Thesis Proposal

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Internationalisation and the Role of University Networks Proceedings of the 2009 EMUNI Conference on Higher Education and Research Portorož, Slovenia, 25-26 September

A THESIS PROPOSAL: QUALITY STANDARDS OF ONLINE HIGHER EDUCATION IN TURKEY Omer Uysal Department of Computer Education & Instructional Technologies Anadolu University Anadolu University Faculty of Education Eskisehir Turkey [email protected] | http://home.anadolu.edu.tr/~ouysal

Abdullah Kuzu Department of Computer Education & Instructional Technologies Anadolu University Anadolu University Faculty of Education Eskisehir Turkey [email protected] | http://home.anadolu.edu.tr/~akuzu Abstract Quality standards have to be determined by comprehensive research in order to constitute functional infrastructure. But, there is some uncertainty about the quality for online education in reality. In the literature organizations dealing with online education like NEA, SREB, NACOL, Sloan-C have improved quality standards for online education. There is no obvious information about whether quality standards developed by other countries have been used for online education in Turkey. For that reason, quality standards must be determined for online education to guide how to constitute functional infrastructure at online education foundations. Also to what extent do students taking online courses give importance to the standards and at what level do higher education institutions giving online courses apply the standards must be identified accurately in Higher Education Instutitions serving online course. This study aims to present a Phd thesis proposal to be evaluated by experts of quality assurance.

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Key Words: Education, Online Education, Quality Standarts.

1. Introduction

Information, communication and technology are the crucial topic of the 21. century. Integration of these concepts is the reason of paradigm shift. Genereting solution can be more than easy, effective, quick, economic and achievable before with the integration like as Google. Person ask and Google tell the answer according to specified feature. As it is seen Google example people have changed lots of habit with the integration. Education Sciences are also impressed by the integration.

Reflection of the entegration in the area of educational sciences, several new concepts have occurred like computer-assisted instruction, computer-based education, internet-assisted instruction, internet-based education, web-assisted instruction and web-based instruction. Also, distance-education became popular again with information communication technology (ICT) and can now be considered as an alternative to face to face education. According to the current conjuncture in the world, especially learning is based on learning and life-long learning. In line with this vision, the need for online education has increased. Table.1 shows total and online enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary Institutions – Fall 2002 through Fall 2007 in USA (Allen and Seaman, 2008, s.5).

Table 1. Total and Online Enrollment in Degree-granting Postsecondary Institutions – Fall 2002 through Fall 2007

Total Fall 2002 Fall 2003 Fall 2004 Fall 2005 Fall 2006 Fall 2007 16,611,710 16,911,481 17,272,043 17,487,481 17,758,872 17,975,830

Annual NA 1.8% 2.1% 1.2% 1.6% 1.2%

Students Taking Annual at Least One 1,602,970 1,971,397 2,329,783 3,180,050 3,488,381 3,938,111 Growth NA 23.0% 18.2% 36.5% 9.7% 12.9%

Online Enrollment as a 9.6% 11.7% 13.5% 18.2% 19.6% 21.9%

Enrollment Growth Rate

Online enrollments have continued to grow at rates far in excess of the total higher education student population, with the most recent data demonstrating no signs of slowing. When Table.1 was evaluated, the results were written below; 2

• • •

Over 3.9 million students were taking at least one online course during the fall 2007 term; a 12 percent increase over the number reported the previous year. The 12.9 percent growth rate for online enrollments far exceeds the 1.2 percent growth of the overall higher education student population. Over 20 percent of all U.S. higher education students were taking at least one online course in the fall of 2007.

Online education that allows using so many different alternatives for educational purposes enables distance-education institutions to design an educational process of a better quality. In this respect, it could be stated that there is a close relationship between distance education and online education (Uysal and Kuzu, 2009). Therefore, the study also focuses on research on quality in distance education.

In order to determine the quality standards and to avoid the uncertainties in internet-based distance education, the case study conducted by the IHEP (2000) was based on three reasons. •

First, Internet-based distance education is becoming the predominant technology in distance education. Internet-based distance education will be a growing avenue for technology mediated learning in the future.



Second, Internet-based distance education allows the teaching/learning process to occur “at any time and any place.”



Third, because of these features, Internet-based distance education is, in many ways, fundamentally different than traditional classroom-based education. Among other things, it is this distinctly different concept of time that engenders concern and skepticism from many in the higher education community.

