Online education is changing traditional models of higher education; and is supporting a wider range of educational choices for students, increasing flexibility in delivery and lowering the costs of provision. Students are able to access globally recognised qualifications, without the costs of physically moving across borders. While these developments present considerable opportunities for the region, there are also significant challenges. As in all education offerings, there is a broad quality spectrum in online and blended learning offerings. There is a risk that poor quality offerings will develop as economies try to keep up with the shifting focus on technology in teaching and learning.
This project will benefit APEC members and the region by helping governments and quality assurance agencies develop a clear understanding of best practice in online learning, and by providing a toolkit to assist economies to understand how to quality assure online education. This project is designed to build the capacity and preparedness of quality assurance agencies to evaluate the quality of online and blended learning degrees, including those developed within their economy. This in turn will assist local institutions seeking approval to deliver blended models with international providers. It will also help to build understanding and acceptance of high quality online learning, enabling greater flexibility in transnational education and recognition of qualifications delivered through online education in the region.
Planned activities include:
· The development of a discussion paper on quality assuring online learning, including a toolkit for the quality assurance of online courses.
· A two−day workshop to develop a shared understanding of online quality assessment and the introduction of the APEC toolkit for Quality Assurance of Online Learning.
· A series of in−economy consultations to apply the toolkit to further develop country−specific quality assurance frameworks and processes
This project supports APEC’s commitment to promoting Cross Border Education (CBE) Cooperation, which was endorsed by APEC Leaders in 2012. The CBE agenda seeks to enhance the mobility of providers and boost existing bilateral agreements, as outlined in the APEC priority of Promoting Connectivity and Leaders' statements in 2013, 2014 and 2015. This priority is supported by APEC economies in the HRDWG 2015 Strategic Plan and Work Plan. The commitment to enhanced cross−border education cooperation reflects the importance of this cooperation in fostering innovative growth as education providers build scientific, technological and linguistic communities.