Universität Duisburg-Essen (GERMANY)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN09 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Pages: 2757-2765
ISBN: 978-84-612-9801-3
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 1st International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2009
Location: Barcelona ,Spain
This paper describes and reflects different processes of quality management in the e-learning business. It is based on the implementation of the European e-learning marketplace “Columbus-Portal” which was developed in the project “Electronic Learning and Assistance Network” (ELAN) funded by the European Commission (eTen-programme).

The ELAN approach to Quality Management assesses quality of online-courses from a learner's perspective. Hence the online-course alone does not imply an inherent quality, but the quality concerning learning emerges from the process of usage. From a quality management perspective, an on-line course is appropriate if it meets the individual interests, needs and preconditions of the learner. For this reason quality is determined by the characteristics of the online-course in relation to the characteristics of the learner: The learner plays a decisive role and becomes a co-producer of quality.

Therefore integrating quality management in an e-learning portal is a complex and challenging process. To guarantee a high quality of the published courses different methods are combined:

1.General support of authors:
Every author who creates an online-course is supported by an on-line course on quality (CQ), which is based on a Relational Quality Criteria Catalogue (RQCC), which was developed withing the project. Aditionally the author is supported by a course on how to use specific authoring tools.

2.Course evaluation:
The created on-line course is evaluated against the RQCC by a team of experts. If the course is evaluated as appropriate in relation to its target-group, it is published on the Columbus-Portal. If the course is evaluated as not appropriate, it is sent back to the author with a detailed feedback containing suggestions how to increase the quality of the course.
In order to avoid intransparency of quality judgements, the author can fall back on the CQ, which explains the applied quality criteria.

3.Learner feedback to author:
In the Columbus-Portal, every published course is provided with a forum as a general possibility of detailed feedback (e.g. questions and critique). Refering to the learner feedback, the author can improve the quality of his course. Futhermore based on the questions of learners, frequently asked questions (FAQ) can be documented.

4.Learner feedback to quality assurance team
After completing an on-line course, the learner can fill-in a questionnaire to feedback his detailed personal evaluation of the course. In addition the learner can use a system of stars to rate the course in a general way.

5.Comparing learner and expert evaluation
The aggregated data on course evaluation of the learners is compared to the evaluation of the expert group (see 2). The result of this comparison is sent as a feedback to the author and is furthermore used for validating and refining the RQCC in a process of self-evaluation. This process of self-evaluation leads to a constant improvement of quality assurance.

In this paper, the workflow of quality management will be presented and discussed. The main outcome is a detailed and empirically tested concept of quality management processes embedded in a business marketplace.
quality management, evaluation, e-learning, work flow, on-line course.