Assessing the need for a quality framework designed specifically for managing the provision of online distance education in developing countries

Inglis, Alistair
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Quality assurance and quality improvement processes employ quality frameworks to ensure comprehensive coverage of the factors affecting students’ experiences of learning. The importance of quality frameworks has increased with the shift to online delivery of courses. // A number of quality frameworks for use in quality management in relation to delivery of courses online at a distance may be found in the educational literature. However, most of these frameworks have been designed for use in a developed country context. Such frameworks may not be suitable for use in a developing country context where factors such as the robustness of the communications infrastructure, capacity of teachers to use technology, students’ access to technology, the affordability of technology, and a range of other factors can have a much greater impact on students’ learning experiences. // Designing a new quality framework for use specifically in a developing country context is a substantial project. Before embarking on such an enterprise one needs to be satisfied that existing frameworks are unsuitable for the task and that adapting an existing framework would not offer a most cost-effective solution than moving on to the development of a new framework. // This paper draws on the research literature to identify the range of known challenges faced in delivering programs by online distance education in a developing country context. It then examines the extent to which a number of existing quality frameworks capture information on institutional performance in relation to these challenges. Finally, it considers whether a case can be made for development of a new quality framework specifically designed for use in a developing country context.
Formal Education, Quality Assurance, Management, Developing World, Open and Distance Learning (ODL)