Leading the quality management of online learning environments in Australian higher education
The paper presents the findings of the first year of a nationally funded Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) project on the quality management of online learning environments by and through distributed leadership. The project is being undertaken by five Australian universities with major commitments to online and distance education. Each university, however, has a distinctive location, history and profile in the sector. The first year of the project has seen the development of a quality management framework with six interrelated elements. The framework is being applied, refined and validated in the second year of the project. Allied with the development of the framework, was the conduct of focus groups at each of the five partner institutions in the middle of the first year. These focus groups composed a range of staff involved collectively in the leadership of the organisation's online learning environment. Prominence was given to the nature and value of strategic planning, due diligence conducted in selecting and mainstreaming technologies, evaluation approaches informing decision making, and the various relationships between different leadership levels and domains. A number of key issues which emerged relating to the elements identified in the framework are examined.
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