By MICHAEL SANKEY
In April 2019 the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency released two Guidance Notes of particular interest for those dealing with technology enhanced learning (TEL), that have largely gone under the radar (seemingly), but have a strong linkage to how institutions can demonstrate evidence to meet Higher Education Standards (HES) 2.1 and 3.3, and to assure their learning environments, resources and educational support.
The two Notes deal with Technology-Enhanced Learning and External Referencing (including Benchmarking). Together, there is a clear message that TEQSA is looking to ensure institutions are actively engaging in strategies that; (i) ensure an equivalency of practice between on-campus, blended and fully online courses and (ii) is being externally referenced, primarily by way of benchmarking practice with external competitors.
Individually, the context of each Note is broader than TEL, nevertheless connecting these two documents leads HE providers to framework these activities. Not surprisingly, in the first instance, there are requirements for policies, procedures and processes. Linked to this, governance bodies must mediate a series of internal standards/guidelines to ensure a consistency of TEL practice at both the program and course/unit level, across all modes of delivery.
Not rocket science. But how does one benchmark this?
Recently the Australasian Council on Open, Distance and eLearning (ACODE) announced the dates of their next biannual TEL benchmarking activity, that 39 Australasian universities have participated in since 2014. The 2020 event will be held at Griffith University between the 22-24 June. This may seem distant, but if one were to consider undertaking such an exercise some significant preparations are required.
The benefits of Benchmarking are many, but put simply, as the TEQSA Guidance Note does: “Its purpose is to identify comparative strengths and weaknesses, as a basis for developing improvements in academic quality or performance.” Improvements that, first and foremost, benefit our students.
Professor Michael Sankey