Quality Framework: Course Implementation (Delivery)

Learning in a TIBL Blended Learning course means micro learning anywhere at any time.

This part of the framework describes the delivery and the implementation of the Blended Learning Course. The framework is based on the E-xcellence Framework of the EADTU published for the use of e-Learning in Higher Education (beides groß oder nichts).

The Benchmarks below are from EADTU Excellence and the use of E-xcellence quality associates label in this context has been done with the agreement and consent of the EADTU (European Association of Distance Teaching Universities). In case of any adaption of the benchmarks suiting the context the original benchmark may be found in the comments below  The original framework is available from https://e-xcellence.eadtu.eu/

The numbers in brackets refer to the EADTU Benchmarks, and the comments below are party from E-xcellence and party accommodated to the VET sector.

The adaptation has been done using the existing definitions and descriptions, but altering them and adapting them to the typical environment and use in Vocational Education and Training. The text has been adapted in writing and in terminology to the typical VET environment. Some well-fitting statements have been taken 1:1.

Additional content

Additional content has been taken from the Grundtvig Multilateral Project “Blended Learning Quality-Concepts Optimized for Adult Education” ( with the EU project number 539717-LLP-1-2013-1-IT-GRUNDTVIG-GMP) as a transfer of the project results from Adult Education to Vocational Education and Training (EFQBL, Digilab and Fundación SAFA were active partners in that Grundtvig Project).

Technical Infrastructure

  1. The technical infrastructure maintaining the e-learning system is fit for purpose and supports both academic and administrative functions. Technical specification is based on stakeholder requirements and involves realistic estimates of system usage and development.

Effective delivery of e-learning courses requires a computer-based system capable of:

  • registering students to courses and programmes;
  • distributing e-learning materials to students;
  • maintaining and updating records of student performance;
  • conducting aspects of e-business with respect to student fees etc.;
  • facilitating communication between the institution, its students, staff and affiliate staff (if any).

The institution itself may acquire, operate and maintain this system; alternatively the facilities may be provided via outsourcing arrangements with a third-party.
It is recommended that there is a survey and analysis of stakeholder expectations of the e-learning system. Major stakeholder groups are academics, administrators, students, and those providing on-line tutorial support.
The technical design must take account of anticipated course use by students, administrative transactions and download requirements. Realistic assumptions of student usage patterns (e.g. prediction of peak periods such as assignment submission) should be used in estimation of server and connectivity requirements.
Arrangements for backup, archiving and recovery should be specified as an integral element of the technical specification.

Technical Infrastructure

The technical infrastructure is maintaining the onsite learning infrastructure as well as the distance learning platform, which fits for purpose and supports training as well as social and administrative functions. Technical specification is based on stakeholder requirements and involves realistic estimates of system usage and development [BM 19]

The technical infrastructure is well defined and supports institutional Blended Learning objectives. The system meets the equipment and connectivity requirements of learners. This covers specifically

  • Registration of trainees
  • Distribution of training material
  • Maintenance of trainees’ performance (adequate user activity tracking system)
  • Facilitating the communication between involved stakeholders (especially trainees, trainers, and – if applicable – support staff).

There are secure systems for storing and analyzing data on trainees’ learning activity and interactions.

Arrangements for backup, archiving and recovery should be specified as an integral element of the technical specification.

Regularly done surveys and analysis of stakeholder expectations of the (technical) training system should be foreseen. Major stakeholder groups are trainers, administrators, trainees,  and those providing online tutorial support.

If applicable: Any necessary contractual relationships with partners or service providers are in place and well-defined.

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Communication

  1. The systems for communication and provision of information are secure, reliable and assure appropriate levels of privacy. Measures are in place for system recovery in the event of failure or breakdown.

Good performance against this benchmark is dependent on effective design and management of technical systems. A system that is not professionally managed is unlikely to perform well against these criteria.
The institution must have a clear set of standards for the operation of the technical infrastructure, together with evidence of compliance with these standards. Key performance indicators such as system availability, down-time, queuing time for access, etc. should be monitored and available for review.
The VLE must provide sufficient security of all personal details and of all communications between student, teacher and institution.

