1 McGraw Hill Education (MEXICO)
2 Universidad Panamericana (MEXICO)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN15 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Pages: 6335-6344
ISBN: 978-84-606-8243-1
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 7th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2015
Location: Barcelona, Spain
The purpose of this study is to unravel those visual, technological, managing, teaching and learning factors that enable students to learn and earn a degree through Distance Education, In this context, Distance Education is defined as " ... a technological, multidirectional , communication system, based on the joint actions of physically separated teachers and students, that offers learning resources, support and mentoring to students, fostering in them, independent learning “ (García2001:39) And it should be added to this definition: With the encouragement of cooperative learning, which today is at the core of Distance Learning. Innovation is precisely a feature of the education that relies on technology. Adding continually new possibilities, constitutes a challenge, that implies the redefinition of processes involved, especially when trying to define which is a good distance program and which one, is not.

As in traditional learning, the focus should be on student learning; however, as Silvio (2006: 2) has pointed out “Virtual or distance education is composed of immaterial and intangible objects whose product is knowledge, acquired by people in formal or informal settings , with different degrees of formality” He uses the term object in a very broadly sense, referring to materials such course content, sequences, interactive devices, information resources and other human production whose quality can be subject to evaluation.

Evaluation definitely implies the consideration of indicators or quantitative instances of qualitative attributes, where comparisons could be made and also applied as guidance to monitor the curriculum, the scope, sequence and design of educational activities designed to obtain knowledge in a particular area. Under these considerations, the present study is based on the perceptual evaluation of users of an online Master’s program and the judgment of a group of experts, whose assessment helped us to prioritize and single out the essential quality indicators for an online program.

Some of the questions addressed in the study are: How important is the instructional design?; How is learning affected by the technological capabilities?; Is the teacher performance the most important variable? Is quality determined by the amount of interactions between instructor and student? Is the course’s content at the core of quality? What is the importance of instructional design and learning objects in the overall perception of quality? To respond to these inquiries a research was conducted in two stages: First, a satisfaction questionnaire was administered to 116 students enrolled in an online Masters’ program. Findings on users’ perceptions and indicators suggested by the Literature Review, were used to develop a comprehensive list of items that were weighted by 50 experts in technology and Distance Learning. The result is a 45 item rubric distributed among four dimensions (Students, Teachers, Instructional Design and Technological Capabilities) that can be used as a practical and comprehensive format to assess the quality of online programs.
Distance learning, quality indicators, higher education, graduate programs.