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SlideShare verwendet Cookies, um die Funktionalitat und Leistungsfahigkeit der Webseite zu verbessern und Ihnen relevante Werbung bereitzustellen. Presentation given at the meeting of the TEMPUS TRUST project at the University of Coimbra, Portugal, January 25, 2012. Presentation given at the meeting of the TEMPUS TRUST projectat the University of Coimbra, Portugal, January 25, 2012. The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) is the independent body that checks on standards and quality in UK higher education[1]. QAA checks how universities, colleges and alternative providers of UK higher education maintain their academic standards and quality. In addition to its role in sustaining the reputation of UK higher education, QAA also regulates the Access to Higher Education Diploma,[3] a qualification that enables individuals without A Levels or the usual equivalent to enter higher education.
QAA works closely with other organisations that have an interest in the reputation of UK higher education, including the Higher Education Academy, Universities UK and GuildHE. QAA's mission is 'to safeguard standards and improve the quality of UK higher education wherever it is delivered around the world'. QAA is an independent body, a limited company and a registered charity in England, Wales and Scotland.
UK degree-awarding bodies (mainly universities) set their own standards for the degrees and other qualifications they award (academic degrees), but since most courses are partly or entirely publicly funded (including through student loans) there is a requirement that they undergo external review to demonstrate that a national 'threshold' standard is met, and that quality is satisfactory. While there are some differences between the methods used by QAA to achieve this, they have some key features in common. Each review results in a published report containing judgements on whether UK expectations are met.
QAA’s review methods are informed by a self-evaluation submitted in advance by each university or college, and by a 'student submission' - a commentary by its students.
QAA reviews do not generally look at individual courses or programmes of study, neither do they review or evaluate students' work. In cooperation with the UK higher education sector, QAA maintains the UK Quality Code for Higher Education (Quality Code - see below), the subject benchmark statements[10] for bachelor's and master's degrees, and other guidance for helping higher education providers to meet agreed UK expectations. The Quality Code (full name: UK Quality Code for Higher Education) sets out 19 expectations that must be met by UK higher education providers that receive any kind of public or student loan funding.
In 2015 the Quality Code was extended to include the UK 'frameworks for higher education qualifications' (specifying levels for the different higher education qualifications and defining these through 'level descriptors') and the subject benchmark statements (specifying what outcomes - knowledge, understanding, skills and attributes - are expected of bachelor's and master's graduates in specific disciplines). In Scotland the levels are different, being part of the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework[11]).
Higher education providers use the Quality Code, in conjunction with their own internal policies and other guidance, to design the programmes of study that lead to their higher education awards (including academic degrees). QAA provides other guidance to supplement the Quality Code (but which unlike the Quality Code is advisory rather than mandatory). QAA conducts or sponsors research projects and consultation events relating to quality in UK higher education and publishes guidance on topical issues.[15] It also publishes analysis of the collective findings of its reports to identify emergent trends. QAA investigates allegations of 'systemic failings' by higher education providers, whereas the Office of the Independent Adjudicator deals with individual complaints and grievances. Systemic failings are taken to mean a failure by a university or college in meeting its responsibilities for standards and quality. QAA advises the Privy Council of the United Kingdom, via government ministers, on the merits of applications for degree awarding powers or the right to be called a university. QAA is the regulator for the Access to Higher Education Diploma which enables adults without A-Levels or their equivalent to progress to higher education. QAA conducts reviews of locations where courses are provided by, or on behalf of, UK degree-awarding bodies.
In 1996 the Joint Planning Group for Quality Assurance in Higher Education recommended that the then two streams of quality assurance in higher education - Subject Review and Academic Audit (which had been in use since 1991) - should be brought together under a single body.
The Dearing Report published in 1997 gave QAA the remit of providing assurance about standards and quality, following which it developed a higher education qualifications framework, a code of practice and subject benchmark statements, and established a pool of external examiners. This laid the foundations for the so-called Academic Infrastructure, which QAA developed between 1997 and 2001 (a set of UK benchmarks for quality and standards) and the development of a new, UK-wide process of Academic Review which comprised elements of both Subject Review and Academic Audit - with an emphasis on the latter.
