Elements of Program Quality

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series Instructional Effectiveness

Proponents of quality in technology-mediated learning or e-learning do not agree on what constitutes quality. Given the proliferation of e-learning some attempts are being made to develop quality standards for the use of technology for teaching and learning. The purpose of e-learning quality standards are:

  • Maximize the validity, integrity and portability of e-learning;
  • Ensure that resource development follows internationally accepted specifications and that the technologies and applications used to build and deliver the resources ensure the most consistent operation and widest possible use and reuse of those resources;cilitate interoperability of learning resources and systems, and remove barriers to e-learning (AFLF, 2013, p.4). 

E-learning quality standards also ensure that the learner will acquire content skills and knowledge that are relevant and transferable to real world situations (Baker, 2002).

The program design must be underpinned by a sound learning theory in order to ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of the instructional product. The product will also have the following positive outcomes for learners:

  • Captures the interest of learners and motivate them to learn the material;
  • Gives learners a sense of ownership in their learning;
  • Ensures that learners are cognitively stimulated and engaged in the learning process;
  • Give learners ample opportunity to practice skills being learned;
  • Learning is scaffolded and supported;
  • Encourages the deployment of metacognition (AFLF, 2010, p. 4). 

In defining the conditions of learning, the education theorist Robert Gagné has proposed nine events of instruction, which activate the processes of information processing to support effective learning.  Gagné’s (1965) nine events of learning are commonly used as a basic framework for developing instructional materials. These events are:

  • Gaining attention;
  • Informing the learner of the objective;
  • Stimulating recall of prerequisite learned capabilities;
  • Presenting the stimulus material;
  • Providing learning guidance;
  • Eliciting performance;
  • Providing feedback about performance correctness;
  • Assessing the performance; and
  • Enhancing retention and transfer. 

The use of systematic instructional design and development processes to develop instructional materials for augmenting analytical skills is important. A good program design includes the following steps:

  • Analyze learning needs;
  • Design instructional materials;
  • Develop instructional materials;
  • Evaluate instructional materials; and
  • Assess the learnability, effectiveness and efficiency of the instructional materials (AFLF, 2010).
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