Contemporary Trends in Quality Assurance in Distance Education
With the emergence of day-by-day increasing distance learning institutions worldwide, the question of quality assurance (QA) in distance education (DE) needs to be addressed at appropriate level. The objective of this paper was to examine various QA practices undertaken by several QA regulatory bodies and existing models in distance and online education being followed globally. The researcher undertook extensive review of related literature pertaining to QA practices worldwide to reach at a common ground that how a DE institution be dealt in relation to its QA needs. The paper highlighted that prevailing QA models in distance and online learning have been developed in response to specific demands of stakeholders to ensure transparency and improved attention towards learning outcomes, that means a single model is not likely to fulfil the needs of all stakeholders. The paper also emphasised that it will neither be appropriate nor admissible to prefer and recommend one system of QA to another since the selection mostly depends on the efficacy and relevance of model to the specific needs, aims and maturity of educational institutions. In addition, the paper provided a comparative review of research on the effectiveness of QA practices in DE. Some recent studies reviewed in this paper highlighted the similar nature of benchmarks or dimensions for an external QA system for distance and online programs with minor variations on account of institutional local needs. However, due to technological developments external QA instruments may need revision to deal current standards and best practices.
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