It was agreed that in England there would be a transitional period of three years (2002 to 2005) during which all higher education institutions would undergo their first Institutional Audit. In October 2009 a new Chief Executive was appointed (Anthony McClaran, formerly of UCAS), and measures were put in place to strengthen QAA's reputation. The Browne Report (October 2010) commissioned by the Labour government, and the subsequent White Paper 'Students at the heart of the system' published by the new Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition in summer 2011 had a substantial impact on QAA's work. In spring 2011, under the coalition government, the UK Border Agency announced a requirement for all private colleges that recruit students to UK higher education to undergo a standards and quality review by QAA. Following the coalition government's policy changes there was considerable opening up of higher education to more private providers, leading questions to be raised about the efficacy of the quality assurance system.
In 2012 the Science and Technology Committee of the House of Lords,[26] after considering the working of QAA, concluded that it was still not fit for purpose because its reviews were based on a 'threshold level' of standards that 'allowed no assessment of quality above that threshold' (paragraph 124) and that more needed to be done to improve quality (paragraph 125). Accordingly, in parallel with its recently introduced 'educational oversight' review methods, QAA developed Higher Education Review, which accommodated more flexibility and was applicable to all institutions subscribing to QAA (recognised and listed bodies[27]). By bringing together leading experts on quality assurance in higher education from seven countries (from Europe, the USA and South Africa), this volume intends to go several steps further than most publications on the same subject.
This chapter sets up the basis of a conceptual framework for the comparative study of quality assurance in higher education.
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Rezende F A.2006A complexidade possivel de ser transposta na conformacao de ambientes de ensino aprendizagem a distancia.
Bielschowsky C E2006Educacao Superior a distancia: umaestrategiaparaavaliacaoinstitucional. Wenn Sie diese Webseite weiter besuchen, erklaren Sie sich mit der Verwendung von Cookies auf dieser Seite einverstanden. The TEMPUS TRUST project aims to support the modernization of Ukrainian higher education by introducing a common quality assurance framework to enable mutual understanding and trust between higher education institutions, national and international quality assurance actors and the society in general. TheTEMPUS TRUST project aims to support the modernization ofUkrainian higher education by introducing a common qualityassurance framework to enable mutual understanding and trustbetween higher education institutions, national and internationalquality assurance actors and the society in general.
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It conducts quality assessment reviews, develops reference points and guidance for providers, and conducts or commissions research on relevant issues. All reviews check that UK expectations are met; currently this is done by benchmarking the provision against QAA's Quality Code (see below), but at time of writing the Conservative government elected in 2015 has plans to develop a Teaching Excellence Framework[9] which will play a role in the assessment of quality in higher education. Separate judgements comment on academic standards, academic quality, and the public information provided about courses. At time of writing, review places an emphasis on the existence of robust academic management structures, and policies and approaches that enable national expectations to be fulfilled, combined with evidence that this is happening. Where appropriate, QAA also works with professional, regulatory and statutory bodies, and employers, to ensure that its guidance is fit for purpose. The Quality Code replaced the 'Academic Infrastructure' (see below) in 2012 as the main reference point for checking on the quality of UK higher education, having been developed in close consultation with the UK higher education sector.
The Higher Education Credit Framework for England (see previous note) enables providers to allocate a credit tariff to courses and modules.
Both systems are designed as a recourse for students who have already asked for an internal investigation into their complaint and have not found the outcome of this to be satisfactory. No organisation may award degrees or call itself a university in the UK unless authorised to do so by the government. Organisations known as Access Validating Agencies (AVAs) are responsible for validating and reviewing Access courses and awarding the Diploma to successful students.
It is a member of ENQA, and of the International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies (INQAAHE)[20], meeting the quality criteria of both organisations in full. In April 1997.QAA was established through the transfer of functions and staff from the former Higher Education Quality Council and the quality assessment divisions of HEFCE and HEFCW. The new process was introduced in Scotland, but before it had become fully operational across the UK a number of English universities complained about the administrative burden that this approach entailed, leading to a rethink by the Westminster government.
