QUALITY MANAGEMENT IN EDUCATION: BUSINESS PROCESSES MODELLING IN INTERDISCIPLINARY ENVIRONMENTS
For a successful design of modern E-Learning-based education, it is inevitable to apply a holistic quality-concept on a general level, in order to ensure that processes related to planning, development, implementation, provision, and merchandizing are fully understood and harmonized across the whole supply chain. In order to ensure that all stakeholders in the supply chain work in unison and follow the same aim, proper descriptions of all basic processes are crucial to provide; particularly when an institution or organization plans to achieve a quality certification according to the ISO9001 standard.
What makes a proper and homogenous description of the very different kinds of processes on a general level very complicated in terms of the ISO9001, is the fact that many different stakeholders are involved in the creation and provision of educational services and contents. The related persons do not just represent various fields, types, and levels of education but within the different fields also different methodologies and models have been established to describe/represent processes. As for the practice, all these issues influence the level of acceptance related process representations.
In the context of “Open Discovery Space”, the largest educational project ever funded by the European Commission with 51 partners from more than 20 European countries and the scope to establish a Europe-wide central access and communication hub for Open Educational Resources and Practices in the school sector, we found it extremely difficult to use a common methodology to produce and provide process descriptions that were understandable for all of the consortium members. The contributing stakeholders, which ranged from technicians over teachers and academic staff to policy makers from ministries and international associations, had quite different ideas of what a process description should be like and their skills to understand formal, semi-formal and/or informal process descriptions and related models were differently developed: While some of the partners easily were able to cope with process descriptions basing on standard “tools” like pseudo code, XML, Entity Relationship Diagrams, flow charts, GANTT charts, neuronal networks, etc., others experienced vast difficulties, particularly when several diagram-types had jointly to be analysed in order to get an impression of the full picture. The situation was even worse, when they had to use related standardized tools in order to describe their own processes.
In order to ensure the successful cooperation in this interdisciplinary team, we developed an easy-to-use instrument for process modelling, which covered the very different cases in our context and provided outcomes that included all information on a glance which were relevant for a basic understanding. We implemented our methodology in an MS PowerPoint-based environment (which all knew to use) and successfully used it during the last three years of project work. Besides the work in educational projects, we found that our methodology perfectly fits to describe the schedule for course-production and implementation, so that it directly can be used to support organizations and institutions on their way to achieve the ISO9001 certification.
In our contribution, we will introduce the theoretical background and practical use of our freely accessible MS PowerPoint-based process modelling tool on the basis of the use-case “Open Discovery Space”.