Keeping Step with the times: The culture of Quality at the University of the West Indies, Open Campus
The growth of information and communication technology worldwide has facilitated the creation of classrooms without walls and universities without borders. The reaffirmation of UNESCO’s goal of ‘Education for all by 2015’ in Dakar brought many of the challenges for developing countries to the fore and raised the question of our collective abilities to reach the goal for our respective countries. One item from the Dakar framework, which resonate with educators globally is, “Ensuring that the learning needs of all young people and adults are met through equitable access to appropriate learning and life skills programmes .” Keeping step with the times, The University of the West Indies (UWI), through its virtual Open Campus (OC), has aligned its strategic objective of excellence to “…provide multiple, flexible paths for all constituencies to pursue tertiary education over their lifetime ” with the Dakar framework for action. This article is predicated on a quality framework established within the UWIOC at the start of the academic year 2012/13. It draws on the processes used with online educators while the university restructured its quality assurance (QA) procedures. I will discuss how a quality framework might affect instructional practices in distance education while broadening the understanding of what it means to facilitate focused student engagement. Data for the study will be generated through multiple methods: ethnographic observations; focus group interviews and document and artefact collection – reports on the use of two monitoring instruments. I will analyse key components of the OC quality structure; quality context issues and their contribution to success; and essential principles for ongoing assessment and planning to maintain the cycle. I will examine the possible effects of the changes, if any, through a practice-oriented perspective on quality amidst changes occurring within the UWI’s virtual campus. I will also consider how the process of increased monitoring and accountability works towards quality improvement. Key findings will be presented using graphic and narrative presentations supported by literature in the area of institutional quality. // Paper ID: 177
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