A Critical Investigation of Quality Assurance in Open Distance E-Learning

A Critical Investigation of Quality Assurance in Open Distance E-Learning

Victor Justice Pitsoe (University of South Africa, South Africa) and Moeketsi Letseka (University of South Africa, South Africa)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2645-2.ch007
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Abstract

Quality assurance has become critical to Open Distance Learning (ODL) worldwide. Yet the ODL environment is marked by cultural hegemony. An elite group of individuals strategically dominate the educational arena in order to advance the supremacy of gender, race and socioeconomic status. This chapter highlights a divide between theory and practice. The e-learning paradigm, known as Open Distance e-Learning (ODeL) creates opportunities for practitioners and students with respect to accessibility, flexibility, and cost. But it also creates challenges for quality assurance. Most ODeL texts do not treat quality assurance as discourse, power and cultural hegemony. Policymakers tend to assume that students have similar learning needs. This chapter (1) explores quality assurance; (2) it sketches Unisa's shift to ODeL; (3) argues a case for quality assurance as a practice of hegemony; (4) critiques quality assurance as an Ideological State Apparatus; and (5) proposes a reengineering of quality assurance within alternative frameworks.
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Conceptualising “Quality” And “Quality Assurance”

Throughout the history of the quality assurance, various iterations of what it means to be a good quality have come and gone. We need to take cognisance that the concepts of “quality” and “quality assurance” are not unproblematic. Both concepts have very different meanings and interpretations to both the providers of and the consumers of quality and quality assurance. In essence, the concepts “quality” and “quality assurance” are to a large extent amorphous and contested. Quality, just like “freedom” or “justice”, is an elusive concept, instinctively understood but difficult to articulate. Olakulehin (2009) asserts that the term quality is a difficult concept to define. It can easily be misconstrued because of its rather nebulous characteristics. Most scholars consider quality as extremely elusive, slippery, dynamic, multidimensional and relative concept.

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