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Tian Belawati on Managing Quality Assurance in a Mega University...Final Global Learn 2011 Keynote
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Professor Tian Belawati is the final keynote here at Global Learn. She is at a giant university--the Open University of Indonesia with over 650,000 students. We both keynoted a conference in the Philippines last year but it was from a distance, so this is the first time we have actually met. I have really enjoyed listening to her ideas yesterday at the keynote panel. (Note: As with my previous post on Gilly Salmon's keynote on Tuesday, I am typing this on the fly. Please excuse the typos.)

Tian's talk is "Managing Quality Assurance in a Mega University." Tian Belawati. As indicated in the bio posted at the Global Learn website, she is the Rector at Universitas Terbuka (UT), the Indonesia Open University. Universitas Terbuka.

She is so interesting and filled with data. Tian argues that there is much strength in open and distance universities in opening access to education in Asia and around the world. The opening of access is undeniable. It is not just online supplements but a way to expand access to education. The first open university was in the UK in 1969 and in Asia, the first one was in Pakistan in 1974. Now 12 of the largest universities are in Asia serving more than 8 million students. Amazing and a statistic we rarely hear about in North America. Her list of open universities and their size is impressive (wish I had a copy). She notes that open and distance universities are as much a political symbol as it is an educational tool.

As time goes by, it is no longer just a question of access. Tian tells us that now the focus is quality. It must be on quality or open universities will be looked as second class and lower. In the late 1980s or early 1990s, there was an increasing focus on quality--such as adding tutors or mentors and the communication between them and the students. So how can ICT help? Many open universities are designed to be flexible and open. They want access to the system. But translation of the idea of openness is complex. You do not want to limit the age of the student, the start time, the registration period, etc. No one can be denied unless he or she dies or graduates. The audience laughs. This is the only way to come off the database.

It is difficult. You must flag things. So governments set up reviews and accrediting agencies and organizations to give guidance as to the minimal standards and other quality factors. Tian then asks us, what is quality in face-to-face (FTF) instruction? She then notes that much lies in the professor. It is a fairly simple model. But it is much less simple in open and distance learning. For one, the designer of the content will likely not be the one who mediates the instruction or who assesses the learning. The mediated part is the challenge. The teaching and learning is mediated, both print and online.

We have to consider more factors and management. Need good course writers. Good curriculum materials. Good tutors. You need good across the board. Many parts to the system and each is critical. Need everything done in accordance with principles of learning as well as principles of open and distance learning, flexible learning, etc.

Terbuka (her place) was started in 1984--to be flexible, affordable, accessible, and open. She was there at the start. She says that today they must use technologies that the people have personally or can access in a local center. The mission is to provide services to those who do typically not have a chance to attend other universities. Head office is in Jakarta with 369 academic staff and 567 administrative staff. They manage all operations from there. There are 37 regional offices and 400 academic staff and 498 administrative staff. About 1,800-1,900 staff in total. Of their students, just 1,000 are outside of Indonesia.

Total students are 646,467 as of the fall 2010. About 82 percent of the 646,467 are practicing teachers and 65 percent are females. Wow. They can join in face-to-face (FTF) or online tutorials. Before the students can register, there are many considerations. Must invite experts from other universities for many things--writing test items, developing curriculum. The main operational activities are complex--there are needs analyses, rewriting course materials, rewriting of test items, etc.

So many activities. There are 974 courses written by 1,000 writers. Students can take any one of them at any time. Interesting, that 100 percent of the content must exist in printed form. This is to help those who do not have technology access. There are over 22,000 tutors every semester to help conduct the FTF tutorials. There are 575 online tutors for 552 online courses for over 13,000 students.

How do they prepare the tutors? This is a huge issue. This is instructor training. They also need exam rooms. There are 741 cities for 21,781 exam rooms each semester, simultaneously around the country. Also there are 12 cities in other parts of the world for 369 other students. There are over 40,400 exam supervisors or proctors. Over 2,100,000 course exams processed in a semester. And then there are floods, tsumanis, earthquakes, and bad weather. In fact, boat problems arise. For instance, a ferry once sunk carrying one-half million dollars of course materials. Wow. What did she do then, someone asks...? Tian says, they that they immediately resent them. So they must have prepare and create a lot of structure within their internal quality assurance (QA) system.

