Quality Indicators of Successful Distance Learning by Educational Leaders: A Caribbean Case Study
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AbstractWhile new methods and advanced technologies for delivering educational content have rapidly evolved over the past three decades, there remain questions regarding the quality of delivery and nature of the learning outcomes. Many educational theorists and practitioners, acknowledge the deficiencies of the traditional system, while arguing that these emerging methods bring new and different teaching-learning challenges, requiring rigorous evaluation and monitoring, especially in the context of technology-mediated delivery systems for Open and Distance Learning (ODL). One inevitable question “Is open and distance learning as good as traditional face-to-face learning?” This query gives rise to an increasing demand for external evidence to establish confidence among all stakeholders that there are appropriately planned and systematic activities, policies and procedures to ensure that the ODL products or services will perform and satisfy the given requirements for quality assurance. // By definition, an effective distance learning system requires a totally integrated approach in terms of the official organizational framework and arrangements, including quality assurance systems for providing instruction, through print or electronic media, to persons engaged in planned learning, usually for accreditation, in a place and/or time different from that of the instructor (Adapted from Commonwealth of Learning Resources Publications (n.d). Some ODL proponents argue that if the same rigorous quality assessment measures were applied to more traditional modes of learning, one would discover that many current face-to-face practices are not of acceptable quality standards. In this context, Ragan (1999) posits that ‘good teaching is good teaching’ and that effective learning results from the implementation of certain essential conditions, regardless of the mode of delivery. These essential conditions will be discussed in relation to the emerging quality learning indicators, which were demonstrated in the Caribbean case study.