GUIDELINE ON QUALITY OF DISTANCE EDUCATION FOR EXTERNAL STUDENTS AT THE HEI S OF PAKISTAN

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1 GUIDELINE ON QUALITY OF DISTANCE EDUCATION FOR EXTERNAL STUDENTS AT THE HEI S OF PAKISTAN (QUALITY ASSURANCE DIVISION) HIGHER EDUCATION COMMISSION (HEC) ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN 0

2 Module 1: Guidelines for Establishment of Directorate of Distance Education at Six Selected Universities of Pakistan List of Content Content Page no. 1. Objective of Module Background Mission statement of Directorate of Distance Education Infrastructure and Technology Faculty Development and Personnel Training Quality Assurance of Distance Education program Entry Requirement Phases of Admission Criteria Students Financial Support/ Scholarships Examination Outreach Elements in Distance Education Programs Motivation for Distance Learners Tutor- Students Interaction Students Assessment Uniform Standards for Quality Distance Education Phases in Admission Criteria Student Support 13 1

3 Module 1: Guidelines for Establishment of Directorate of Distance Education at Six Selected Universities of Pakistan 1.0 Objectives of Module: The module on guidelines for establishment of Directorate of Distance Education (DDE) at six selected Universities of Pakistan has been developed to achieve the following objectives: 1.1 To replace current scheme of appearing as private candidate with distance learners. 1.2 To facilitate private candidates at Graduate and Master level who cannot afford the facility of getting education as regular students. 1.3 To narrow down the quality gap between private and regular students. 1.4 To increase the success ratio of private students in the examinations and to ultimately improve the opportunities of employment for them. 1.5 To build up capacity of large Public sector Universities to deliver quality education to private students through distance means. 1.6 To build up capacity of universities to deliver material for private students. 1.7 To streamline administrative procedures for provision of quality education to private students. 2.0 Background It is an estimated guess that 70% of the total candidates are registered as private candidates in particular universities. These students do not attend any regular studies. They start self-study for their exams before two or three months and pass examination through memorization of some selected content of the course. It has been observed generally that knowledge and skill level and quality of these students is not as good as those of regular students of universities. Furthermore, this type of practice of appearing as private candidates are not 2

4 observed anywhere in the world. The best possible way to improve the quality of private candidates is to provide them better education facilities through distance education. Distance education is a system of education in which instructor and students have no face to face interactions rather they communicate with each other through distance modes of learning like correspondence through postal mail, online interaction through video or audio conferencing, electronic mail, etc. A degree or certificate program is considered distance education when a substantial number of credit hours (fifty percent or more of the courses for the program) will be delivered through distance education. In recent times, courses in distance education are offered in blended way. It means that some courses are offered through traditional face to face instruction where as some courses are offered using any one mode of distance education through ICT like Internet video or audio conferencing, electronic mail, radio, television, Internet, cable, broadband lines, fiber optics, satellite, wireless communications devices, etc. Provision and expansion of facilities for expending population of the country are the need of the hour. For this purpose distance education is the most effective tool in order to provide educational facilities to maximum population in a cost effective manner. The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE, 2001) described nine aspects of commitment. These were: financial commitment, the physical plant, articulation and other policies, technical support, legal compliance, etc. Followings are suggested guidelines for establishment of Directorate of Distance Education at six selected Universities of Pakistan to assure quality of distance education and to promote quality higher education facilities through distance means for our private candidates inside and outside Pakistan 3

5 3.0. Mission Statement and Commitment of Directorates of Distance Education 3.1 The directorate of distance education (DDE) of the university has clear and written mission statement and it should be publically available. 3.2 The mission statement itself promises the commitment to quality education of distance students by keeping in focus to narrow down the gap between private and regular students and is committed to provide quality education facility to distance students. 3.3 The mission statement reflects the national aim of education. The DDE has developed a policy to review its mission statement periodically. The mission statement is known to all stakeholders. 4.0 Infrastructure and Technology The DDE should have sufficient resources and infrastructure; physical, financial and human to continue distance education programs on sustainable basis The DDE has sustainable financing for continuous provision of quality distance education programs. It has sustainable financing and expertise for continuous provision of quality distance education programs It has sufficient infrastructures like physical and digital library latest technology resources, and equipment related to programs of distance education. DDE makes it sure that it has rich resourceful physical as well as digital libraries available for all its students with approach to latest material globally available Supplementary benefits are provided to faculty members for their extensive effort in making distance education program successful. 4

