On 30 January 2007, in Paris, during iLearning Forum, the European Foundation for Quality in E-Learning (EFQUEL) will present the first eQuality Awards - recognising the innovation by organisations in using digital technologies to support quality in learning processes.
There are currently many different systems of quality assurance in the field of learning and learning technologies. However, while a lot of focus has been placed on the quality of using technologies in the formal learning process, very little attention has been given to the ability of technologies to support the quality of all forms of learning, formal and informal, independently of the role of technologies in the delivery process. A learning process might be 100% face to face, using chalk blackboards, while technology is still being used to track the information relevant to the quality assurance of both processes.
This is where the concept of eQuality becomes operational to support quality of all forms of learning - face to face or at a distance, formal and informal, synchronous or asynchronous, using digital or physical technologies, in any kind of combination - looking not just at how technologies can support existing quality schemes, but also transform them to align with the needs of a knowledge economy and society.
The objective of the EFQUEL eQuality Award is to provide a framework for the use of digital technologies in the management of quality assurance processes, making the quality process an organic part of organisational learning activities. It aims at providing recognition to the providers of eQuality solutions and systems as well as to organisations implementing eQuality systems.
eQuality is about the use of ICT to improve the quality and organisational relevance of
Emerging eQuality Platforms
Recent years have seen an emerging number of eQuality platforms, and systems. Most of them operate in a specific context, such as schools, higher education or training.
Based on the analysis of existing products, here are some of the services provided by such platforms:
· Undertake a moderated organisation's self-review
· Align department or program objectives to institutional /department goals, courses level outcomes and external goals
· Self-evaluation by middle managers
· Elicit emerging issues from self-review to define priorities for improvement
· Embed organisation's priorities in team improvement plans
· Create improvement plans per domain
· Offer a current profile of the organisation and its community
· Management of assessment plans.
· Documenting the impact of assessment on learning programmes
· Identification of learning programmes strengths and weaknesses
· Recording and follow up of corrective action needed
· Management of quantitative & qualitative individual learners and group data, including individual ePortfolio evidence
There are many examples of how digital technology enables organisations and communities to manage quality of learning as a learning experience itself, an organisational learning experience. While individual learning benefits from the support of an individual ePortfolio, the organisational learning experience driven by quality leads to the constitution of an organisational ePortfolio to which all the members of the learning community, including the learners – some solutions include evidence extracted from individual ePortfolios to build organisations ePortfolios. In some countries, thousands of schools have already used such eQuality systems – although they don't necessary use the term eQuality – in order to measure and improve the quality of the education provision though ICT.
Who can apply to the Award?
We encourage all organisations providing or using technology to support learning quality assurance and innovation to apply for the EFQUEL eQuality award.
The Award will be given to given to:
- Providers of eQuality solutions and systems – the EFQUEL eQuality Award is delivered to providers of eQuality systems in order to develop the market for digital technologies supporting quality as an organisational learning and transformative process.
- Users and implementers of eQuality solutions and systems – eQuality Award is delivered to organisations (schools, universities, communities, learning providers, museums etc.) to recognise their efforts in using digital technologies to increase the efficiency of the quality assurance system and to make quality an organisational learning process.
So, if you are a training or a learning technology provider, a large corporation or an SME, a school, school district or a university, a local or regional authority, you can apply for the Award.
What are the conditions to qualify for the Award?
If your organisation uses technology, one way or another, to support the quality of the learning process, you may qualify for the eQuality Award. Remember, eQuality is about using technologies to support quality in all the learning processes, formal and informal, individual and organisational, face to face or at a distance.
You will find annexed to this document the EFQUEL eQuality Maturity Cycle. This comprehensive framework has been designed to help your organisation to position itself against a set of emerging practices. The framework is inclusive, helping every organisation to find in its current practice some existing elements that match the eQuality Maturity Cycle.
Don't let the eQuality Maturity Cycle comprehensiveness prevent your organisation from applying. As we said earlier, eQuality is an emerging technology and practice; therefore there will be very few organisations that will be able to rate themselves as "Embedded / advanced" or "established" on all criteria.
If you can find a few places where your organisation is in "early stages / awareness" or "Developing / commitment", and you plan to increase your commitment to using ICT to support quality of all learning experiences, then you should apply.
Here are examples of organisations that qualify for the award:
- A training organisation has implemented a space where it collects the feedback from its clients on its portal. The use of online forms has improved the quality of the training provision
- A school has implemented ePortfolios to document the progress of its pupils.
- A SME has implemented a tracking system for the annual appraisal and the planning of competency development.
- A school district has implemented an online review system to measure the alignment of the different schools against the local and regional policies and improve their accountability
- A publisher of learning resources has implemented a portal to collect experience of use of the resources to facilitate the exchange of (good) practices across the users of the learning material and collect their feedback
Why should I apply? What are the benefits?
Application to the eQuality Award is an opportunity for your organisation to reflect on its current practice in using technology to support the quality of its learning. It is also the opportunity to join a growing number of organisations from all sectors that are implementing ICT to support the improvement of the management of the quality assurance process.
With the support of the experts and the community of the Foundation, applying to the award will be an opportunity to get feedback on your plans for the future.
How to apply?
You can apply by registering on the conference website in order to submit an abstract -- use "eQuality Award" caterogy.
(create an account, submit the contribution and register to the Gala Dinner for the Awards ceremony)
A form has also been provided next page with the basic information required to process your application. One important element of the application is the evidence supporting your claims regarding the use made of ICT to support the quality of the learning processes. The eQuality Maturity Cycle provided in annex should help you in defining the areas where you organisation is or plans to be excellent in the near future.
How will our proposal be assessed?
The EFQUEL award is given to organisations if they are showing outstanding performance in eQuality. Applications will be awarded by a jury on basis of the guiding criteria of the EFQUEL eQuality Maturity Cycle. The EFQUEL eQuality Maturity Cycle has been designed in order to provide an inclusive framework for self-assessment of organisations that are willing to measure how advanced they are in the use of ICT to support the learning processes within their organisations, as well as a reference for the jury that will deliver the EFQUEL eQuality Award.
A list of nominees will be announced by the board of the Foundation.
How will it be delivered?
The EFQUEL eQuality Award will be delivered during the Gala Dinner of the 2nd iLearning Forum, on Tuesday 30 January 2007. Registration for the gala dinner is mandatory to receive the Award. If for due to unforeseen circumstances, the nominee can not attend, with the agreement of EFQUEL board, the nominee can nominate a member of the Foundation as representative during the ceremony.
Registration to the gala dinner: www.conftool.net/ilearningforum/