Starting in 2001, they made a commitment for a very strong QA system. They have 10 people on the committee. They found a AAOU draft of a QA framework and used it. It look much planning and thinking. So then they came up with a best practices statement. Need to take into account many things: policy and planning--there are 7 statements of best practices, human resources recruitment and development--9 statements of best practices; the learners--10 statements; learning supports, media for learning, assessment of student learning--15 students; course design and development; etc. Given all of these concerns, they have many manuals. For instance, manuals for academic administration, student services, promotion and partnerships, course and examination materials, development and distribution, general, etc. These are all manuals--there are more than 71 manuals for different things. Auditors must look for certain things.

QA is enforced in various ways. They have a certified audit (my interest is peeked now, since I am a former auditor and CPA). The Ministry of Education monitors this process. There are also external assessors--the International Council for Open and Distance Learning (ICDE) as well as the International Standardization Organization (ISO). They have had positive reviews but Tian realizes that they must keep focusing on quality issues. They cannot be content. There are many management aspects. There are many aspects to and processes within the system. And most of them are not electronic.

She stops now and takes questions. She has started with the Open University of Indonesia in 1984.

A question comes up about technology. She says that the Internet cafes are not the same in Indonesia as in Melbourne. They do use a suite of tools. But need the supplementary materials. This includes mobile learning tools. She warns her curriculum and course development staff and tutors not not be too heavy in the Websites or any technology resource or tool.

A question comes up about interesting stories (this is my question)--She talks about a 93 year old graduate. She also mentions a mother who graduated at the same time with her daughter and her primary school teacher. There are many many more. Students from different regions of the country--and one month after graduating get a new job that changes the lifes of many people. Many once in a lifetime experiences are shared with Tian over the years. Someone in the audience adds his own story. He mentions how students struggle to get an Internet signal. Interestingly, he is one of their tutors.

I also asked a question about her quality assurance components and the manuals which are in place. Theo Bastiaens from the Open University of the Netherlands mentioned a quality assurance in e-learning model that is often used--this instrument is based on the E-xcellence manual containing the benchmark statements, with the criteria and indicators. It is free online.

A question comes up about the types of course offerings. They do not have engineering or medical courses.

And then a question comes up about quality at the individual level. She discusses quality standards. There are contracts and evaluations. It is part of the QA system.

She started as an editor for course materials back in 1984. Was doing work in agriculture economics. After that, she headed a research institute. Research on the field of distance education.

We start discussing skills and competencies in today's world. People must be flexible and adaptive. People must be able to do many things.

I ask her what didn't she note during her keynote that are hot buttons. Tian notes that the QA system is being transformed now. They do not want people to feel it is all imposed from the top. She wants the stakeholders involved--the academic departments, for instance. Many instruments developed for evaluating quality. Give triggers so do not get lost. Topics like plagiarism arise. Exam supervisors and empathy with students arises so they must rotate exam supervisors.

In the end, Tian Belawati gave us another fascinating keynote and a good way to end the week. It was great to meet her and I hope you can too.
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Gilly Salmon's Creating Learning Futures here in Australia...Live Blogging from Global Learn in Melbourne
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
In Melbourne, listening to a keynote at the Global Learn conference Gilly Salmon from the Univerity of Southern Queensland. I will take notes here and try to capture her key points so you can feel as though you are here with us (by the way, the date of this blog says Tuesday the 29th of March; but here in Melbourne it is Wednesday morning the 30th).

Ok, here it goes (sorry for any typos). Gilly has recently moved from the University of Leicester to create a Digital Futures Institute here in Australia (i.e., "Australian Digital Futures Institute"). It has been four years since I last saw her in Leicester. Always a fun person to listen to. She always gets me (and others) to think in a new way. Her books on moderating and facilitating online courses and activities are highly popular. John Hedberg from Macquarie University in Sydney just introduced her. John, Gilly, and I keynoted an e-learning summit in Hamilton, New Zealand nine years ago this week. Hard to believe that those 9 years have gone by so fast.

Ok, back to the keynote. Gilly is showing a visual of what she is calling "The Tree of Learning." Using it, she is attempting to show us the evolution of learning. She discussed people like John Locke bringing on empiricism, Raplh Taylor for structuring the school curriculum, Erasmus on the method of study (i.e., pedagogy), Charlemagne (the emperor) who surrounded himself with scholars who provided him with evidence and not just opinion, Raphael's School of Athens (and she alludes to learning through apprenticeship and groups), and also in there is the Ptolemaic Library and Research Institute of Alexandria.