The introduction of tuition fees led to increased focus on how quality in higher education was managed and verified. A successful outcome would be essential in order to obtain 'Tier 4 accreditation' also known as 'highly trusted sponsor' status. It was thought by many opinion formers and academics that the 'burden' of review needed to be adjusted according to the 'risk' posed by a particular institution. The report recommended that QAA should involve employers in the development of subject benchmark statements and in the quality assurance of standards (paragraphs 130-132). You may redistribute it, verbatim or modified, providing that you comply with the terms of the GFDL.
Containing comprehensive discussion of the most relevant trends in quality assurance regulation, translation and transformation, researchers and policy makers will find an engaged, academic reflection on how quality assurance is embedded in higher education and in a dynamic way to assess its impacts and potential improvements. It approaches quality assurance as a policy domain and looks into the policies that are formulated and implemented therein. IntroductionDistance Education constitutes one of the education fields that are evolving rapidly around the world.
HIGHER EDUCATION producing quali?ed human resources for the labor market  educa7ng quali?ed researchers and cultural agents  providing higher level teaching in all ?elds of knowledge  extending educa7on beyond secondary educa7on  (Adapted from Barnett, R. Reviewers check that the 19 expectations of the Quality Code,[2] agreed and recognised by the UK higher education sector, are met. Other resources used for benchmarks of academic standards include the 'subject benchmark statements' (maintained by QAA in consultation with the academic community), relevant qualifications and credit frameworks, institutions' own rules and handbooks, standards set by professional bodies, and the European Standards and Guidelines maintained by the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA).
Reports include recommendations for improvement, citations of good practice, and affirmations of actions taken by the higher education provider to improve since the last review. Evidence is obtained in a variety of ways, including interviews with relevant individuals and structured discussions with student and staff focus groups.
Draft guidance is published on QAA's website (via a tab on the home page), where it is accessible for public consultation before being formally published. Owned and maintained by QAA, it sets out 'what higher education providers expect of themselves', and 'what students may expect of them'. Other guidance documents help universities and colleges to address particular student needs, such as learning about sustainable practices or enterprise and entrepreneurship,[14] or they inform the public and students about the higher education experience, for example the balance between self-directed and structured learning. In 2014 the agency was added to the European Quality Assurance Register (EQAR).[21] Having signed memoranda of cooperation with a number of overseas quality assurance bodies,[22] QAA has been endorsed by the Asia Pacific Quality Network (APQN) for promoting international cooperation in quality assurance. The Scottish and Welsh higher education authorities took this opportunity to set up their own national arrangements, while in England QAA worked with the bodies representing higher education institutions (Universities UK and Guild HE) to devise a modified approach known as Institutional Audit. In the year prior to their audit, institutions underwent 'developmental engagements' - unpublished subject-based reviews to support internal quality assurance.



Between 2011 and 2013, in consultation with the higher education sector, QAA phased in a new Quality Code to replace the Academic Infrastructure, and developed a new method of Institutional Review applicable to degree-awarding bodies in England and Northern Ireland, and (with some variation) in Wales. QAA accordingly conducted 260 of these 'educational oversight' reviews in the first two years of operation, with 29 providers failing their review. There was an appetite for established universities to be subject to a lighter touch than further education colleges or new private providers. The objective pursued by the construction of such a framework is to check for crossnational policy convergence and the extent to which national idiosyncrasies still play a role – and, if so, of which nature – in the current context of international harmonisation. So, it is possible to consider it as an important instrument to reach youngsters and adults whom learning needs were not satisfactorily met by the traditional educational system. Carvalho, de , 2006Educacao a Distancia: a experiencia de uma organizacao militar com sede no Rio de Janeiro. Desafios da Educacao a Distancia na Formacao de Professores.Brasilia, Secretaria de Educacao a Distancia. It also provides advice to the Privy Council of the United Kingdom, on institutions' requests for degree awarding powers and the right to be called a university. Reviewers have extensive experience of higher education at a senior level, or are current or recent students. QAA Scotland developed the procedure known as Enhancement-Led Institutional Review (ELIR), while in Wales the method known as Institutional Review was established. There were also 'discipline audit trails' (DATs) - selective subject-based enquiries that enabled a phased reduction of the subject focus of QAA reviews.
