ASCILITE Quality Online Learning Assessment, Accreditation and Recognition
There has been a significant rise in the facilitation of online learning. It is estimated that 5.8 million students are enrolled in online courses, which represents a 263% increase over a period of twelve years. Further 77% of institutions have acknowledged that online learning is crucial to their long-term strategy. Meghan Bogardus Cortez, an associate editor with EdTech: Focus on Higher Education, highlights the need for quality to expand with the increase in online learning.
Various endeavours and initiatives have been established such as scorecards and rubrics, to evaluate the quality of online learning and provide guidance in the development and enhancement of online learning environments. Professional associations, such as the Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education (ASCILITE) have a major role to play in regard to assuring the quality of online learning in higher education.
This ASCILITE initiative, which is referred to as TELAS (Technology Enhanced Learning Accreditation Standards), seeks to introduce an internationally benchmarked accreditation scheme that will assess, assure, certify and recognize the quality of online learning.
The TELAS has been developed across a number of phases including:
- Phase 1 resulted in the production of a draft accreditation framework, which will be the basis for conducting the quality assessment of online learning.
- Phase 2 was significantly informed by the TELAS Strategic Advisory Group and a National Summit involving key Australasian senior higher education leaders, resulting in the further refinement of the draft accreditation framework, identification of possible performance measures, and conceptualization of the accreditation process and resourcing.
- Phase 3 saw the facilitation of extensive stakeholder consultation through consultative workshops with Educational Technology practitioners and an online survey with higher education practitioners. This consultation was the vehicle by which the accreditation framework was finalized, measures of performance suitable for each of the criteria in the Accreditation Framework were identified, quality indicators that would inform the assessment of online learning were ascertained and administrative and organisational details of the formal accreditation process were conceptualised.
- Phase 4 will see the introduction of the TELAS online accreditation portal for institutions to have their online courses assessed by TELAS Certified Reviewers. TELAS Reviewer workshops designed to train and accredit assessors to formally evaluate the quality of online learning under the auspice of the TELAS will also be scheduled during this phase.
- Raise awareness of good practices transpiring in the integration of technology enhanced learning across the tertiary sector.
- Assure the quality of online learning transpiring across the tertiary sector.
- Encourage and motivate excellence in the utilisation of digital technologies in tertiary learning and teaching.
- Promote and recognise exemplary innovation and practice in the sustainable use of educational technologies to progress pedagogical practice.
- Externally validate online learning and provide a measure of performance that could be benchmarked and compared broadly across the global higher education sector.
- Enhance ASCILITE’s reputation as Australasia’s foremost community, leading and advocating for excellence in the use of digital technologies in tertiary learning and teaching.
- Promote ASCILITE’s relevance with senior leaders, particularly in the Australasian tertiary education sector.
Strategies for achieving TELAS Aims
- Develop a validated Accreditation Framework that provides criteria to assess and guide the quality of online learning.
- Conceptualise a process that can be formally implemented to:
– Assess and accredit online learning against the Accreditation Framework.
– Award accreditation standards to formally assessed online learning.
– Provide teaching and learning practitioners and institutional leaders with feedback, recommendations and a guide for the enhancement of assessed online learning.
- Design and develop a software application to support the:
– Implementation of the assessment, accreditation and recognition
– Dissemination, sustainability and advancement of excellence in the use of digital technologies to progress pedagogical practice;
– Promotion and recognition of excellence in online learning practice.
- Create a network of champions to promote and progress this initiative.
- Generate a comprehensive strategy for the implementation and operationalisation of the standards.
In the longer term, the aim is to introduce a global benchmarking of accredited online learning with potential partnerships in the USA, UK, Ireland and Europe. The proposition being investigated is for partners to facilitate a similar accreditation process in their region with the results saved to a global course and accreditation database and used to provide benchmarks of where assessed online learning is positioned locally, nationally and internationally.
1 Available at https://edtechmagazine.com/higher/article/2016/06/students-and-higher-ed-leaders-put-their-faith-online-classes-infographic
2 Available at http://www.edtechmagazine.com/higher/article/2017/01/your-university-s-online-course-code/
3 OLC Quality Scorecard Suite available at https://onlinelearningconsortium.org/consult/olc-quality-scorecard-suite/
4 Quality Matters Rubric available at https://www.qualitymatters.org/qa-resources/rubric-standards/higher-ed-rubric