Many people, particularly those who lack firsthand familiarity with distance learning, are frankly suspicious of distance education and think that distance education programs have either low standards or even no standards. Some of educators remain skeptical about distance education. Believing that teaching and learning are inherently social processes, these 3

educators consider “same-time same-place” interaction central to a successful educational experience (AFT, 2000). Therefore, when it comes to online education more research is needed about quality (Twigg, 2001).

When focusing online education, experts have started to think how to execute online education more affective. Because online education is different than face to face education as explained above. Therefore quality standards must be not only some similarities but also some differences. Standards are not the same between face to face education and online education. Some of the councel, commission and board like WCET, SREB, AFT, NACOL, ADEC, NEA have tried to improve principles, guidelines and standarts for online education. WCET (1995) determined the elements of quality online education with 3 domain.  Curriculum and Instruction with 4 principles  Institutional Context and Commitment with 4 subdomains totally including 11 principles. The name of the subdomains are respectively Role and Mission, Faculty Support, Resources for Learning, Students and Student Services, Commitment to Support.  Evaluation and Assessment with 2 principles.

How can a teaching/learning process that deviates so markedly from what has been practiced for hundreds of years embody quality education? This question has been addressed in many ways by the range of benchmarks developed by a variety of organizations concerned about quality distance education. In order to provide an answer to this question, NEA and Blackboard, in 2000, launched a study – called Quality On the Line - regarding how quality can be assured in Internet-based distance education (IHEP, 2000). Quality On the Line identifies 24 benchmarks considered essential to ensuring excellence in Internetbased distance learning. The benchmarks are divided into seven categories of quality measures currently in use on campuses around the nation. These benchmarks are shown into 7 subdomains below;  Institutional Support with 3 principles  Course Development with 3 principles  Teaching/Learning Process with 3 principles  Course Structure with 4 principles  Student Support with 4 principles  Faculty Support with 4 principles 4

 Evaluation and Assessment with 3 principles

Friedenberg (2002) carried out a matrix analysis on the quality standards developed for online education. In the study, the researcher examined the guides, principles and standards developed for online education. As a result of these examinations, the researcher gathered all the studies conducted by the institutions of AAHE, ACE, AFT, NEA and WICHE. Friedenberg, as a result of the matrix analysis, defined and listed the current issues in online education and the 9 subject titles that should be standardized:  Executive commitment  Technological infrastructure  Student services  Design and development  Instruction and instructor services  Program delivery  Financial health  Legal and regulatory requirements  Program evaluation

The Sloan Consortium, a consortium of institutions and organizations committed to quality online education, established a quality framework including five main elements (2002). These are shown below:  Learning effectiveness  Cost effectiveness  Access  Faculty satisfaction  Student satisfaction

The understanding of what is required to be an effective online teacher and how to design an online course has deepened significantly. Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), has focused increasing attention on what constitutes a quality online course. SREB started in order to determine standards for quality online course. The standards for quality online courses were developed by knowledgeable, experienced resource persons from K-12 and 5

postsecondary education, drawn from national and regional organizations, SREB state departments of education, and colleges and universities (SREB, 2006, s.2).

In partnership with SREB, North American Council for Online Learning (NACOL) is adopting the Standards for Quality Online Courses as a primary source. The mission of NACOL is to increase educational opportunities and enhance learning by providing collegial expertise and leadership in online teaching and learning. As a result of the research review, NACOL has chosen to fully endorse the work of the SREB Quality Online Course Standards as a comprehensive set of the standards as identified by SREB already in use by sixteen states. National Standards of Quality for Online Course is designed to provide states, districts, online programs, and other organizations with a set of quality guidelines for online course (NACOL, 2007, s.2). The standards were devoloped by NACOL shown below;  Course content with 14 standards  Instructional design with 16 standards  Student assessment with 7 standards  Technology with 13 standards  Course management with 7 standards  21st Century Skills with 1 standard

Not only universities given online courses in USA but also the other countries were impressed with the development. Therefore other institutions out from USA started to query quality of the their own online education. Result of the inquiry institutions prepare their own quality standarts and institutions given online courses have focused on quality for online education.