Under a separate method QAA also continued to review degree courses provided at further education colleges (validated by universities). Since the abolition of UKBA, QAA has continued this work under the auspices of UK Visas and Immigration. More generally, the proposed framework aims at providing a range of tools to understand cross-national convergence in quality assurance policy, the mechanisms through which this convergence takes place, the components of the quality assurance policy that converge and those that, on the contrary, do not.
In 2005 a revised Institutional Audit model was developed and adopted with the agreement of the representative bodies and HEFCE.
This educational methodology has shown a new paradigm that permits access to much more people at the universities, as well as the improvements of the qualitative level of the professors who haven’t much time to upgrade themselves, mainly in Brazil where most primary and high school teachers dwell in more than one school to complement their wages which are very low.Due to the complexity of this process, which is still new for Brazilian reality, the institutions involved in this modality of education should spend time and money in evaluating the system performance in order to have it run smoothly.
This removed the DATs, thereby freeing time in the audit process to explore a broader range of topics and themes.
Each learning instrument or tool needs to be addressed for improving the quality of the knowledge the student will achieve during his learning process.
Within such a context, this chapter aims to analysetutors’, students’ and university teachers’ perception about quality assurance in a distance undergraduate management course offered in partnership with Brazil Open University, the Ministry of Education and the Federal University of Lavras in Minas Gerais, Brazil.
Materials, structures, components meet requirements will follow ocucos established quality. The next sections aim to highlight information and some authors’ points of view on Distance Education conceptualization and challenges, and quality assurance in Distance Education.
In the sequence, the authorspresent some aspects of the methodology used to gather data to discuss the Brazilian experience on distance education regarding teachers’, tutors’ and students’ points of views. Finally, the authorsmake some final considerations about the study and leave some ideas for new research on this matter in Brazil and worldwide.2. One form of distance teaching is using the Internet; gathering information together and making it available for those in need of it.
Online courses offer opportunities in creating new ways of learning, and integration of multiple media (text, image, audio, and video) in a single tool.
On the other hand, Distance Education can be seeing as a systematically organized way of self study in which the student instructs himself from the study material that is presented to him, and the follow up and the student success supervision are accomplished by a group of tutors and or professors [2]. Thus, this alternative reduces the number of excluded people from the digital world by teaching, informing and training them in Computer Science.
However, the evasion in continued formation courses is still very high and has caused a deep concern to its idealizers and other people involved in Distance Education. As a result, this theme is becoming more relevant each day, calling for identification of gaps and faults, which can be prevented, so that the students can finalize their courses without the evasion risks. Thus, identifying higher quality patterns is relevant for corporate or traditional education institutions. However, understanding the authors’ views and perceptions about distance courses is important.Keeping these considerations in mind, to validate the use of this methodology is relevant to evaluate its results. Distance education challengesThe specific characteristics of Distance Education show the potential of long distance teaching and learning not only in Brazil, but worldwide. Many regions in the country are completely excluded from electric energy (which is the first condition to connect people to the internet to provide them more access to the evolution of digital technology)[5]. These are the moving powers necessary to promote large changes on Distance Education inside the country.Another problem is related to the low family income level, which reflects directly on the school grade or level among children and even adults. In this specific case, the actions of local, regional and federal governments are essential to minimize this problem.
In this context, The Ministry of Education of Brazil has created specific regulations for implementing Distance Education as an official teaching in the country. The main specific regulation for implementing Distance Education in Brazil is the Decree No. Educational supervision educational supervision educational supervision working with intimate. This Decree characterizes Distance Education as an official educational modality, being its didactic and pedagogical mediation in the teaching-learning process developed via Information and Communication technologies, and by its teachers and students developing educational activities in different times and places [6].