Then Gilly goes on, "An interesting thing happens to our tree," we now have a wide diversity of learning. Many things happens. Ivy Bean, age 104 is the world's oldest tweeter. Gilly worked near her in the UK until recently. She kept in touch with new and old friends now with her tweets. I think to myself, "imagine the mentoring possible today from people in nursing homes and retirement communities around the planet."

I cannot think for too long...I must keep up with Gilly. Next, she points out that there are many exciting, new learning branches and new forms of growth. New things developed. Some species became extinct, she says. "As more variations occured, the Tree of Learning grew." Then she goes back and says that in many cases books were locked up in chains. Today, universities open up their knowledge. Journals are open. Open educational resources (OER) and opencourseware (OCW) enhance the university. They do not distract from it. She knows of no university which has placed OER and OCW on the Web that are extinct. What I think she is saying is that often, exactly the opposite happens--educational organizations that are more open and celebrate open educational avenues thrive and become ever better known. We need such experimentation.

In terms of the history of the world, open education is just the last milisecond of time. The first Wikipedia entry, the first cafe with the Internet, the first blog post, the first podcast, etc. These are all recent phenomena. She asks, so is online learning establishing itself as a significant part of the learning equation? Today, workplace and professional learning is more contributary, more on demand, more relevant, etc. The workplace branches for learning are now more fresher and greener, she contends. I think she is absolutely correct.

The guilds are gone. However, 70 universities in Europe are in the same place doing the same things that have existed for centuries, if not millennia. Of course, the British Library has over 150 million physical items and very good coffee. Audience laughs. It is worth a wonder into it. Technoshine (a word Gilly has coined) has digitized 25 million pages of newspapers dated since the 17th century including the UK Times as well as more trashy news sources. Gilly notes that this opens up scholarly work.

Now what about the up and coming generation. We need to educate things for massive challenges in front of us. Climate change, security, healthcare, etc. For instance, Sugata Mitra's Hole in the Wall ideas and other ideas for helping children in rural India can teach themselves skills. He calls the result "self-organized learning." Kid will learn to browse the Web n their own. We need to capture such stories. She thinks that this can be a new species of learner. Part of this new learner will be more mobile. It will transform education. Gilly provides a story of her 14 year-old granddaughter who texts friends, uses virtual learning environments, shares ideas for homework with friends, etc.

So what is next? She quotes from Eric Hoffer that in times of change the learners inherit the earth while learned people are prepared for a world that no longer exists. Do you want to let it happen, make it happen, or wonder what happened, she asks all of us. Our audience raises its hands and says it wants to make it happen.

She then has 3 main points. The first is that Differentiation = innovation (I missed the other two--ok, I asked her for more info after her session and she said one of the other ones is that natural selection allows for more learner's chose). She discusses ideas from the Young Foundation about social innovation. Most are extending and defending our core businesses, Gilly contends. Some universities are building emerging businesses. And a few are creating viable options. She argues that we need to do all three to survive. You can rarely do #2 and #3 on your own. In effect, she says, you need to "collaborate to compete" (I think that was the point).

What she is trying to do is reflect on ideas from Darwin to wish to evolve our learning and education spaces. Just as animals evolve, so must education and learning opportunities. It is difficult to change any aspect or part of education. But we are now in a very rapidly changing ecosystem. In such a system, you need to know where your specialness is and where it is going. Know where your differentiation is going to be rewarded in the future. We need to shift resources to new areas. Futurists design for the future. Education needs to respond to the variety of opportunities on the tree of learning.

She pauses for a moment and says, oh, but some will contend that teachers (and others) will be resistent to change. Yet, how can the most creative of the species known as human--teachers--be resistant to change? More and more ideas are tumbling from the tree. How can this dillemma happen? Some take on too many changes at once. A huge proliferation of projects, the majority of which no longer exist. The paradox is that the continuity of core activities is so deeply entwined that it is difficult--the longer you have been doing something, the much harder it is to extract resources from it for innovation (I asked her for this clarification in her meet the keynote session). We need to extract resources from one area to rethink and design new areas.

