eQSF - Setting new Quality Standards for ICT in Learning
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New self-assessment tool for training and education providers across Europe
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) plays an increasing role in education and learning. Research shows that ICT has great potential to significantly increase learning outcomes for students. The majority of education and training providers already use some form of ICT in teaching. However, there is evidence that many education and training providers use ICT in an ad-hoc rather than strategic way that does not necessarily add quality to the learning experience for learners or worse, may even be detrimental to it.
eQSF is a new Quality Standards Framework for the use of ICT in learning that aims to ensure that ICT in learning and education is being explored to its full potential. eQSF supports training and education providers in a process of assessing, reviewing and improving the way they make use of information technology in their work.
eQSF Quality Standards
eQSF consists of 13 interrelated standards across three different pillars that were developed and tested by training and education providers across four different Member States in a European project funded under the European Commission Lifelong Learning Programme.
Pillar 1 includes quality standards in relation to values, pedagogy and practice. Under this pillar, training or education provider assess, for example, if they ensure accessibility to ICT for learners with special needs or promote cultural integration and language support through the use of ICT.
The second pillar deals with the structure of the learning process. For instance, training and education providers look at the way ICT is integrated into the curriculum planning as well as the way staff communicates with their students and seeks feedback from them.
Pillar 3 looks at the role of leadership and management in ensuring quality use of ICT in learning. Self-assessment in this area, for example, aims to improve the integration of new information technology into the strategic planning or ICT infrastructure management.
eQSF Implementation Process To effectively implement eQSF Standards, it is good practice to follow a clearly defined process which should include the entire organisation. However, if for one reason or another, this process does not suit an organisation, it is possible to flexibly adopt it. Eventually, eQSF should fit with what is currently happening within the organisation, and what is currently happening should fit with the eQSF.
Step 1: The proposed eQSF implementation process starts with establishing leadership and ownership of eQSF in an organisation. During this phase, an organisation develops a clear ICT vision for the future. In addition, an implementation team is being set up to guide and implement the eQSF process within the organisation.
Step 2: The second step is about reviewing current practice. During this phase, organisations assess current ICT usage within the teaching and learning process, looking at strengths, weaknesses opportunities and threats (SWOT analysis). As part of this review process, organisations consider each of the thirteen standards and self-assess their current level of attainment.
Step 3: Once the Practice Review is completed, organisations develop an action plan, outlining the actions required to achieve the eQSF standards and specifying who is responsible, when the action needs to be completed and the required resources to complete the action.
Step 4: The following step is the implementation of the plan. This process should be closely monitored by the implementation team. Evidence regarding progress made towards achieving each standard needs to be recorded.
Step 5: Evaluation is a vital step in the eQSF implementation process and provides the basis for continuous review and development. It is at this point that the organisation assess whether or not the required actions identified in the plan have been implemented, if the identified eQSF standards have been met and that evidence is in place to demonstrate this.
Step 6: Based on the evaluation, an organisation will have identified areas which require further development or existing gaps. During the feedback phase, these findings are being communicated to the relevant stakeholders in order to prepare for a new cycle of eQSF quality improvement, following the steps outlined above.
eQSF project partners have developed a range of useful tools that support an organisation during the eQSF process. The following resources are available:
The eQSF User Guide explains in detail the different steps of the eQSF self-assessment process. It includes a range of useful templates that organisations can use, such as planning templates or a template for a SWOT analysis.
The eQSF Standards Framework describes the different quality standards for effective education provision using ICT in teaching and learning.
The eQSF Online Tool allows an organisation to do the self-assessment and planning online.
More information and all eQSF resources available here