In this context, a big challenge for all players at the educational sector is to ensure quality at this modality of education. Quality assurance in distance educationDistance Education constitutes one of the education fields that are evolving rapidly around the world.
This educational methodology has shown a new paradigm that permits access to much more people at the universities, as well as the improvements of the qualitative level of the professors who has not much time to upgrade themselves, mainly in Brazil where most of primary and high school teachers dwell in more than one school to complement their wages, which are very low.For this reason, the whole process of Distance Education needs to face an overall evaluation of assurance quality. Not only Brazil, but also other parts of the world illustrate the importance of quality standards. The American Council on Education, in 1996, the American Federation of Teacher, in 2000, and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation,in 2005, have distributed and circulated documents outlining quality standard for distance education. Therefore, each learning instrument or tool needs to be addressed for improving the quality of the knowledge the student will get or achieve. This is a quality assurance framework in distance education to be adopted by all initiatives on this modality of education in Brazil. The evaluating occurs before the course starts to give “Authorization” for its beginning, two years after to give “Recognition” to the course and after the first graduation to offer “Renew of Recognition”. This framework involves eight aspects and they shouldbe fullyexpressed in thePedagogical Political Project of every distance education course [9]. Evaluation Procedures Used to Measure the Efficiency of Higher Education Systems and Institutions.
The evaluators have to consider all these aspects during in loco evaluation in order to accredit the course as a qualified course.Keeping these ideas in mind, we may say that it is relevant to evaluate distance education, because it is a reality in Brazil and worldwide. A proper evaluation will assure improviments and quality in order to offer an appropriated knowledge for people in different areas of the country and people who did not meet the educational standards for their proper age. One of these experiences is the CEDERJ Consortium, celebrated among higher degree institutions in the state of Rio de Janeiro and the state government of Rio de Janeiro. The Consortium for Distance Education in the State of Rio de Janeiro - CEDERJ was officially launched by the honourable State Governor, the honourable Science and Technology State Secretary, and the Magnificent Rectors of the public universities in the State of Rio de Janeiro, on January the 26th, 2000.
In the second semester of 2005 there were 9,864 students registered for 5 graduation courses: Mathematics, Biology, Physics, Pedagogy, and Computer Science spread all over the state. The main evaluation is done in loco in the poles and the student still cumulates evaluation points taken from the evaluation at distance [11]. This is an important iniciative of the Ministry of Education and many other public universities and municipalitiesto offer distance education free of charge inside the country.
For all these reasons, the next section will address the evaluation process developed by CEDERJ and its partner universities to ensure quality in this modality of education.
A practical experience on evaluating distance educationThe Consortium for Distance Education in the State of Rio de Janeiro - CEDERJ is composed by The Federal University of Riode Janeiro (UFRJ), The Fluminense Federal University (UFF), The Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRRJ), The State University of the Fluminense North (UENF), The State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ) and The Federal Institute of Rio de Janeiro (IFET). CEDERJ’s headquarter is located at Visconde de Niteroi Street – 1364 – Mangueira – Rio de Janeiro – Brazil. In order to understand the process of adapting methodologies and instruments to evaluate distance education courses[13] discussed the evolution of the evaluation methodology in this regional consortium experience. The main idea of this study was to present the results of the evaluation performed in that consortium. The information was gathered mainly from structured questionnaires available at the virtual platform and technical visits organized to evaluate presentialy the different municipalities where CEDERJ courses were offered in partnership with the six universities of the state of Rio de Janeiro. These authors came to the conclusion that evaluation methodology turned into a very broad process that was also very important to redefine the methodology for the following years. In 2008, CEDERJ applied a different questionnaire with open questions for students, tutors, teachers, poles, directors and course coordinators [14].
This evaluation was mainly influenced by the amount of data gathered from the previous evaluation. The previous evaluation is described below.The whole evaluation process counts on 5 steps or phases. The first one was to stimulate students and staff working at the regional poles, using advertisements fixed on the boards, messages left in the virtual platform and tutors talking to the students.
The evaluation was held during the second semester of the year, the first experience happened on October 2005, and involved filling out the questionnaires and the technical visits performed in each pole or municipality.