There are four things in a matrix that she is showing us:
1. University owned technologies and continuos adaptation is what is happening now.
2. Then consider new technologies and how they can be harnessed for the future.
3. Third, we need to think about universities owned technology and new opportunities with them.
4. And fourth, this quadrant is about riskier, new technologies and new types of learners.

Gilly then reflects back on the Media Zoo that she had at the University of Leicester in her "Beyond Distance Research Alliance." Otters, pelicans, tigers, etc. Animals were her metaphor there in Leicester. Here is Australia, she has a "space" metaphor.
1. Our Solar System,
2. Our Galaxy,
3. Our Galatic Partners, and
4. Deep Space.

She is still working on it. She does mention several principles and ideas including going back to Athens with dialogue. She is cautious in predicing the future. More learner voice, partnerships, and contributions. We will form relationships between 3D virtual world environments, and real world. More open educational resources. Thanks were wonderful as always! I look forward to Thursday morning when I join her and five others on a panel that will discuss our digital futures (see below for the link).

Yesterday, the keynote was Rick Bennett from the University of New South Wales. His paper (10 meg), Global Classrooms, Rural Benefits: creative outreach through computing in education, is downloadable from the Global Learn speaker Website. Rick is at the intersection of creativity, art and design, expert mentoring, online collaboration, learning technologies, humanitarian causes and social change. Do check out his Omnium project and Creative Waves outreach and research.

Rick's stuff is so cool. Many people were just amazed by his talk. He really gives a purpose and meaning to those of us in the learning technologies field. As Rick puts it, he just does stuff. He takes action to help people in developing and underdeveloped countries (the Philippines, Uganda, Kenya, Sri Lanka, etc.). Check it out. His work is exactly what the Global Learn conference mission and vision is all about.

What a fantabulous way to start the conference out. Write to his papers...check out the Omnium project. And then find a way to make your own dent in the world. Gilly, John, and Rick have. You can too. At the start of his talk, Rick referred to reflecting on what happened "on your shift" and your role in it. It is something that Gilly has said to him once and it struck a chord with him (and me too now). I say make a dent. What will your dent be? What will you do on your shift? Go for it. Be bold. Do not be, same ol', same ol'. Please!

Check out our special keynote panel for tomorrow, Digital Futures: Now and When. If you get a chance, come to the Global Learn conference tomorrow here in Melbourne, Australia. Or come next year to Singapore for the 3rd annual Global Learn conference (assuming that is where we go).

Hope this was helpful. Again, apologies for typos...I was typing as she was speaking and my battery is running low and I need to post this now.
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Purdue to Launch Online Master's Program...Reflections on Why...
Friday, March 11, 2011
News was passed around my department today that Purdue University will soon be announcing a new online master's degree focused on learning design and technology. Apparently, this program has been three years in the making. What I find interesting is the statement that there will be no fundamental difference between the residential and online courses.

No fundamental difference? How can they be so sure--the program has not even started. Humm...all programs say that. But as with any program (live in the classroom or online or blended or videoconferencing or correspondence or whatever), with each teacher, each module, each resource, etc., that is different, the program is, in fact, different. Hec, I have taught a course on instructional strategies for over 20 years and this spring I changed nearly 50 percent of the activities. It was vastly different.

I think such statements are made so as to reduce fears of those enrolling as well as those potentially hiring the graduates of such programs. But, in my mind, if you are really good as an instructor, your class cannot be replicated. Each iteration should be highly unique and special. Those who like vanilla bland, same-same programming (i.e., prepackaged content) will bore students and instructors endlessly.

Perhaps you should read the press release...
Purdue to Launch Online Master's Program, March 20, 2011, News Release, Report.

I find it interesting that the Inside INdiana Business article is dated March 10, 2011 while the Purdue press release is dates 9 days from now or March 20, 2011. In effect, the news story got out 10 days early it seems. Perhaps they are concerned about the competition--there are many online master's programs in the field of instructional design and educational technology. There are also certificate programs. My program Instructional Systems Technology here at Indiana University in Bloomington has both online certificate as well as master's programs (and perhaps soon an online Ed.D.). Check out the IST Website for distance education courses, requirements, and forms.

As dozens of online master's in educational technology and learning technology spring up around the country and the world, there will be fewer needs for faculty members in my field to be place-based. But why are so many such online programs coming online today? Here are 14 reasons off the top of my head.