6 5.0 Faculty Development and Personnel Training: Competent and experienced senior faculty members and evaluators are recruited to evaluate performance of distance education instructors. The strategic plan of DDE includes provision for training of faculty members and staff development activities regarding dealing with distance students and distance education programs. The tutors/faculty members working with distance education are trained for their roles as facilitators of learning for distance learners through specific techniques of instruction for teaching students of distance education. 6.0 Quality Assurance of Distance Education Program The DDE of the university never compromises on quality of education. It has a particular system of quality assurance in order to check the quality of all aspects of DE programs. The end products (students) meet the requirements of the stakeholders The DDE consults quality enhancement cell (QEC) of the university in order to make their programs effective It has been observed that students of DE indulge in unethical practices. In order to check these practices strict measures are to be introduced by the DDE for maintaining quality of DE program. The programs offered by DDE are reflecting the national needs and global trends. 7.0 Entry Requirement: Complete information regarding minimum entry criteria/ requirements and other prerequisites for distance education programs and courses are clearly described in the booklet/ prospectus of the university There is complete detail about all programs offered for distance students. So that students may have chance to select program/ course that is relevant to their interest and needs. 5

7 7.0.3 The DDE has clearly documented the required prior knowledge and skills for pursuing the course and regularly advertises admission requirements for through local newspapers as well as it is displayed on the University website The description of courses offered by the DDE of the university present the future benefits of the programs being offered so as to make students familiar with market values of these programs. 8.0 Phases of Admission Criteria: Phase -1: At Phase -1 all students having certain percentage in their previous degree/ certificate can be admitted to DE programs in order to promote distance education programs of the university. Phase -2: The DDE has planned to recruit test developers for the purpose of developing aptitude test for recruitment of students according to their aptitude so as to make distance education system quality oriented. This practice of DE uplifts the status of DE programs as compare to some conventional programs of universities. Phase -3: After certain period, when the DDE has get familiarity with students population in certain programs of DE, and when DDE has aptitude tests for admission into various disciplines, then at Phase -3 DDE makes mandatory the administration of aptitude test for entry into each discipline of DE courses/ programs. 9.0 Students Financial Support/ Scholarships: It is observed that students generally do not get admission in regular program of the university for higher education because they do not afford the heavy fees of the university. Therefore, keeping in view the financial status of private candidates, who are now distance 6

8 students, DDE has introduced financial support system to needy candidates in shape of talent scholarships or interest free bank loans for education purposes Students who are enrolled in any program of distance education and show remarkable performance in program through getting percentage/ GPA are exempted from payment of any fee and all paid fee will be refunded to such students. In this way brilliant students will be enrolled in DE programs Examination: Time line to be provided to the learners by some system that they are studying especially if it is annual system. Each university has developed its own strategy, milestones, etc. for distance education with overall alignment to HEC PC-1. It is up to the university to adopt annual or semester system and conduct exams of distance students accordingly. The assessment strategies and validity and administration of examination system itself encourage distance students to complete their courses. The results of examination are used to improve courses of distance education Outreach Elements in Distance Education Programs: Course Delivery at Door Step: There is a preplanned calendar of course delivery procedure. Students who are selected on the advertised criteria for admission into particular courses of distance education are informed through mail about their enrollment in the course. It is made sure that students study material and all related material is mailed on the address provided in form on well in time and through reliable mail sources. The DDE makes sure through certain means that students have no complaints about delivery of course study material and likewise other related information like date-sheets, results or any other information related to their course well in time. 7

9 Self- Study Material: As distance students have some specific learning needs, therefore, DDE will be responsible for reorganizing courses for distance learners. DDE can design course modules based on traditional courses of the university and focusing individualized instruction in module development. Course is designed by incorporating various self-learning strategies. The study material of the course is designed and presented based on mastery learning principles of self-learning in linier way where rapid feedback is provided to students on their performance. Each course has separate name and a separate course code which differentiate it from other courses. In addition each course starts with statement of course objectives and course learning outcomes. The study material and the activities of the course are designed in a way to achieve objectives of the course. Students learning assessment activities are developed in a way to provide students an opportunity to assess their learning outcomes through these activities. Universities have already implemented Higher Education Commission (HEC) curriculum for graduate and master level courses. Therefore, the current curriculum of traditional courses of the university is redesigned based on self-learning principles for distance education students. Actually, curricula of distance course are developed to answer questions like: What are the skills and knowledge we have planned to transmit through correspondence program? Whether our course objectives, methodology, course content and communication method for the suggested course, everything is in alignment with each other. The activities within DE courses are designed to focus following four pillars of distance education: Learning to know means to learn in order to gain knowledge. Learning to do, to acquire knowledge and skill and the competence to deal with it in many situations. Learning to live together, by developing an understanding of other people and an 8

