In 2013, Academic Partnerships published A Guide to Quality in Online Learning. Neil Butcher and Merridy Wilson-Strydom co-authored the text, and we served as editors. That document focused on formal online courses and programmed leading to certification. Reaction to the guide from around the world was very positive, but, because it appeared at a time of intense press coverage of massive open online courses (MOOCs), some readers asked if we could prepare another document that would explore quality issues in less formal types of online learning.
In light of A Guide to Quality in Online Learning, we have published A Guide to Quality in Post-Traditional Online Higher Education. In the year since we issued the first Guide, alternative or “post-traditional” approaches to higher education have continued to multiply. These approaches include new types of informal short courses and approaches to certification, growing openness in access to intellectual capital, and a lively diversification of teaching and learning methods, not least in MOOCs. This new Guide seeks to help individuals and institutions that are venturing into this post-traditional world.
We were very pleased that Neil Butcher agreed once again to be the lead author, assisted this time by Sarah Hoosen, who had worked with him earlier on two significant documents commissioned for UNESCO’s 2012 World Congress on Open Educational Resources. Living in Africa but working globally, both authors know about the diversity of technological infrastructure available in different regions of the world and are able to cite examples of post-traditional initiatives in various countries. We have enjoyed working with such expert and professional colleagues.
A move to greater openness on several dimensions is the common thread in what we are calling “post-traditional” higher education. The authors stress that it is too early to be prescriptive about good practice in the quality assurance of these new manifestations of higher education because the field is in a state of rapid evolution. Nevertheless, we hope that this guide will encourage individuals and institutions to engage with the drive to openness and develop their own principles and practices to ensure that students benefit from these new opportunities.
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