Strengthening and Sustaining Online and Blended Learning in the Aftermath of Covid-19 through Quality Assurance Measures: The Case of Public Higher Education Institutions in Mauritius

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Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

PCF10 Sub-theme: Building Resilience // COVID-19 has caused major disruptions in higher education systems worldwide. In Mauritius, during the 2020 and 2021 national lockdowns, local universities had to pivot to online/blended learning and emergency remote teaching. However, few higher education institutions (HEIs) in Mauritius were prepared for online learning, resorting mostly to emergency remote teaching. It was observed that there was a dearth of quality assurance guidelines and standards for Online/blended Learning, hence underlining the need to support HEIs in their transition from face-to-face to online delivery, while simultaneously upholding the quality of the programmes delivered. With funding from the Mauritius Research and Innovation Council (MRIC), a project was submitted jointly by the University of Mauritius and the Open University of Mauritius to help mitigate the impact of COVID‑19 on Mauritius’ higher education sector and its students, by providing short-term solutions in the form of quality assurance rubrics and an ODL handbook, so that HEIs can ensure the continuity of high-quality education with minimal disruptions during the pandemic and beyond. These tools were validated at national and institutional levels in order to capture specificities of the local context while meeting international standards (benchmarks). Based on interviews of key stakeholders, policy makers, CEOs of HEIs and the research team’s knowledge and experience in this field, a number of recommendations emerged. This paper will present the methodology, major findings, recommendations and tools developed under this project. It is also hoped that online learning becomes part and parcel of the DNA of HEIs, to build the robustness and resilience of their online learning provisions so that they can confidently face any future disruptions. // Paper ID 2963

Quality Assurance,Online Learning,Blended Learning,Models and Frameworks,Policies,Higher Education