The next phase was the self-evaluation, carried on the base of the gathered data from the questionnaires and technical visits [15].The forth phase was an external evaluation in order to double check the data and process some extra analysis on them and get views from different actors who are not directly involved in the process. It was necessary to organize a seminar in early October 2006 to offer subsidies to establish future actions based on the process of self-evaluation and external evaluation [16].The evaluation to access quality of CEDERJ distance courses was composed by a questionnaire composed of 8 main blocks of questions and the students had to tick one of the five graduation possibilities in the scale, which varied from Poor (1) to Excellent (5). The first block was related to the regional pole infrastructure, which accessed and evaluated students’ points of views about the place where they have direct contact with other students and mainly the presence tutorial; as shown in Appendix. In this block the student was supposed to evaluate the tools that were available for their interaction to distance tutorial and all of the other facilities they have in it.
This one was very important because most of the students place much more emphasis on the printed material then the other facilities provided by the system [17].In the sequence, the students evaluated local tutorials considering different topics, and then at distance tutorials considering timetables, tutor attention and so on. In the following block they pointed out their views about local evaluations and at distance evaluations analyzing other topics.
The students’ assiduity comes next, and its efficiency was measured by the number of times the students access the platform, and attend local and at distance tutorials. It varied from none (so the student ticked number 1) up to more than 20 times (so the student ticked number 5).
It is worth mentioning that the questionnaires provided very rich information to draw graphics and tables for visualizing the results according to the different poles, courses, and even subjects.The questionnaire was returned to 3,345 students, whom were usually enrolled in 4 or 5 subjects per semester.
The results were summarized in different topics, like: local tutorial, at distance tutorial, teaching team, subject evaluation tests, didactic booklets, didactic material available at the platform, U-Virtual or Virtualplatform, and infrastructure of the poles. A program was developed to categorize and summarize all the data gathered from the questionnaires [18].In this first round of the process, it was gathered 1,590 written messages.


From these observations it was elaborated a summarized report, per area, with the main problems and their suggestions to improve the quality of the system as a whole. A part from that, a team of courses representatives visited the poles in order to perform the second step of this phase. Each course sent its representatives, and CEDERJ itself sent a representative to spend almost a day in touch with pole directors, tutors and students. The team also counted on one professional in charge of performing a short conference for the whole group of students and tutors from each pole [19].As a result of each visit the team leader prepared a report summarizing the findings and addressing it to the evaluating team leader in the CEDERJ headquarter. The report has 2 or 3 pages and all the reports were sent to other colleagues for disseminating the information. The final phases of the evaluation process were the self-evaluation and then the external evaluation. Thus, some seminars were set to discuss the outcomes and prepare the following steps [20].The evaluation methodology, presented here, has been implemented in the consortium and it seems to be working properly. The data from the questionnaires are usually processed into graphics and tables in order to better visualise and understand the students’ perceptions and points of views about CEDERJ experience. The whole methodology has beenimplemented every year and it is planned to last for one whole year. This methodology is providingsubsidies to improve the quality of the whole process including changes in the platform content and design, written material and tutorial activities. Since evaluation is a continuos process, CEDERJ improved the instrument of data collection and turned it into a more flexible instrument with structured and open ended questions. Due to the complexity of this process, which is still new for Brazilian reality, the institutions involved in this modality of education should spend time and money in evaluating the system performance. Thus, the Federal University of Lavras and other different universities around the country, in partnership with the Bank of Brazil, offered an undergraduate managemnet course on distance bases. This is another experience and this chapter deals with some empirical results of teachers’, tutors’ and students’ perceptions about the course. The course was offered in partnership with the Brazil Open University and the Ministry of Education. Each university attends some poles in order to certify the students at the end of the course.
This experience is singular in the country, so it is relevant to improve the pattern of life within the country too. It is worth to say that this course is not a sequential one; it is just one entrance course. This is a “pilot project” that is subsidizing the decisions of the Ministry of Education regarding the offering of other different undergraduate courses on distance education modality.For this chapter the authorschose the Federal University of Lavras (UFLA) as a sample for this research.
