Using students' experiences to derive quality in an e-learning system: An institution's perspective

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Journal Article
Educational Technology and Society, 2007, 10 (2), pp. 17 - 33
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Higher education institutions undertake a range of approaches to evaluating and making judgments about the quality of their e-learning provision. This paper begins by exploring benchmarking as one current strategy in common use in universities to identify and implement quality practices: from the use of checklists (for example, of best practices and standards) to a more contemporary dynamic systems approach involving continuous cycles of feedback and improvement centred around the learners' experiences of elearning. These practices are influenced by the teachers' design of e-learning and emerging technologies as well as by the institutional and societal contexts in which both learners and teachers operate. We give an account of two major evaluation studies at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), utilising a systems approach to investigate the consequences of e-learning, and we inquire into the value of this particular institutional approach for deriving e-learning quality. We use selections from the large dataset to describe and analyse students' and teaching staffs experiences of an e-learning system (LMS) over a two-year period. Our findings reveal that learners' experiences warrant consideration in shaping future e-learning developments at UTS, and that students value e-learning in facilitating their access to education for making choices about their learning and for enabling engagement in collaborative and interactive learning activities, while they also recognise the current constraints on e-learning imposed by the developers of LMS technologies.
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