Reflections on Quality Assurance in Open Distance Learning
Workshop on Performance Indicators for Quality Assurance in Distance Higher Education, Colombo, Sri Lanka, 14-16 August 2007, Reflections on Quality Assurance in Open Distance Learning by Professor Mohan B. Menon, Commonwealth of Learning // Quality is a characteristic of the products and services an organisation offers. Quality in a higher education programme would thus mean quality of graduates it produces and quality of learning processes it provides for. Hence it is important to have the quality indicators related to the products and processes involved in higher education clearly formulated. Quality assurance (QA) is a process directed toward achieving that characteristic. It is the set of activities that an organisation undertakes to ensure that standards are specified and reached consistently for a product or service. Quality Assurance involves proactive measures taken to avoid faults while quality control (QC) involves reactive measures taken to remove faults and assessment of quality systems includes the monitoring, evaluation, and audit of procedures. A total quality management - internal and external will be a combined mechanism of quality assurance, quality control and continuous monitoring and evaluation (M&E) (Menon, 2004) // Any education programme irrespective of the mode would require a total quality management system involving quality assurance, quality control and continuous monitoring and evaluation. Quality indicators related to the products and processes are to be clearly defined and formulated for a TQM to be successful. There would be a set of QIs common across modes of higher education (face-to-face or ODL) while some QIs could be specific to each mode.