Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Towards US Online Quality Assurance: What are the Policy Issues?

Just returned from two presentations in Hong Kong about models for developing and evaluating quality e-learning to see the US College Presidents Forum at Excelsior College, a meeting to discuss state policy barriers to a U.S. Quality Assurance System for online learning.

While all accrediting regions have adopted WICHE/WCET's Best Practices for the Delivery of Online Degrees and Programs, the way they play out vary.

This 2005 sampling presents how state policies express the implementation of the WICHE/WCET standards. Montana's appear to be the most explicit. In reviewing these sites for updates, some of these links are no longer available (like MT, for example). If you have updates you would like to share in email, that would be most appreciated.

Examples of States within a defined Accreditation Region

Accrediting Region

State Policy Incorporating WICHE-WCET/ CHEA DE Practices at State Higher Education Policy Level

Expressed State Policy Elements Responsive to WICHE-WCET/WICHE Standards


North Central (NCA)

Montana (1999): Htm.

All WICHE/WICHE Standards are expressed in the Faculty and Course Management and Support sections under IV. Standards and Conditions, Policy 303.7, Delivery of Instruction via Telecommunication.


Southern (SACS)

Kentucky (1998):

As directly quoted from Kentucky’s site (1998,“Guiding Principles”):

  • Implement the vision, goals, and objectives of the statewide strategic agenda for postsecondary education.
  • Recognize institutional missions and their respective strategic plans.
  • Effectively and efficiently utilize existing resources, including faculty, services, and information technology, to accomplish its goals.
  • Capitalize on and create synergies among the educational resources and services of in-state institutions, both public and independent.
  • Use regional, national, and international resources to meet the needs of students that cannot be met by in-state institutions.
  • Use available state resources, including public schools, in the delivery of post-secondary education.
  • Develop importing and outsourcing options where appropriate. Use educational best practices across the country and globe to conceptualize, develop, deliver, and evaluate instruction, student services, and faculty development.
  • Respond promptly to demonstrated needs for programs and courses by providing instruction, learning resources, and student services where and when needed.
  • Respond promptly to demonstrated needs for programs and courses by providing instruction, learning resources, and student services where and when needed.
  • Promote faculty and staff reward and recognition systems that value innovative uses of alternative delivery systems.
  • Recognize, evaluate and, where appropriate and feasible, adopt state-of-the-art technologies and processes that can best serve Kentucky's needs.
  • Integrate, to the maximum extent possible, assessment of the KYVU with the CPE's existing accountability and comprehensive data base systems.
  • Address intellectual property and copyright issues.
  • Produce high quality student learning.


North Eastern (NE

RI (1997):

Expresses the directive that DE should build on” established system and institutional missions and quality academic programs,” and use DE to expand access, opportunity, with quality.


Northwestern NW

Oregon (1995):

Framework provides for “Planning, Quality and Program/Courses; Student Services; Faculty Issues; Tuition/Fees and Student Enrollments; and Technical Standards”



Middle States


NY (2004):

Framework: Draws from Middle States adoption of
WICHE/WCET best practices, and “Statement of Commitment Document.” Defines deliveries outside the state and seat-time equivalencies (good instruction, regardless of format).


Western (W)

Hawaii (1998):

Framework: Access, Instructional Quality are addressed.

Figure 1: State Policy Language Reflective of WICHE/WCET Best Practices

I have two questions about the policy issues: 1) Do the policy barriers relate to competition among a state's institutions for various student populations in a state or beyond? 2) Conversely, what can ensure transfer of quality courses among states, beyond a local attitude, that if it doesn't come from us, the student really should take our course?

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