Fold-back: Using emerging technologies to move from quality assurance to quality enhancement
Emerging technologies offer an opportunity for the development, at the institutional level, of quality processes with greater capacity to enhance learning in higher education than available through current quality processes. These systems offer the potential to extend use of learning analytics in institutional-level quality processes in addition to the widespread focus on business analytics, and to deliver well-constructed mixes of information from different data sources. Borrowed from music amplification, the term fold-back is proposed as a way to describe such a mix. This paper begins the design-research project of designing effective fold-back systems by expanding the theoretical assumptions about learning embedded in higher education quality processes. A number of theories building on Vygotsky’s cultural-historical approach are discussed to imagine quality in higher education in terms of what students actually do and how they engage in addition to what the institution does. The discussion is summarised in a fold-back matrix capturing the sorts of evaluation questions the systems might address. The paper concludes by providing two initial design sketches for re-purposing emerging technologies with the capacity to support expanded quality processes in education. These sketches are based on the Experience Application Programming Interface (xAPI) and Dedoose technologies.
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