Friday, March 6, 2009

Importance of quality in e-learning

I have been doing a little surfing this week, trying to find perspectives on quality in e-learning....and there is certainly a lot of discussion out there. But even after trawling and reviewing, I think I am in more of a position to tell you what it is not, rather than to tell you what it is and thereby being able to articulate a position on its importance.....

Let me give you a comparison...

try this:

You should find 9 characteristics of quality e-learning from the Concord Consortium who, have been researching teaching and experiencing e-learning for 15 years and are certainly in a position then to suggest elements of quality in this context. I like their thoughts. Some of these characteristics I identify with fom the perspective of an e-learner and would agree that yes, they do make the experience facilitation, explicit schedules, high quality materials....and from my (brief) e-learning teaching experience I would also agree with other aspects like ongoing assessment, limited enrolment etc..

Compare then, with the application, articulate (available at and there is a 30 day free trial) who say that you can create e-learning in 10 minutes. Well it took me 5 hours (please don't laugh!) and it's still not right, but I do like to think I aspired to creating a quality product for subsequent evaluation....... I even found myself a willing volunteer for that part when I get there (my office mate)....anyway....

I just really got the feeling that the goals of these two were different, but strangely somehow similar. Articulate do aspire to quality in e-learning in many ways......they want your product to look good (and for US$1800 for the software, it ought to!!) and for individuals to engage...they want your company to be able to deliver on time, in time education. They offer a means to have ongoing assessment, explcit schedules and high quality (looking) materials.....and they will even give you some webspace to start your own (VERY basic) LMS. So what's wrong?

We are careering through an e-learning revolution where people are making a great deal of money selling ( heck I really want to say exploiting) on-line learning. Using software like articulate you can set yourself up in a heartbeat. Take nursing for example......Nursing Council requires that all nurses can demonstrate 60 hours of professional development every three years.It doesn't seem to matter much how you achieve that on-line material is fair game. If i'd had a spare few grand I could have been in business by now potentially earning well off the back of professional knowledge and a bit of IT why wouldn't you? ......back in a minute, just off to the bank....

Nah, only kidding!!!

I have come across the term rapid e-learning and I can only think that being able to throw up on-line material is what this means ( I am happy to be dis-abused of this notion however!) But what's missing is the pedagogy to start and run with and the evaluation that you have actually done what Gagne begged of us all those years ago, 'a change in behaviour' and that you do it as Ausubel would entreat a meaningful way. So for me, quality in e-learning is about the strength of your systems and processes...yes the Dunkin and Biddle process-product, but taking account of all of those really important things that contribute to the whole meaningful learning experience and ultimately, positively impacting where it counts for you. This is the difference and, I guess the point that the Concord Consortium are making. Quality e-learning is a thoughtful, proactive process, leading to learners who reap the benefits developmentally and intellectually. This way they will keep coming back not desert for the next cool thing that superficially meets a need. I hope......



  1. Hi Sam,

    I am looking for info about elearning characters compared with f2f courses. And soooo happy that you provide a link here in ur blog.

    Unfortunately when I tried to read the info I cant open the linked file :-(

  2. Hi Joy
    sorry about that....if you google Concord consortium and quality elearning you should get hooked in.....sam