The Bergen Conference was held in May in 2005 with the participation of ministers responsible for higher education from 45 countries. In this conference, studies carried out on quality in higher education up to that time as well as the principles and standards suggested in this respect were gathered and published in the report of “Quality Assurance Principles and Standards in the Area of European Higher Education” prepared by the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education and were approved by the educational ministers of the countries involved in the Bologna process (ENQA, 2005). The principles and standards adopted in this field include the basic principles and standards regarding the application and processes of; 6

• internal quality assurance in higher education institutions • external quality assurance of higher education institutions • external quality assurance of quality assurance agencies.

Today, the member nations are expected to execute their studies in this field within the scope of the principles and standards determined. Universities prepare strategical plans for the development of quality in higher education, revise their missions, visions and basic values within the scope of common mind, publish their self-evaluation reports, and determine their professional competencies and learning outputs. It is necessary to determine the final state of these studies. Although there is an evaluation of the quality assurance within the scope of the Bologna process, it is important to lend an ear to the scientists who determined these principles (ENQA, 2005, p.13):

The purpose of these standards and guidelines is to provide a source of assistance and guidance to both higher education institutions in developing their own quality assurance systems and agencies undertaking external quality assurance, as well as to contribute to a common frame of reference, which can be used by institutions and agencies alike. It is not the intention that these standards and guidelines should dictate practice or be interpreted as prescriptive or unchangeable.

One of the solutions that help overcome any difficulty experienced in spreading out in-class education is the online education. Online courses are increasing in number, growing in strength and gaining more importance. Besides these developments, an expectation for a good-quality service had occurred (Barkan and Eroğlu, 2004). When evaluated within the scope of e-learning, three main problems were mentioned in the Turkish Informatics Council Report (2002) regarding the applications in distance education in Turkey. These were: 1. Inefficient standardization and poor quality 2. Non-institutionalization and non-branding 3. Non-spreading. Overcoming the problems determined depends on the application of appropriate solutions. In order to spread distance education and increase its prestige, students taking online education 7

should compete with students taking face-to-face education in terms of their performance in life. In order for such competition to occur in this rapidly-developing field of online education, it is a must to apply the quality standards. There are no standards determined in the field of online education in our country. It is known for sure to what extent the standards determined abroad are applied in our country. The quality standards for internet-based courses given in online education should be determined to help guide online-education institutions, and public opinion regarding the issue should be forged. The application of these standards in online courses in our country and the importance of these standards should be determined, and the viewpoints of online-education institutions about the quality standards should be evaluated.

In the study a phd thesis proposal executing in Turkey will be shared by the experts about quality standarts for online education and according feedback of the experts thesis might be redesigned again if change is required.

1.1 Purpose

The basic purpose of this study is, for quality in online education, to determine what could be done in the programs, politics, and applications of higher education institutions that give online courses. In addition, the present study investigates the possibility of adding new standards to the current ones. The sub-goals of the study are as follows:

1. To what extent do students taking online courses give importance to the standards developed by IHEP, SREB, NACOL, ENQA to maintain quality in online education?

2. At what level do higher education institutions giving online courses apply the standards developed by IHEP, SREB, NACOL, ENQA to maintain quality in online education?

3. What other new standards can higher education institutions giving online courses apply besides the standards developed to maintain quality in online education?

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4. Is there any significant difference between higher education institutions giving online courses in terms of the importance given to the quality standards for online education and in terms of the application of the standards?

1.2 Importance

The number of online education programs is continuously increasing. Due to such factors as international student mobility, cross-border universities and the free circulation of services in the globalising economy, “quality assurance” in higher education has gained a not only national but also international dimension. In addition, issues such as accreditation and acceptance of diplomas are now among the important agenda topics in terms of bilateral and multilateral relations (CHE, 2007, p.22). However, it is a fact that there are some uncertainties in online education with respect to quality. This study will provide online-education institutions and organizations with valuable information for the application, examination and maintenance of quality in their programs.

This study is of direct importance for the managers and instructors working in onlineeducation institutions as well as for their students. At the end of the study, the views of students attending online-education institutions in our country will be determined. There are around two million students registered to online-education institutions in our country. Thanks to the views of the students, the online courses given in online-education institutions in our country will be evaluated in terms of the standards determined by IHEP and by other similar institutions. In this way, the situation of the online courses given in online-education institutions in our country will be determined with respect to the quality standards. The research results will also provide an important opportunity for the development of the quality standards in our country. The study will be the first to be conducted in our country and is thought to act as a guide for future research.

