1 Mediterranean University, Faculty for Information Technology (MONTENEGRO)
2 University of Belgrade, FON - School of Business Administration (SERBIA)
3 FON University, Faculty of Communication and IT (MACEDONIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2011 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Pages: 3064-3073
ISBN: 978-84-615-3324-4
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 4th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 14-16 November, 2011
Location: Madrid, Spain
Benchmarking is “The process of comparing one's business processes and performance metrics to industry bests and/or best practices from other industries. Dimensions typically measured are quality, time, and cost. Improvements from learning mean doing things better, faster, and cheaper.”Benchmarking involves management identifying the best firms in their industry, or any other industry where similar processes exist, and comparing the results and processes of those studied (the "targets") to one's own results and processes to learn how well the targets perform and, more importantly, how they do it.

As a management tool, benchmarking has been applied in many areas of business. However, it is only in 2005-06 that there has been immense growth in its application specifically to university use of educational technology, initially in New Zealand, then in Europe including the UK under the auspices of the Higher Education Academy and most recently spreading to the US.
Nowadays, it is understood that each university offering distance learning (DL) programs should adopt a benchmarking system as a part of its DL quality assurance (QA) procedures. Any such a benchmarking system assumes a specific benchmarking model/approach and a set of associated tools that support the benchmarking process. A benchmarking model/approach must cover three essential elements (and provide an associated sets of indicators): a structural element – based on ‘enablers’; a practice element – based on work; and a performance element – based on outcomes and impacts.

This paper reviews international and EU benchmarking approaches, models, and tools developed so far and how they can be applied in the higher education (HE) institution who are starting to provide e-learning courses. Special attention is given to benchmarking tools covering pedagogical, organizational and technical frameworks and their potential use in Western Balkan countries, since these studies are established under the framework of the Tempus project “Enhancing quality of Distance Learning at Western Balkan Higher Education Institutions” and are delivered online (

The analysis of main features of number of benchmarking approaches, models, and tools reveals that they are not equivalent, as they do not operate at the same level, and in that sense, they could be in place simultaneously in the same institution. Based on this, it is argued that it is possible to combine issues from several approaches and tailor them to fit the needs of a specific HE institution. These benchmarking approaches could be taken as complementary and offering distinctive mechanisms by which HE institution who are starting to provide e-learning courses could tackle the quality assurance of their e-learning provision.
In addition, it is also possible to use tailored versions of tools developed for use within a specific approach/methodology, such as QuickScan and SEVAQ+.
e-learning benchmark, quality assurance, benchmark models, e-learning evaluation, benchmark tools.