10 appreciation of interdependence, carrying out joint projects and learning to manage conflicts, in a respect of mutual values, mutual understanding and peace. Learning to be, so as to better develop one s personality and be able to act with judgment and personal responsibility. On the basis of the assumption that adolescents should learn to be and to live together, there is a need for the provision of a more relevant education which moves beyond the acquisition of knowledge and technical /vocational skills Motivation for Distance Learners: One of best practice in DE is to enhance distance learners motivation through relevant learning experiences which are related to their real life situations. Activities and projects of DE course are designed in such a way that is relevant to students real life experiences Distance learners are motivated by making them familiar with objectives and expected outcomes of the programs that students are going to pursuit Distance students are provided timeline regarding activities of their course like due date of assignment submission, date of their tutorial, date of final examination, commencement of next activity of their course etc Attendance is made mandatory at local/ regional tutors meeting and is fixed at a minimum desired level. If this desirable level is not attained by the distance students, then they can be asked to repeat it. Until they have not repeated it, they may not be issued roll number slip for sitting in the examination The DDE has a well-structured timeline plan which is much more structured than it is in a traditional course to motivate their distance students. The plan itself is a motivator for managing students learning activities. 9

11 There are four foundational principles that motivate distance students to learn: Establishing inclusion: creating a learning atmosphere in which learners and instructors feel respected and connected to one another. The course tutors are given training for providing this type of motivation to distance learners. Developing attitude: creating a favorable temperament toward the learning experience through personal relevance and choice. This motivation is given in choice of course of their own interest and need. Enhancing meaning and Engendering competence: creating challenging, thoughtful learning experiences that include learners perspectives and values and creating an understanding that learners are effective in learning something they value. The learning activities in self study material are designed on challenging learning experiences. Encouraging Connectedness: creating sense of belongingness that students are an important part of the program. They are connected to their tutors in respectful way. instructor are respected by and connected to one another Tutor- Students Interaction: Teacher and learner interaction is facilitated through traditional and electronic mail and tutor s feedback on students assignments. The American Federation of Teachers report Distance Education: Guidelines for Good Practice posits (2001) recommended close personal interaction between students and teachers of DE. The IHE report (2000) about Teaching and Learning in DE further recommended that student s interaction with faculty and with other students as an essential characteristic that could be facilitated through a variety of technologies In order provide face to face interaction experience to distance students, it is essential that the DDE of the university has a weekly planned schedule of teacher- student meeting and it is mandatory 10

12 component of the program to attend and it is sent to students along with study material so that students are well in time informed about the due date of their meetings with their course instructor Students Assessment: For the purpose of providing motivation for learning and assess teaching learning process, the DE programs has a plan for formative evaluation of students in shape of writing course assignment and final comprehensive examination as summative evaluation Students assessment Curricula of DE is designed on, where students have opportunities to analyze and assess their own progress within their course. In order to develop life skills in distance learners, educational conferences and seminars are arranged at regional/ local level where distance learners are provided an opportunity to present an article / essay and it is made mandatory component of the distance course Uniform Standards for Quality Distance Education: 1. Mission statement of Directorate of Distance Education (DDE): The DDE offering has clear and written mission statement about promotion of distance education course in order to narrow down quality gap between private and regular students. 2. Organizational Structure of DDE: The Directorate of Distance Education have suitable organizational structure for offering and dealing with quality- based DE programs. 3. DDE Resources and Infrastructure: The Directorate of Distance Education has sustainable financing for continuous provision of quality distance education programs. They have sufficient infrastructures like latest technology resources, expertise and equipment related to programs of distance education. 11

13 4. Entry Criteria: Students are provided adequate advertisement about recruitment for admission, admission criteria, course structure, qualifying criteria for award of degree, semester duration, examination rules, fee information, future benefits of the program, financial support to students, and requirements for each course of DE. The entry criteria into distance education are raised gradually through phases Phases in Admission Criteria: It is a fact that the purpose of distance education is to expand educational facilities for private students who do not have opportunities to enhance their educational qualification through general education. However, it is essential to achieve quality in distance higher education programs. For this purpose, it is suggested that there is at least a set standard/ criteria for entry in to various distance courses of higher education level. However it is done through phases: Phase -1: At Phase -1 all students having certain percentage in their previous degree/ certificate can be admitted to DE programs in order to promote distance education programs of the university Phase -2: The DDE has planned to recruited test developers for the purpose of developing aptitude test for recruitment of students according to their aptitude so as to make distance education system quality oriented. This practice of DE uplifts the status of DE programs as compare to some conventional programs of universities Phase -3: After certain period, when the DDE has get familiarity with students population in certain programs of DE, and when DDE has aptitude tests for admission into various disciplines, then at Phase -3 DDE makes mandatory the 12