2. Methodology

This part focuses on the research model, the universe and the sample, the data and data collection, and the analysis and interpretation of the data.

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2.1 Research Method

This study aims at determining the views of the directors - who manage the courses -, of the instructors - who give the courses -, and of the students - who take the courses – about the quality standards in their institutions that give online courses. In the study, the “Survey Model” will be used. Survey models aim at depicting the present situation as it is, or a situation in the past as it was (Karasar, 2003, p.77). In this study, the survey model will be applied since the study aims at determining the current views of the participants about the quality standards in online courses.

2.2 Population and Sample

The universe of the present study includes the managers and instructors of educational institutions – which give online courses at higher education level in our country – as well as the students registered to these institutions. Due to the big size of the universe of the study and to the difficulties in reaching the whole universe, sampling will be done. For the application of the measurement tool, the present study will involve students attending the department of Computer Technologies and Programming at Anadolu University, which is a leading higher education institution in distance education in our country, and at other universities, namely Sakarya, METU, Mersin, Bilent, Çukurova, and Gazi, which have serious studies in the field of online education (Table 2).

The sampling should be done in a way that its results can be generalized according to the universe. The date that the institution started giving online courses is an important variable in terms of sub-structure and of experience. Considering that students learn online courses better in their senior year, the measurement tool developed will be applied to the senior students.

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Table 2. Universities Serving Online Courses in Turkey

Program Knowledge Management (Undergraduate) Computer Technology and Prog. (Undergraduate) Computer Technology and Prog. (Undergraduate) Computer Technology and Prog. (Undergraduate) Computer Technology and Prog. (Undergraduate) Computer Technology and Prog. (Undergraduate) Computer Technology and Prog. (Undergraduate) Computer Technology and Prog. (Undergraduate) Computer Technology and Prog. (Undergraduate) Computer Technology and Prog. (Undergraduate)

Üniversite Anadolu University Sakarya University Mersin University Çukurova University Beykent University İstanbul Aydın University Maltepe University Gazi University Trakya University Süleyman Demirel

2.3 Data Collection Procedures

For the collection of the research data, the measurement tool will be applied to the participants of the study after the necessary permissions are taken from the authorized institutions of the universities. In this study, the data will be collected through both quantitative and qualitative methods. Since several problems were experienced regarding the online collection of the research data in similar studies conducted in the past, it is thought that it would be better to collect the data of the present study after the assessment examinations. However, if the advisory team decides that there will be more serious problems in collecting the data on face-to-face basis, the research data can also be collected on online basis.

2.4 Data Analysis Procedures

The data to be revealed by the measurement tool will be analyzed in a computer environment. For the statistical analyses of the research data, the package program of “SPSS 15.0 for Windows” will be used. The analyses of the research data will include descriptive statistics such as the calculation of frequency, percentage, mean, standard deviation and mode; and in order to determine whether there will be significant difference in the importance given to the quality standards in online courses, one-way ANOVA will be run. In case of a difference

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between universities, post hoc test will be applied to see between which of the universities the difference has occurred.

In order to find answers to the basic research question of what could be done in the programs, politics and applications of Higher Education Institutions to maintain quality in online education, the related literature will be reviewed in depth. Studies conducted in the past and the current on-going studies will be gathered in line with expert views, and the quality assurance standards for online education will be determined. Moreover, the results will serve as a guide for the related institutions in maintaining quality. In addition, the answers to the other questions directed within the scope of the sub-goals of the study will help determine what the institutions giving online courses can do in their programs, politics and applications. This study will try to find the answers to these questions - directed within the scope of the sub-goals of the study - as follows:

1. In order to find answers to the question of “to what extent do students taking online courses give importance to the standards developed by IHEP, SREB, NACOL, ENQA to maintain quality in online education?”, the participants will be asked to rate each of the standards found in the measurement tool as 1=not important and 5=very important. Regarding the importance of the standards, the mean, standard deviation, the number of participants, and the mode will be calculated, and in general, the importance given to the quality assurance standards by the students participating in the study can be determined.

2. In order to find answers to the question of “at what level do higher education institutions giving online courses apply the standards developed by IHEP, SREB, NACOL, ENQA to maintain quality in online education?”, the participants will be asked to rate each of the standards found in the measurement tool as 1=certainly there is none and 5=certainly there is. Regarding the application of the standards, the mean, standard deviation, the number of participants, and the mode will be calculated, and in general, at what level the higher education institutions involved in the study apply the quality assurance standards can be determined.

