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Date posted: November 25, 2011

The following seven key areas are being identified and described as the requirements for ensuring quality of teaching and learning in Online Education.

ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE
The organizational structure of the institution willing to offer Online Programmes should be according to the DEC NORMS FOR ENSURING QUALITY IN OPEN AND DISTANCE LEARNING (ODL) SYSTEM

However, in addition there should be the following human resource support:

  • A Person in-charge of Online Programmes to coordinate the programmes, human resources and technology infrastructure.  In Open Universities, this person may be designated as Director (Online Programmes).
  • There should be 1-2 technical persons to administer the technology and provide instructional design support on the LMS.
  • Adequate staff should be there to develop e-content (if in-house development is carried out).  In case of outsourcing of e-content development, sufficient project managers may be appointed to liase with the teachers and the outsourced agency.
  • Online Learner Help Desk (24X7) in the form of Call Centre may be there. 

PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT OF ACADEMIC PROGRAMMES – COURSEWARE

  • Planning a suitable online courseware format
  • Selection of appropriate authoring tools and relevant hardware (Server, LMS platform, etc.);
  • The online programme should emanate from/ be a part of the perspective plan;
  • Development of online programmes should go through three stages namely: Programme formulation, Instructional Design and  Development of courseware.

3. DESIGN OF E-CONTENT

  • Courseware developed should be in self-learning format having adequate hyperlinks pointing to relevant resources and could be in the form of a media mix comprising of text, audio, video animations, etc.
  • Production of courseware may be outsourced to professional agencies in case in- house facilities are not available, Also adequate training should be given to faculty on design and development of E- content.
  • Relevant approach may be followed with provision of multiple entry/ exit points, leading from lower to higher qualifications
  • Curriculum should be pitched at the level of the programme i.e. certificate/diploma/UG/PG/etc.
  • UGC model curriculum may be a point of reference, however, to meet the specific needs of learners and demands of the society (at large) is recommended
  • Expert Committees, with experts drawn from industry as well, should be constituted for the development of curriculum and the design of online programme
  • The programme should be approved by Statutory bodies of the University
  • Nomenclature of the degrees must be as per UGC guidelines
  • Courseware  should be uploaded before the launch of programme;
  • Courseware should be periodically updated;
  • Study input for each programme should be well defined in terms of credits (1 credit =30 study hours) depending on the level of the programme as given in Table1
  • Courseware should be available online 24X7  
  • E-content could be in the form of text, audio, video and animation.  The LMS used should integrate all learning objects.
  • Credit value of the programme to determine the number of units Online counseling forum with chat area for interacting with faculty and peers, assessment and evaluation through assignments as proposed   
  •  Online Courseware should follow the principles of self learning materials.

4. STUDENT ADMISSION

  • Online admission facility may be provided;
  • Prospectus and application form containing criteria for admission, fee and duration should be available online;
  • Online deposit of student fee and generation of fee receipt for the learner for his/her records may be made available;
  • Issue of personal passwords to all learners.

5. LEARNER SUPPORT SERVICES

  • Organized learner support through Online chat rooms, email facility, bulletin boards, video conferencing with the faculty and university Administration;
  • Help Desk to provide both academic and administrative support services, such as dissemination of information, counseling and tutoring services, vocational guidance, multimedia support, library services,  evaluation of assignments, feedback, guidance of project work, organization of  seminars, conduct of online examinations, etc.;
  • Information of available support services should be prominently displayed /flashed on the website;
  • The University/ Institution should also cater to the special needs and requirements of diverse online learner groups including women, physically challenged, economically weaker sections of the society and other deprived and denied groups by adopting a diversified delivery approach
  • Institution to make arrangements for digital library facility to be accessed by enrolled learners
  • Online tutors be provided to handle chat and discussion forum online
  • Adequate training should be given to online tutors
  • The Help Desk Centre would be available to learners 24X7 to solve technical and administrative problems
  • Institution  to maintain online records pertaining to:
  • Tutor- Counsellors and Staff
  • Students Registered
  • Counselling Sessions
  • Assignments Received, Evaluated and Returned
  • Student Queries
  • Administration and Finance
  • Student feedback about the course, delivery, counsellor/teacher, facilities, environments, etc.
  • Access to the above data should be restricted to the University/ Institution Administration.  Learner data should not be shared without permission of the Vice Chancellor
  • A time frame policy should be in place for replying to the student queries within the stipulated time
  • Periodic feedback to be obtained from the online students related to quality of courseware, quality of tutor support and quality of administrative support
  • Periodic webinars on contemporary or significant topics should be conducted by the institution
  • Information about such webinars should be displayed on the website and e-mailed to all the concerned faculty and learners
  • Such webinars would be free of cost for registered students of the institution.  Fee may be charged from those if they are interested to participate
  • The tutor student ratio should not exceed 1:20 in a semester/cycle for discussion forum and chat session
  • Institution should get the assignments evaluated within maximum 4 weeks from the date of receipt and provide feedback to the learners highlighting the deficiencies and strengths.

6. LEARNER ASSESSMENT AND EVALUATION

  • Assessment should be both formative as well as summative.
  • Formative assessment should be through online computer marked assessment, tutor marked assignments projects, discussion forum, and webinars linked to the objectives and desired competencies / skills or expected learning outcomes.
  • Turn around time for providing feedback on performance to the learners should not exceed 2 weeks and definitely before the terminal exam commences.
  • Formative assessment should contribute to 25% to 30% weightage in the overall assessment;
  • Summative assessment should be in the form of online exams for or any other comprehensive method of assessment
  • Students should be able to submit tutor marked assignments online and receive feedback within reasonable time
  • Formative assessment descriptive and objective and application oriented contributing to 70%-75% in the overall assessment.  This may be conducted online in a proctored system
  • Tools of assessment should be prepared by empanelled experts;
  • All tools of assessment should be moderated before being administered to ensure reliability and validity and standards as per the level of the programme
  • Term-end examination should be held twice a year and the timetable should be circulated to the learners 3 months in advance and put on the website and e-mailed to all the learners
  • Accurate compilation/ tabulation of grades/ marks by the exam unit for each learner, course wise need be maintained
  • Evaluation of term end exam papers, assignments, projects etc. should be done by empanelled evaluators, it should not be outsourced
  • Time schedules should be adhered to particularly in the declaration of results within a period of 4 weeks.
  • Dispatch of provisional certificates to learners immediately after declaration of results
  • Timely award of Degrees or Diplomas

7. Technology Infrastructure and Use 

  • Every University/ Institution should have its own Website ;
  • All the relevant information, about various, courses, fee structure,     rules,  Examination, etc. must be available on the Website;
  • The institution  should inform the prospective learners about the technical requirements to join an online programme;
  • The institution should create access centres to facilitate easy access to internet
  • The institution should have access to a LMS installed on their own server or outsourced from other service providers
  • The institution should provide an e-mail account to all enrolled learners through its institutional mail server
  • There should be appropriate bandwidth available to allow easy access of the website/LMS to the learners
  • There should be a user policy regarding use of the institutional website/ LMS to prevent misuse, and all users must agree to the policy
  • User password shall be protected by the institution, and only the user should be able to change it
  • IP capturing may be considered to ensure security
  • Users (both learners and teaches) may be provided regular orientation on technology use

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