1. Keeping Up With the Joneses: To keep up with other programs. If IU does something, often you will see programs at Florida State or the University of Georgia or Missouri (where I was earlier this week), do the same or similar, and vice versa. Most of the prominent educational technology programs now have online master's degrees or at least are contemplating offering such degrees soon.

2. Faculty Interests and Skill Base: These are educatiional technology programs--certainly most faculty in such programs are interested in online learning or have technology skills in this area.

3. Jobs, Jobs, Jobs: As schools, colleges, and universities as well as businesses add online courses and programs, they most certainly need to hire more instructional designers and e-learning specialists. With the recent explosion of online and blended degrees, there are many jobs right now in this field (i.e., the demand). And, as a result, many people want to obtain the skills needed for such jobs (i.e., the supply). For those interested in educational technology job openings, see my ed tech jobs portal which has links to 34 job listing sites in the field.

4. Design, Development, and Deployment Costs: There is not a lot of capital needed to build such programs (compared to science and medical fields).

5. Demand: There is much demand from those working fulltime who are now seeking instructional design or new media skills in their spare time. Coming to campus for a face-to-face experience is not possible.

6. Branding, Recognition, and Recruitment: This is a means to advertise one's doctoral program--offer a certificate online and attract students to the master's...or offer a master's online and attract students to the doctorate. Successful online certificate programs and master's degrees help with the branding of the department or program.

7. Survival of the Fittest: For many programs in educational technology, they would not exist without the online master's or certificate program. Students do not have time for traditional, face-to-face classes. Courses and programs, and faculty within such courses and programs, must be nimble and flexible.

8. Tough Economic Times: Similarly...This is new money! Budgets are tight right now and administrators will take anything that provides a positive cash flow. And many online master's and certificate programs are doing just that today.

9. Campus or Organization Need, Niche, or Service: The online master's or certificate might be a service for other units on campus--i.e., training people who need skills in instructional design and development. It also might be part of a president's or dean's stated mission or state of the university address.

10. Expandable Faculty: With an online master's program, you can recruit clinical faculty from around the world (some famous and some former alumni). With that, you can potentially extend both the reach and reputation of the department.

11. Influence and Footprint: Purdue has great faculty (as do other programs like Michigan State which I reviewed in an earlier blog post) and so it is important to see how far the ideas, skills, and courses of such faculty can extend around this planet. Why not try to influence those thousands of miles away?

12. Template Exists: Once one program goes online, there is a template for how others can replicate and extend such a model.

13. Learner Expectations: At first, our online master's was unusual when it was first offered in the late 1990s. Now it has become the norm. Students simply expect educational technology programs to offer online master's degrees as well as certificates. And they can learn from those students who have successfully transversed through such online courses and programs.

14. Real-World Touch: Master's programs with those working fulltime provides a reality check for one's ideas, cases, and activities. With such students, there is a real world audience built into each course.

There are many types of people in the real world who might sign up. In fact, the INdiana Business article says: "Fields such as education, business, industry, and the military, have a need for effective training and instruction prepared by skilled professionals. Our program incorporates cutting-edge learning theory, educational technology and instructional development in a convenient online delivery method - taught by the same faculty as the on-campus classes."

This is true--there are many audiences for such online programs. I wish my colleagues at Purdue much success. They are great. One must also realize that they were not the first, nor will they be the last to offer such a program. By 2020, hundreds of such master's programs may exist. By 2030, most Ph.D.'s in my field will be online or blended (some FTF mentoring will still be needed at times). And by then, the field will have certainly morphed into something else. That morphing might be coming sooner than most people could be right around the corner in the next few years. But 20-30 years out is a pretty safe bet. Times will change and so will this field. Which people and places will recognize such and stay ahead of the field?

Those wanting more information can contact Purdue (see website for more details).
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About Me

Name: Curt Bonk
Home: Bloomington, Indiana, United States
About Me: I am a former accountant and CPA and a former educational psychologist. I am now Professor of IST at Indiana University and also adjunct in the School of Informatics. I founded and later sold SurveyShare. As president of CourseShare, LLC, I run around the world training instructors to teach online and give motivational talks about emerging learning technologies. I also write and edit books related to e-learning and blended learning. See bio and vita.

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Click here for information about my recent book, The World is Open: How Web Technology Is Revolutionizing Education.

Visit the Indiana University Home Page of E-Learning Expert Curtis J. Bonk.

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