Communication

The systems for communication and storage of data are secure, reliable and assure appropriate levels of privacy. Measures are in place for system recovery in the event of failure or breakdown. [BM 20]

Communication systems must be in-line with the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation of the European Commission from 2016). This provides sufficient security of all personal details and of all communications between trainees, trainers and institution.

The institution must have a clear set of binding guidelines for the operation of the technical infrastructure, together with evidence of compliance with these guidelines. Key performance indicators such as system availability, down-time, queuing time for access, etc. should be monitored and available for review.

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Learning System Quality

  1. Appropriate provision is made for system maintenance, monitoring and review of performance against the standards set. These standards are updated when necessary.

This benchmark expands on the previous statement and applies the principle of effective professional management to the delivery of services. Attention to the following factors is necessary to ensure good performance. 

 

  • Technical requirements of the system are monitored on a regular basis.
  • IT professionals operate the system to the standards commonly encountered in the commercial customer service sector.
  • Comprehensive documentation of operational procedures is evident.
  • Logbooks and other routine record keeping should demonstrate whether the standards set are being achieved.

 

 

The system must allow for data collection on many aspects of its operation and use.

Learning System Quality

Appropriate provision is made for system maintenance, monitoring and review of performance against the standards set. These standards are updated when necessary. [BM 21]

The provided learning platform is appropriate for the Onsite Training as well as for the Distance Learning. The system provides robust privacy, and this applies to personal data and interactions.

The learning platform captures data that can be used for learning analytics approaches (or tracking assignments of trainees) and there are appropriate reporting tools such as dashboards for the users of this data.

The learning platform and resources demonstrate ease of use for all target users, including people with disabilities.

The learning platform provides and enables personalization of the training.

Additionally, specific tasks are implemented:

  • Technical requirements of the system are monitored on a regular basis.
  • Comprehensive documentation of operational procedures is evident.
  • System logs and other routine record keeping should demonstrate whether the standards set are being achieved.
  • Professional operating of the system is ensured (by either the IT department of the SME or by a contract with an external IT specialist).

The system must allow data collection on many aspects of its operation and use.

The system is regularly updated and brought to the current level of the “state of the art”. This covers innovation as well as security updates.

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Learning Platform & Onsite Training

  1. E-learning systems provide a choice of online tools which are appropriate for the educational models adopted and for the requirements of students and educators.

The design and management of the virtual learning environment (VLE), or other e-learning system, should support the achievement of pedagogic objectives. This should be evident in the processes used to acquire, implement and manage the system.
The systems must allow for management of all processes from course authoring to delivery of the course materials to students and recording their performance.
The system may need to be compatible with many pre-existing systems within an institution, e.g. its student registration system. Some institutions may choose to implement a VLE by an internal systems integration project.
The core of the VLE is the system that undertakes the delivery of e-learning materials to students. Its facilities influence the nature of the teaching process and student interactions that can be offered. The e-learning system should address the needs of users for easy access and high quality interaction with the learning materials.
To achieve this, the VLE needs to offer a range of tools such as quizzes, forums, wikis, text chat and web conferencing.

Learning Platform & Onsite Training

E-learning systems provide a choice of online tools which are appropriate for the educational models adopted and for the requirements of students and educators. The platform should cover the onsite training as well as the distance learning. [BM 22]

The content is presented in a learner-oriented fashion. Policies for delivery of materials are consistent with the technical infrastructure available to students, especially for the use of multiple devices. The training materials (for onsite teaching as well as for the Distance Learning) take opportunities for interactivity and active learning.

The systems must allow the management of all processes from course authoring to delivery of the course materials to students and recording their performance.

Course materials and delivery systems are technically tested under realistic conditions.

There is a system for securing and recording the rights necessary for use of third-party resources in teaching materials.

