hence inter-operability with others
  • attractiveness and user-friendliness: relevant, structuring, activating, stimulating, usability and accessibility
  • flexibility: time, place, tempo, content, didactic approach
  • interactivity: staff –individual, between students, smaller and larger groups
  • communication aspects
  • administrative aspects
  • assessment procedures
  • connectivity with off campus stakeholders (employers, regions,…)
at the course level
At the course level

The criteria, which should be evaluated according to the objectives

and the target group(s) of the course, are:

  • accessibility of the course by the target group(s). This should not be limited to the core course material, but extended to relevant distributed learning resources (relevant libraries, databases, …)
  • personalisation/ flexibility in terms of time and pace (also synchronous/asynchronous provisions), place, content, didactic approach
  • interactivity: particular relationship between teaching staff, student and content; guidance, tutoring; collaborative learning; learning communities,…
  • assessment
  • feedback loop for students to optimize the course
  • international connectivity
  • participation in research community
  • connectivity with off campus stakeholders (employers, regions,…)


  • Accreditation for excellence in ODL should be organised internationally in a networked way and hence be based on a procedure of involving international experts of EADTU reflecting the principal quality dimensions (technological, educational, strategic) and the variety in European virtual higher education.


Creating a standard of excellence for e-learning

EAC/26/04 NL004



1. European Association of Distance Teaching Universities (EADTU)

2. Open University (OUUK)

3. Open Universiteit (OUNL)

4. University of OULU (Fi)

5. Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) (Es)

6. Centre National d’Enseignement a Distance (CNED) (Fr)

7. Universidad Nacional de Educacion a Distanca (UNED) (Es)

8. Consorzio NETTUNO (It)

9. Apertus Public Foundation (Hu)

10. Estonian Information Technology Foundation (EITF)

11. European University Association (EUA)



  • European universities are in a process of creating a European Area of Higher Education through better access, quality, competitiveness and attractiveness. Improving e-learning will ultimately support the Bologna objectives (“e-Bologna”), since it will become a core approach in most courses and curricula: create better access to European higher education at all levels and in all domains both in mainstream continuing education, ensure co-operation between universities, raise the competitiveness of European universities.
  • The main objective of this proposal is to contribute to this process by creating standards of excellence as:
  • assessment tool (programme and institutional level)
  • improvement tool (internal quality care system)
  • a tool for accreditation for excellence.

Starting points

Criteria envisaged

Institutional , curriculum and course aspects (micro- and meso-level of education)

Expertise will be brought together on a European wide scale with involvement of expert institutions like the dtu’s, research and development institutes and other organizations in the field of QA and Accreditation.

The result of accreditation on e-learning is an indication of the degree of excellence in ODL at the institutional or curriculum level, and not a Yes-No judgment. The latter refers more to public accountability, our approach is benchmarking in terms of excellence to enable institutions to profile their best practice.

The assessment will be combined with a label of excellence for institutions, as far as the “E-“ in e-learning is concerned. It will be a specific scope, next to content, within the overall assessment process.


Target Group

The target group for quality assurance is in first line:

the educational institution. Teachers and developers of e-learning programmes can benefit from the foreseen manual on good practices to improve their programmes, based on the quality factors identified.

In second line:

Businessesand users. Education will be more in correspondence with the expectations of the students and business-life.


WP 1. Criteria development

Leader: OULU

The first objective of the WP is to make an inventory of the existing criteria of quality issues of eLearning in higher education.

The second objective is to draw a picture of the European quality practices of eLearning in higher education. The goal is to develop criteria of excellence on eLearning and threshold criteria.

We want to collaborate closely on this with European actors working on HE quality issues.

The work consists of an inventory. This will be a data collection and analysis in all participating countries. The WP-leader will be responsible of taking into account the practices from countries not represented in the project. The data will be collected through existing documents, interviews and surveys.

From the national reports a European summary will be drawn.

Based on the state-of-the-art reports a proposal for EuropeaneLearning quality criteria standard will be drawn.


WP 2. Feedback request from stakeholders

Leader: EADTU

Students, businesses and staff will be consulted on the draft list of criteria and the proposed approach of external validation.

This will lead to a final list of criteria and guidelines of validation methods.


WP 3. Testing and improving

Leader: OUUK

The work in this package builds upon the work undertaken in the preceding two packages and translates the criteria into working quality processes.

There are two objectives for this work package.

A Using the agreed criteria developed through work packages 1 and 2, to draw up a set of parameters and guidelines for their interpretation for use in a validation context. Definition of a testing procedure and approach.

B Developing internal quality systems based on the criteria. These will enable regular monitoring, review and evaluation of ODL programmes in a variety of contexts, and will inform the institutional agenda for enhancement and development of such programmes.

This work package will include reference to:

1. A basic threshold level establishing a set of minimum requirements and standards

2. A more advanced level establishing a set of good practice guidelines and excellence requirements


WP 4. Pilot

Leader: OUNL (OTEC)

The objective of this Work Package is twofold;

The first aim is to try out the quality care framework developed in WP1 through WP 3 by using it in reviews of several institutions and programs.

These reviews will allow to realize the second aim of the WP namely to evaluate the practicability of the framework.

Central questions in the pilot are:

-does the quality care system offer a sound and useful evaluation framework for assessing e-leaning quality?

-can the tool be used as a starting point for evaluation to advise organizations on quality improvement?

-can the tool be used as a frame of reference in an institutional review or a program review, in the context of accreditation?


WP 4 activities are:

1)Training of at least 3 different teams of evaluators as visitation- or review committee for e-learning quality. Composition e-learning specialist, content specialists and new players.

2)Specification of the institutional and program reviews

a) Selection of the programmes and institutions to be visited.

b) Specification of the evaluation questions regarding the usefulness of the quality care system

3)Visitation of institutions and programs. The teams will use the quality care framework in different settings. The programmes and the organisations will be advised on the way to improve e-learning quality.

4)Description of the results of the pilot; conclusions of the pilot will focus on the validity of the quality system, the usability of the system, proposals for amelioration of the quality care system, possibilities and conditions for advice on improvement of e-learning.

5)The pilot will offer input for WP5, by writing a handbook directed to organisations and programs who want to evaluate their e-learning quality, and to members of visitation or review committees


WP 5. Dissemination and follow up

Leader: EADTU

EADTU will develop a promotion and publication plan for the project. The promotion and dissemination plan will give an overview of the activities that will support communication to raise awareness and interest for the E-xcellence project.

The promotion plan foresees activities to identify the different target groups, objectives of dissemination, explanation of strategies and a palette of promotional tools like leaflet, Website, (Conference)Posters, publications, handbook etc.


Expected results

  • List of criteria for e-learning. Setting standards of excellence and indicators for validation
  • Pilot: testing the validation approach; establishment and training of a visitation committee both for quality assurance and accreditation (to be seen as distinct procedures)
  • Manual on Good-Practices / Web-based guide of good practices
  • Quality care system (internal validation based on the standard of excellence)