One of the initiatives which leadership should pay particular attention in order to develop and maintain quality standards for e-learning is to establish a list of best practices and guidelines for online courses (WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies, 2013). These best practices and guidelines will provide necessary benchmarks for addressing quality in designing and teaching online courses. Quality benchmarks will inform the stakeholders about what worked in the course, what areas need more improvements, and what was missed during the course design phase. From my experience, Quality Matters rubric for online course design for higher education contains a comprehensive list of quality standards; hence, effective course design should consider similar quality standards before implementing the course.
Moreover, it would be a good practice to include few quality aspects when assessing an online course (Ossiannilsson & Landgren, 2012). Students would benefit from online courses when quality aspects are included during course evaluation because these aspects are “seen to a great extent from the students’ perspective and with regard to their involvement, and not from a more technical point of view or from the perspective of the university’s management” (Ossiannilsson & Landgren, 2012). E-learning quality model presented by Ossiannilsson & Landgren (2012) outlines ten important quality aspects which leadership should take into account when developing online learning environment.
Lastly, in order to maintain quality standards for e-learning, leadership should also pay particular attention to providing support for faculty in terms of professional development or one-on-one support for instructors. According to Forssman (2013), faculty drop-in centers can provide one-on-one support for instructors who need assistance in integrating educational technologies in their online courses. Although these drop-in centers do not provide formal training to the faculty, they still provide valuable resources and expert advice to instructors. However, this kind of support and assistance to the faculty requires a solid allocation of budget (Forssman, 2013). Hence, if an institution is faced with enormous budget cuts, would it be fair to run online programs without providing required support to the faculty? Would that also be fair to students if quality instruction is sacrificed because of insufficient budget for faculty support? These are some of the important questions which need to be considered when planning for particular online programs.
Forssman, V. (2013). Exploring leadership issues in educational technology implementation (D. MacLachlan, Interviewer)
. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ohOYOU1wK4&feature=youtu.be
Ossiannilsson, E. E., & Landgren, L. L. (2012). Quality in e-learning – a conceptual framework based on experiences from three international benchmarking projects. Journal Of Computer Assisted Learning, 28(1), 42-51. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2729.2011.00439.x
WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (2013). Managing Online Education 2013: Practices in ensuring Quality. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike license.