Among them, 130 are staff and members of the Bank of Brazil, and 159 belong to the civil society.
The first section of the questionnaire was aimed to describe the profile of the respondents. All the main actors (students, tutors, and teachers) involved in the educational process were supposed to answer it.
The main section of the questionnaire addressed questions related to printed material, platform access, tutorial, chat, exams, meeting, and other issues related to the process of offering the course. This survey provided a huge amount of data that was addressed to improve the quality of the experience itself and the quality of other distance education initiatives, like the Public Management Course, which is being offered by Brazil Open University in partnership with UFLA and other universities around the country.
All these topics and other ones that may be related to them will be addressed in the sequence.Students were asked to evaluate the forms of communication between the actors in this model of education.
As alternatives to this issue there were four interaction mechanisms: video conferencing, electronic mail, forums and chats. Those with the most significant results were e-mail and forum, with positive acceptance of 81% and 79% respectively, as shown on Figure 1. Instruments of immediate interaction, such as video conference and chat, were badly evaluated probably because of the quality of internet connection in certain localities where the students undertake the use of instruments of immediate interaction, like what was indirectly mentioned by [22] when he pointed out the challenges for distance education in a big country, such as Brazil.At Figure 2, we may observe tutors stated that students’ and teachers’ involvement predominate as they are considered the most important aspects for maintaining the quality of distance education.
This reinforces that, although it is a course that relies on technology, in a decisive manner the human component makes a difference.Respondents pointed textbooks or teaching materials as extremely important and significant inthe process of teaching and learning at distance bases. All items questioned were evaluated with agreement by a least 77% of respondents (Figure 3).
Teachers and tutors informed that interation with the content, development of skills and competences, interation among communication resources, and orientation related to the understanding of the proposed activities that are relevant to assess the quality of suitable printed material in distance education. There isclearly agap betweenthe assessmentof tutorsand teachersabout whatis important and theassessment ofstudentson thesame time.
The importance of practice that is emphasized by the studentsdoes not meetthe same expectations inresponses of tutors andteachers. On the other hand, there is a convergenceof ideasaboutpersonalized services to be offered for different students. Another itemoften mentionedis the lack of face reactionof the students, with 27% of responses.
It should be notedthattime managementby studentswas not consideredavery significantdifficulty.Teacherspointed out lack of commitmentof the tutorsand absence oftheir participation asthe majordifficulties encounteredin the interactionwith them in order to warrant the quality of the educational process. So, one may say that teachers should be more integrated with tutors to improve the quality of distance learning process.
On this regard, we may point to the proposal of [23] about thecharacteristics of the environment that provides knowledge construction. On their words, this environment needs to offer activities centered on active students, and to offer opportunities for negotiation and interpretation involving several perspectives. This is an important fact to observe because the students themselves are aware that their commitiment to distance course interfere in the quality of the courses. In this case, managers and course coordinators should look for alternatives of tecnologies or any other combination of present activities to involve the students more within the course and its technologies. Another important factor which is related to this one is the lack of habit of working with interactivity on the learning platform. The third limiting fator for tutors was also mentioned in the third position for the students, which is interaction of involved professionals (15%). So, it is possible to state that students and tutors have the same points of views about the limiters of quality on distance education.
On this specific case, the team working with distance education should address these kinds of limiters during the definition of the pedagogical project to delimiateacitivitesansuring that different actors involved in the operacionalization of the course work together, as pointed out by [24].
Teachers, tutors and course coordinators have to work on participatory and integrative bases to decrease evasion during the courses.
Following these two limiters, comes the lack of habit of working with interactivity as another important condition to improve quality in this educational process. Comparing these three points of views, we may say that all the actors involved in the education process have almost the same perception about limiters in this modality of education. It helps to reinforce one of the challenges for improving quality of Distance Education presented by different authors. It shows that communication between the parts involved in distance education courses is not as good as communication between parts involved in presential courses (37%). The second most relevant item pointed by students is related to the impessoality that happens on distance courses.
