Department of Education
Quality education is a universal goal. It is common to hear arguments that instructional technology will be the key to educational quality as we enter the new millennium. Investment in educational technology is urged upon policy-makers as the path to educational quality. In fact, enthusiasts for educational technology argue that quality has and will continue to increase rapidly, creating a "new educational culture" Whatever problems exist are seen as ones which can be handled through better administrative and technological planning - that is, technology believers perceive no intrinsic obstacles to total quality assurance using information technology in higher education. Other voices question educational technology as a panacea. The problems associated with technology in the college classroom in terms of issues such as poorly functioning equipment, over-promotion of technology-based learning to students, and lack of quality in courses delivered by technology. Educational technology who say students choosing online courses are not getting the education they pay for, and question whether universities should be providing such instruction. The American Federation of Teachers and other faculty organizations have also raised serious cautions about web-based education and have even gone on strike over it. Technology in Quality Education
In response to growing criticism of the recent, rapid, unregulated growth of distance education, a number of recognized higher education organizations have formulated quality standards and guidelines. The principles have been endorsed by a number of higher education governing and policymaking bodies in the world, as well as by the regional accrediting community. The core assumption of these guidelines is that, "The institution's programs holding specialized accreditation meet the same requirements when offered electronically." Since these guidelines are a widely-accepted definition of "quality" as applied to online education, they are quoted below: * Each program of study results in learning outcomes appropriate to the rigor and breadth of the degree or certificate awarded. * An electronically offered degree or certificate program is coherent and complete. * The program provides for appropriate real-time or delayed interaction between faculty and students and among students. * Qualified faculty provides appropriate oversight of the program electronically offered. * The program is consistent with the institution's role and mission. * Review and approval processes ensure the appropriateness of the technology being used to meet the program's objectives. * The program provides faculty support services specifically related to teaching via an electronic system. * The program provides training for faculty who teach via the use of technology. * The program ensures that appropriate learning resources are available to students. * The program provides students with clear, complete, and timely information on the curriculum, course and degree requirements, nature of faculty/student interaction, assumptions about technological competence and skills, technical equipment requirements, availability of academic support services and financial aid resources, and costs and payment policies. * Enrolled students have reasonable and adequate access to the range of student services appropriate to support their learning. * Accepted students have the background, knowledge, and technical skills needed to undertake the program. * Advertising, recruiting, and admissions materials clearly and accurately represent the program and the services available. * Policies for faculty evaluation include appropriate consideration of teaching and scholarly activities related to electronically offered programs. * The institution...