Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Integrating the e- into learning - EFQUEL Innovation Forum 2013

Open University of Catalonia
This year's EFQUEL Innovation Forum 2013 was held at the Open University of Catalonia in Barcelona 26-27 September. This is always an enjoyable event and being on the EFQUEL board and the programme committee I am kept pretty busy before and during the conference. This year's conference had the theme Refocusing quality in e-learning and the aim of reviewing the progress made so far in defining quality in the field as well as examining quality criteria for new areas of open education, in particular MOOCs.

My highlights of the conference
  • We are at last moving from a divided view of quality in education (traditional/e-learning) to a single concept of learning and teaching. Representatives of the major European higher education organisations ENQAEUAEURASHE and ESUwere all active contributors and ready to start a common discussion about how the area of e-learning quality can be integrated into traditional quality assurance criteria for higher education. This feels like a major breakthrough and hopefully specialist e-learning quality organisations will be able to contribute actively to the development of mainstream quality assurance in higher education.
  • MOOCs have taken the discussion of e-learning into the spotlight and will force even the most traditional universities to review the way they use technology and focus on quality. Even if MOOCs are mostly about informal learning the hype has made universities think about how they work with online learning in general and MOOC lessons will be applied to campus courses.
  • The tyranny of university ranking systems that focus only on high profile research universities could soon be over as new more comprehensive ranking systems that include vital criteria such as quality of teaching, student satisfaction, internationalisation and regional engagement. One such system was highlighted in Barcelona, U-Multirank.
    MOOCathon in progress
  • The three session long MOOCathon that I ran together with my board colleagues Ulf Ehlers and Ebba Ossiannilsson was a success with all seats taken all the way. My fears that it would be like a real MOOC with standing room only at the start and then only a handful left at the end proved to be unfounded though we did have a number of participants who opted in and out during the day but the total number remained fairly constant. We are now compiling and reviewing all the ideas and comments from the session for a new post on the MOOC Quality Project site and hope to write an article about the whole process in the near future.
  • Isn't it time for us to review and redefine our own terminology? We all use terms like e-learning, net-based learning, distance learning, online learning, technology enhanced learning etc sometimes interchangeably. If we are not clear about what we mean it's no wonder that other people get confused. Let's work together and define our terminology. At the same time I hope we can soon dump MOOC as a confusingly all-embracing term for many different types of learning arena.

Main conference hall
Some good quotes

  • How can openness contribute to a quality learning experience rather than be seen as a second rate option? - Ulf Ehlers, President EFQUEL.
  • The quality of online education and provisions are pivotal to the quality of an institution - Josep Planell, Vice Chancellor Open University of Catalonia.
  • MOOCs will lead to higher quality in for-credit university education.- Sir John Daniel, Commonwealth of Learning.
  • MOOCs can stimulate elearning if institutions develop policies for online teaching and execute them determinedly.- Sir John Daniel
  • Don’t assume that students are automatically attracted to online learning. They want something that will get them where they want to go. - Sir John Daniel
  • Recognition of prior experiential learning must be included in QA.- Guy Haug
  • E-learning is not the revolution. The real revolution is in teaching. - Josep Grifoll, ENQA
  • National QA Agencies don't consider e-learning priority, since its not in legislation. - Josep Grifoll
  • Quality Assurance labels should be included in EQAR together with QAAs. - Josep Griffoll
  • There is no such thing as the best car, wine or university in the world - Jon File, U-Multirank
  • The digital revolution in education is actually about moving to choice based education - are we fit for the choice based mode? - Antonio Teixeira, President EDEN

  • Let's hope the momentum can be maintained and we can have more detailed discussions next year when we meet in Crete, 7-9 May.

    I also made a Scoopit magazine for the conference with many of the presentations and related articles as well as a selection of mini interviews I did with some of the key speakers and other participants.

    1 comment:

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