Apart from these, 23% of the respondents informed that lack of satkeholder involvement is another deficiency on distance education courses. First, but with a slightly higher difference, are the difficultiesrelated to communication among actors involved in the process followed by lack of stakeholder involvement (Figure 15). The other two options impersonality (24%) and attachement to presential paradigm (21%) were also almost equally mentioned by teachers.
For this reason, one may state that information technology is relevant to improve the quality of distance education courses. As this course was a national piloting project it faced some difficulties mainly regarding communication systems involving students, tutors and teachers’ interaction, educational material that sometimes were not totally appropriated for distance education courses and the difficulties regarding the multidisciplinary team, which was spread in different cities and sometimes could not articulate themselves properly to address students’, tutors’ and teachers’ needs on time.5. Conclusion and recommendationDistance Education is showing a significant growth in the last few years in Brazil and more institutions are getting enrolled in this kind of education. The year of 2005 ended up with surprising news, and for the first time in Brazil, this education model was considered one of the priorities of the Ministry of Education and Culture(MEC). The reason is the great demand for vacancies, mainly in higher education, and the spread of information and communications technologies that make it possible.
Apart from that, Distance Education may provide a great impulse to presential education because teachers receive support to elaborate didatic material and training to participate in the web platform.
Distance Education is growing, motivated by the demand of many students finishing secondary school, and other people from different ages and backgrounds that have begun to use on-line training as a way to update their knowledge in Brazil.
This new educational paradigm is meeting students' expectations because they may study and work at the same, and they do not need to spend money and time to move from home to school every day. This saved time can be allocated for reading, exchanging ideas and information with other students, tutors and teachers by the internet or a free phone line.CEDERJ experience, a consortium of the 6 universities of the state of Rio de Janeiro and the Federal Instituteof Rio de Janeiro, is one of the well established distance education experience, which is working to improve the access and the quality of knowledge offered to the population in this state. More than 30.000 students are enrolled in its 9 graduation programs and for this reason, it is necessary to evaluate the quality of the system as a whole. The evaluation methodology, presented here, has being implemented in the consortium since 2006 and it suffered some changes during the process.
One of the most significant changes was on the instrument of data collection to gather the students’ opinionsabout their courses and the CEDERJ consortium as a whole.
The technical visits provided subsidies to re-orient this process of evaluating distance education in Brazil.
This methodology is supposed to provide subsidies to improve the quality of the whole process including changes in the platform content and design, written material, tutorial activities, poles infrastructure and support, coordinating team and other actors involved. Another experience addressed in this chapter was the undergraduate Management Course offered by The Federal University of Lavras in partnership with the Bank of Brazil and the Ministry of Education and Culture. This course was a pilot project which subsidized the organization and institucionalization of the Brazil Open University.
The questionnaire was available at the distance education platform.This research aimed to discuss students’, teachers’ and tutors’ perception about quality assurance at distance education courses.
It analyzed their perception about technology, mechanism of interaction, tutors’ and teachers’ involvement, communication tool used in this modality of education and teaching material (textbook) used during the course.The results provided a useful amount of information to improve the quality of the course, including improvements on communication tools, printed material, and even the learning evaluating system and the facilities of the system used to implement the course.
It also subsidized some important decisions of the Ministry of Education and Culture and Brazil Open University about offering new undergraduate course in the country.
In the second semester of 2009, a Public Management Course started in the same bases of this pilot project. The Federal University of Lavras is offering this new course in six new municipalities, and the “pilot project” on Management finished in the middle of 2011.
Nowadays, the National Institute of Educational Studies – INEP is evaluating every distance course within Brazil to offer Accreditation regarding the framework stated at document References of Quality for Higher Distance Education [27].Since the experiences addressed in this chapter were valuable to improve the quality of the courses, new researches at CEDERJ consortium, within the new courses offered by Brazil Open University and other broad iniciatives on distance education should be made to assess the quality of the courses offered nowadays.
It is also recommended that new researches should be carried addressing the Accreditation in public and private institutions in order to evaluate the appropriateness of the model and the difficulties faced by the institutions in order to attend quality standard desired for distance education.



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