E-QUALITY IN INFRASTRUCTURES FOR LEARNING IN HIGHER EDUCATION
Higher Education has through the last decades been increasingly dependent on digital infrastructures (e.g. Svensson, 2002a; Guribye, 2005). The first generations of learning management systems (LMS) was originally designed to support distance education but quickly became the de-facto standard for supporting and developing also the practices of campus-based higher education. In this development we have noticed a tension between the desire to design closed LMS’s that aims at providing “all-inclusive-support” for university education and more open and flexible solutions that support open infrastructures for personal learning.
Consequently, it is time to re-visit the questions on what constitute the central values of a contemporary LMS seamlessly integrated with open digital infrastructures for learning. In an exploratory study in a Scandinavian University, a series of workshops and focus-group interviews with central informants from faculty as well as representatives from administrative support has addressed the issue of “E-Quality” in higher education. The result indicate that a set of inter-related core values should be stressed. These are briefly outlined below as principles for a framework of e-quality in higher education.
(i) The principle of open participation
An LMS should support flexible integration of Open Educational resources (OERs) provided by an open community. Furthermore, the system should invite open access for participants from the surrounding society (i.e. practitioners, students from other universities, and relevant special interest groups) (Berhardsson et al., 2017)
(ii) The principle of collaborative creation
An LMS should embrace the notion of students as co-producers of instruction, content and learning outcomes. In particular, it should support collaborative authoring and peer-to-peer sharing.
(iii) The principle of data-driven development
A central aspect is the ability to personalize the support for each individual participant, which could be addresses quantitatively through learning analytics (Vallo Hult et al., 2017) and qualitatively through the use of e-portfolios and study diaries.
(iv) The principle of work-integrated learning
Finally, all priciples should be aligned to support an overarching goal of reducing the borders between studies in higher education, the introduction to a professional career, and the lifelong learning required to develop professionally (Svensson 2004).
Further research will shed further light on the validity and the reliability of these principles, and set the path towards a nascent design theory for E-Quality in Digital Infrastructures for learning in Higher Education.