Using Students’ Experiences to Derive Quality in an e-Learning System: An Institution’s Perspective


Higher education institutions undertake a range of approaches to evaluating and making judgments about
the quality of their e-learning provision. This paper begins by exploring benchmarking as one current
strategy in common use in universities to identify and implement quality practices: from the use of
checklists (for example, of best practices and standards) to a more contemporary dynamic systems approach involving continuous cycles of feedback and improvement centred around the learners' experiences of elearning.

These practices are influenced by the teachers' design of e-learning and emerging technologies as
well as by the institutional and societal contexts in which both learners and teachers operate. We give an
account of two major evaluation studies at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), utilising a systems
approach to investigate the consequences of e-learning, and we inquire into the value of this particular
institutional approach for deriving e-learning quality. We use selections from the large dataset to describe
and analyse students' and teaching staff's experiences of an e-learning system (LMS) over a two-year
period. Our findings reveal that learners' experiences warrant consideration in shaping future e-learning
developments at UTS, and that students value e-learning in facilitating their access to education for making choices about their learning and for enabling engagement in collaborative and interactive learning activities, while they also recognise the current constraints on e-learning imposed by the developers of LMS technologies.

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