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3. In order to find answers to the question of “What other new standards can higher education institutions giving online courses apply besides the standards developed to maintain quality in online education?”, one open-ended question will be directed:

Please state the standards that you think are not included in the online-education measurement tool.

Is there any significant difference between higher education institutions giving online courses in terms of the importance given to the quality standards for online education and in terms of the application of the standards?

4. In order to find answers to the question of “Is there any significant difference between higher education institutions giving online courses in terms of the importance given to the quality standards for online education and in terms of the application of the standards?”, two one-way ANOVA tests will be applied. In case of any difference between the universities, post hoc test will be applied to determine between which institutions the difference occurred.

3. Result and Proposal

In one study, Coldwell (2000) tried to execute the course of computer ethics on internet-basis. At the end of this three-year study, the researcher reported that computer ethics can be effectively executed via the internet and title the study as “It is possible to teach computer ethics via distance education!” Coldwell pointed out that teaching the course of computer ethics on internet-basis is far more difficult than traditional teaching methods and that the institution should have the necessary infrastructure for such teaching. The researcher added that if the present infrastructure can not easily be used, then technology does nothing but presents the content of the course. This successful result proved that even such a content as that of the course of computer ethics which requires changes in attitudes can easily be learnt by students when the necessary infrastructure is established. The established of the infrastructure in question depends on the application of quality standards in internet-based distance education (Uysal and Kuzu, 2009).

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Universities not only serving school education but also serving online education must determine quality standards to ensure learning. Because nature of the online education different then school education.

REFERENCES

American Federation of Teachers (AFT) (2000). Distance education: Guidelines for good practice. Retrieved November 16, 2007, from http://www.aft.org/pubs-

reports/higher_ed/distance.pdf

Allen, I. E., Seaman, J. (2008). Staying the Course Online Education in United States. United States of America: Sloan Consortium. Retrieved November 16, 2008, from http://www.sloan-c.org/publications/survey/pdf/staying_the_course.pdf Barkan, M., Eroğlu, E. (2004). Uzaktan Öğretimde Kalite: “.. Sayısal Büyüklükler Doyuma Ulaştı.. Ya Şimdi?..”. The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology – TOJET. 3(4), 20. Retrieved November 16, 2008, from http://www.tojet.net/articles/3420.htm

CHE: Councel of Turkish Higher Education. (2007). Report of Higher Education Strategy. Retrieved April 20, 2008, from http://www.yok.gov.tr/content/view/557/238/lang,tr_TR/

Coldwell, J. (2000). It is possible to teach computer ethics via distance education. Second Australian Institute Conference on Computer Ethics. 1, 73-80.

ENQA: European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education. (2005). Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area. Helsinki, Finland.

Frydenberg, Jia. (2002). Quality Standards in e-Learning: A matrix of analysis. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning. 3(2).

Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) (2000, April). Quality on the line: Benchmarks for success in Internet-based distance education. Retrieved November 16, 2007, from http://www.ihep.com/quality.pdf 14

Karasar, N. ( 2003). Scientific Research Method. Nobel yayıncılık, Ankara.

NACOL. (2007). National Standards of Quality for Online Courses. Retrieved November 16, 2008, http://www.inacol.org/resources/nationalstandards/NACOL Standards Quality Online Courses 2007.pdf

Sloan Consortium. (2002). Elements of Quality Online Education.

Southern Regional Educational Board (SREB) (2006). Standarts for Quality Online Courses. Retrieved November 16, 2007, from http://www.sreb.org/programs/edtech/pubs/2006Pubs/06T05_Standards_quality_online_cours es.pdf

Turkish Informatics Council Report (2002)

Twigg, C. A. (2001). Quality assurance for whom? Providers and consumers in today’s distributed learning environment. Troy, NY: The PEW Learning and Technology Program, Center for Academic Transformation, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Uysal, Ö., Kuzu, A. (2009). An Investigation About Quality Standarts For Online Education. 1st International Conference on Computional and Information Science-CIS’09. USA: Houston\Texas.

Western Cooperative for Educational Telecommunications (WCET). (1995). Principles of Good Practice For Electronically Delivered Academic Degree and Certificate Programs. Retrieved October 3, 2008, from http://www.wcet.info/2.0/index.php?q=node/459

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