Approbating and enhancing eLearning quality with epprobate
Today computers, tablets and smartphones have become an everyday part of the learning process. However, this technology often fails to live up to the promises made for it. The lack of concern for the quality of the courseware has been one of the key reasons of this failure with the consequent reluctance of potential users to adopt eLearning approaches. Now a worldwide consortium of experts is addressing this gap by developing an international quality label for eLearning resources – the “epprobate”.
It is difficult to rate the quality of educational material since it depends on each context and also on how the resources are used. The quality of eLearning courseware can not be objectively measured by size, length or weight. For this reason, subjective oriented criteria play an important role and naturally shift the challenge to the evaluators themselves, their selection and their own perspective.
‘epprobate’ provides an international quality label for eLearning courseware, but more importantly offers a consultative and collaborative improvement process by taking into consideration the points of view of the different stakeholders. According to Harvey Mellar, director of ‘epprobate’, the objective of ‘epprobate’ is to complement rather than to compete with the existing quality initiatives: “Many of our colleagues who are participating in ‘epprobate’ are already running a national quality label; however, their particular interest in coming together in ‘epprobate’ is to build an international consensus ”.
Starting in last May 2011, the ‘epprobate’ initiative developed its first prototypes including the review process and the quality grid in July. Rolf Reinhardt, managing director of the ‘Learning Agency Network’ and one of the co-founders of ‘epprobate’, explains that one of the key factors in achieving a fruitful and enriching scenario was the collaboration of more than 16 experts from all over the world: “During our benchmark analysis we compared existing quality grids from different nations - in the end, we agreed on a flexible grid with 11 indicators, with the courseware to be rated on each one by excellence and importance”.
The group rejected the use of a simple formula based on numerical processing of scores on the indicators, which is the classic basis for excellence ratings. Instead, the international awarding committee will hold discussion meetings with the client, provide feedback reports, and communicate the agreed ratings on each of the indicators. The decision to award the label will be based on a transparent process of weighting of indicators by their importance. ‘epprobate’ has already identified national partners from 28 countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, the Pacific region, as well as in North and South America.
The official roll-out of the label will be in March 2012, to coincide with an informative and festive event in Brussels.
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