14 administration of aptitude test for entry into each discipline of DE courses/ programs Student Support: Students are provided academic advising services and financial support to needy students and they are provided other related facilities, at regional centers Monitoring of Distance Education Programs: There is continuous monitoring and evaluation system in DDE to evaluate customers satisfaction with the offered program. DE programs are sensitive towards students needs, problems and feelings like tradition students Information about Distance Students: Complete profile of distance students enrolled in various programs regarding their characteristics, and the social, financial, technical background is available with the DDE Student Learning Outcomes and Evaluation of Distance education Programs: The DDE has well defined system to evaluate the quality of distance learning programs and students learning outcomes which is done through DDE s comprehensive evaluation and assessment system of distance education courses to evaluate their effectiveness. This comprehensive evaluation system includes assessment of students learning outcomes, number of students admitted in courses and their rate of retention, students satisfaction about programs offered by DDE of the university, tutor s performance evaluation, evaluation of course content Monitoring: The DDE has a monitoring system to check the successful running of its offered programs of DE. There is a hierarchy in its monitoring system where honest and experienced vigilance team is appointed to monitor various 13

15 elements of the DE programs like assignments of students, attendance checking at regional centers, checking of mal practices in examination centers, etc. Checklist for Quality Assurance of Distance Education Programs in the Light of HEC PC-1 for Establishment of Directorate of Distance Education at Six universities in Pakistan: Does DDE has a clear and written mission statement that promises to narrow quality gap between private and regular students and make sense towards this statement? Does DDE adhere the policy guidelines for distance education provided by the HEC? Is DDE committed to provide distance education facilities to all private candidates without any discrimination? Is DDE committed to provide quality distance education facilities to private students so that the current status of private degree is raised in market and ultimately improving employment opportunities for them? Has DDE an organized system for training its faculty members for dealing with distance learners? Is faculty competent engaged in offering distance learning programs and do they have adequate training resources, and facilities to deal with DE programs? Does DDE recruit highly qualified and experienced faculty for distance courses in case of shortage of faculty at campus? Is the Directorate of Distance Education suitably structured to offer quality distance learning programs? Does the Directorate of Distance Education sustain adequate financing to offer quality distance learning? Are students provided academic advising, financial support, and instructional materials to pursue distance learning? Does the DDE evaluate in routine, the quality of distance learning programs on evidence of students achievement? Following documents were consulted while preparing the present guidelines for quality distance higher education in The country: 14

16 1. Dr. Sufiana K. Malik. (2010). Role of Distance education in the Expansion of Female Higher Education in The country- A Review. Published in Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education-TOJDE January 2010 ISSN Volume: 11 Number: 4 Article Dr. Sufiana K. Malik (2011). Nature of Teacher-Students Interaction in Electronic Learning and Traditional Courses of Higher Education- A Review. Published in Turkish online Journal of Distance Education-TOJDE October 2011 ISSN Volume: 12 Number: 4 Article 9 3. American Council on Education (1996). Guiding principles for distance learning in a learning society. Washington, DC: ACE Central Services. 4. American Association for Higher Education. (2000). Implementing the Seven Principles: Technology as a Lever. Washington, DC: AAHE 5. Berge, Z. (2001). Sustaining Distance Training: Integrating Learning Technologies into the Fabric of the Enterprise. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 6. Commonwealth of Learning, (2009). Quality Assurance Toolkit Distance Higher Education Institutions and Programmes.1055t Hastings, Suite 1200 Vancouver, British Columbia Canada V6E 2E9 7. Eaton, J. (2000). Core Academic Values, Quality, and Regional Accreditation: The challenge of distance learning. Washington, DC: Council for Higher Education Accreditation. 8. S. D. (2001). How to be a Successful Online Student. New York: McGraw-Hill Innovations in Distance Education. (1998). An Emerging Set of Guiding Principles and 15

17 Practices for the Design and Development of Distance Education. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University. 16

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