The fields of quality assurance in higher education and e-learning, or technology-enhanced learning, are current and topical, yet seldom overlap (Reid, 2003). Higher education institutions are experiencing pressure to become more client focused and compete on the global stage, especially with respect to technology-enhanced learning. We are on the brink of a genuine pedagogical revolution (Moon, 2003) and calls for quality promotion, accountability, self-evaluation, value for money and client satisfaction cannot go unheeded. Three knowledge domains provide the context for this study: quality assurance, higher education and web-supported learning. Their intersection locates the research problem that was investigated, namely the quality assurance of web-supported learning in higher education. The research design is an instrumental case study, focusing on web-supported learning as a supportive medium in a flexible, blended learning model at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. The research methods include the literature survey, case analysis meetings, a student survey, lecturer interviews, expert consultation and task teaming. The conceptual framework for this study (Figure 2.5) is based on the confluence of the existing theories: quality assurance theory, instructional systems design and systems theory. The updated conceptual framework (Figure 7.1) and the synthesized findings (Table 7.1) reflect the holistic nature of the process-based quality management system for web-supported learning that characterises this study. The value of this study to the academic community is in the findings, which include a taxonomy of critical success factors for web-supported learning, the identification of factors which promote student and lecturer satisfaction (or frustration) with web-supported learning experiences, and lessons learnt by applying standard quality assurance theory to the instructional design process. The self-evaluation exercise in an academic support unit provides a precedent and contributes criteria that will be useful to the Higher Education Quality Committee in South Africa, as well as to other higher education institutions.
Thesis (PhD (Computer Integrated Education))--University of Pretoria, 2006.