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How does the quality debate relate to the nature of the student experience online?

Catherine McLoughlin
Australian Catholic University, Canberra
One perspective in the current quality debate is that the rise of the virtual learner is a search for quality and personal satisfaction in learning. This accords with quality principles of quality management which is person-centred and concerned about user satisfaction. While there may be many questions about the effectiveness and learning gains achieved through online learning, there are also well-founded research conclusions that it achieves higher student satisfaction and levels of engagement. In addition, there is a growing understanding of the factors that affect learner success in online learning and also a burgeoning of evaluation instruments that focus on the quality of the student learning experience.

This paper addresses current definitions of quality in online design and examines emerging expectations of what constitutes a good online experience. Examples of learning environments and Web-based assessment frameworks are presented which present multiple perspectives on instructional design and assessment for student centred learning. As the dynamics of quality assurance in online distance education continue to evolve, there will remain a need to evaluate design and delivery options for students. Directions for a future research agenda focussed on a culture of evidence are presented.

Please cite as: McLoughlin, C. (2003). How does the quality debate relate to the nature of the student experience online? In Partners in Learning. Proceedings of the 12th Annual Teaching Learning Forum, 11-12 February 2003. Perth: Edith Cowan University. http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf2003/abstracts/mcloughlin-abs.html

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Last revision: 24 Jan 2003. This URL: http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf2003/abstracts/mcloughlin-abs.html