For the universities and faculties applying for the E-xcellence Associates label, the benefit is clearly the recognition of their work in quality improvement. It demonstrates that they are offering quality controlled
e-learning and keep up to date with the latest developments.
The label further offers an incentive of continued improvement as the label is only valid for three years. For being renewed the institution needs to apply every three years for reviewing their self-assessment and revised roadmap to improvement.
The access to the Virtual Benchmarking Community offers applicants in addition a platform for demonstrating their expertise as well as finding examples of good practices.
How E-xcellence can operate within the existing systems of QA agencies; a view from the Dutch-Flemish Accreditation Body (NVAO), by Fred Mulder (NVAO)
The E-xcellence instrument has evolved into a movement working preferably within the existing QA frameworks rather than re-inventing them. In NVAO’s view, rightly so. Over the years, we have remained true to its commitment to integrate the E-xcellence instrument in the institutional and national policy frameworks. QA agencies adopt different positions as regards the desired mode of integration.
For instance, in its discussion about the integration of e-learning criteria in the national quality assurance system, the NAHE report formulates this conclusion: “In order for quality assessment of e-learning to become an integral part of national quality reviews, aspects and criteria need to be incorporated into the general basis for assessment.”
NVAO agrees with this statement, although our interpretation of “incorporated” may not conform completely to the one intended by the NAHE report. We are convinced that incorporating e-learning specific aspects and criteria does not necessarily have to entail a revision of our assessment framework, which does not feature elements on e-learning. NVAO’s assessment framework is an “open” one, and is very well capable of accommodating input on e-learning featuring among the findings and considerations of external assessment panels.
What we consider crucial is that e-learning specific intelligence and competence is present among panels of experts. It is the external experts who have to do the job of assessing the quality of e-learning. They must embody sound methodology and represent methodological development. In NVAO’s view, a true e-learning expert panel member is someone who is fully aware of the novel opportunity of having access to the record of learning interaction and engagement. NVAO considers it the organisation’s duty to ensure that panels are adequately composed in this respect.