Evaluation and the development of quality learning materials
AbstractLearning materials development has traditionally been controlled by individual academics as distance education followed organisational models provided by traditional face to face teaching. Recent developments in both education and training have increased expectations of distance education. Increasing student participation rates, accessibility of higher education, increasing costs and exponential growth of knowledge are some factors that require development of innovative approaches to meet these expectations. Quality management literature suggests that these challenges may be met by a flexible but systematic, participative and team-based approach using quality improvement strategies. Developments in educational evaluation indicate that quality is promoted by an action-evaluation paradigm based on critical theory. Action evaluation promotes information gathering directed towards the making of specific decisions, a systems approach to evaluation, participative democracy in both decision making and evaluation and reflective practice. A marriage is proposed between action evaluation and quality management to guide the development of quality in distance education. Three strategies are suggested immediately: use of a team approach to materials development that is genuinely participative and democratic, collection of information about the quality of service provided to students in a way that promotes systematic improvement in the quality of that service and finally examination of all relevant aspects of educational services provided. This paper discusses the initial stages of the trial of such an approach as it is being developed within the Department of Mathematics and Computing at the University College of Central Queensland.
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