Open and Distance Learning Quality Assurance in Commonwealth Universities: A Report and Recommendations for QA and Accreditation Agencies and Higher Education Institutions
The issue of quality in open and distance learning (ODL) remains a major concern. Inadequate quality assurance (QA) measures, policies and systems render the credibility of ODL provision questionable. The Commonwealth of Learning (COL) is at the forefront of promoting quality ODL and over the years has developed several toolkits, guidelines and monographs, as well as a microsite of web links on QA, to help Commonwealth countries benefit from credible and qualitatively comparable ODL models. COL’s Review and Improvement Model (COL RIM) has assisted at least 13 institutions with integrating QA into their systems and processes. As quality is a matter of continuous relevance, COL commissioned a study to investigate the state of QA in open higher education institutions in the Commonwealth. This report offers some key insights and findings on how QA is currently being practiced in open universities in the Commonwealth, from the perspectives of policy makers, leaders and practitioners in open and distance education institutions. The lessons show that whilst the importance of QA is accepted as a strategic value by all, the standards of practice, criteria and measures differ considerably. There is also a growing concern over QA in new forms of teaching and learning, including eLearning, open educational resources and massive open online courses.