The learning platform is available (and used) for the Onsite Training as well (if it is foreseen in the course structure). This enables a comprehensive evaluation of trainees’ involvement and training results.

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Pre-information for the Trainees

  1. Information about how to use the institution’s e-learning systems and services is provided to all users in a logical, consistent and reliable way.

There should be clear information available to students and other interested parties about e-learning courses and how they are presented: for example, mechanisms for dissemination of course materials, and types of assessment.
Information may be extracted to suit the needs of differing audiences and modes of presentation, for example prospective students, enrolled students, system managers and student support agents.
Achievement of good performance in this area will be indicated by user satisfaction. Satisfaction should be based on ease of access, completeness, relevance, up-to-date information, coherence, consistency etc.

Pre-information for the Trainees

Information about how to use the institution’s e-learning systems and services is provided to all users in a logical, consistent and reliable way.

Trainees participating at a Blended Learning course are adequately informed of the courses available to them and the requirements for study. They also are supplied with all necessary information about the learning system (and – if necessary – are instructed in special training to use the systems).

Details of course delivery are provided to trainees in a clear and accessible  way.

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Quality of learning material

  1. Institutional materials and information accessible through the VLE are regularly monitored, reviewed and updated. The responsibility for this is clearly defined and those responsible are provided with appropriate and secure access to the system to enable revision and updating.

The e-learning provision must be monitored, managed and updated on a continuous basis to ensure its effectiveness. Monitoring student use may make an important contribution to successful performance in this area.
Monitoring should cover the detailed operational aspects of the system (performance, availability, capacity utilization, user error reports etc.) and also the performance of the human support systems.
Student surveys administered on-line, routinely as part of courses and by random selection, should be augmented by consultation with the student body regarding the effectiveness of the system. This information should be used to inform future development.

Quality of learning material

Institutional materials and information accessible through the VLE are regularly monitored, reviewed and updated. The responsibility for this is clearly defined and those who are responsible are provided with appropriate and secure access to the system to enable revision and updating. [BM 24]

The training provision must be monitored, managed and updated on a continuous basis to ensure its effectiveness, this should be done including trainees’ feedback. Monitoring trainees use may make an important contribution to successful performance and possible amendments in the training material in this area.

Trainees surveys administered on-line, routinely as part of training courses and by random selection, should be augmented by consultation with the trainees’ body regarding the effectiveness of the technical system. This information should be used as an impact to future development addressing technical systems as well as the training courses.

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The TIBL method enhances the given benchmarks with three additional items. These benchmarks origin from the Grundtvig Multilateral Project “Blended Learning Quality-Concepts Optimized for Adult Education” (with the EU project number 539717-LLP-1-2013-1-IT-GRUNDTVIG-GMP) as a transfer of the project results from Adult Education to Vocational Education and Training (EFQBL, Digilab and Fundación SAFA were active partners in that Grundtvig Project)..

Access to training material

All training materials should be available (centralized) from the learning platform.

Centralized provided training material and activities (even if they access sources from outside) enable an appropriate working style. This means that all assessments, tasks, assignments, assessments and other related activities are initiated from the learning platform.

Material which is  not directly available on the learning platform must be integrated and inserted in a proper way.

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Course culture

Specific guidelines should be agreed at the beginning of the course to provide an appropriate training culture.

This should cover specific expectations like

  • Response time (between peers as well as trainers and trainees) in all course related matters
  • Type of response
  • “Netiquette” in social interactions within all stakeholders of the course

Course culture is a “soft fact” and must be evaluated continuously in an appropriate way.

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Feedback to trainees

Feedback is a key part of the course culture. 

Feedback fosters the growth of trainees (as well as trainers) and favor the training results. Feedback must focus on

  • Organizational facts (feedback-giving persons, frequency, type of feedback and similar items)
  • Appropriate and optimized feedback channels
  • Nurture and positive motivating ways and strategies
  • Strengthen the engagement of the trainees

Feedback culture must also be evaluated regularly to care for a continuous enhancement and amendment process.

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