Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching in Australian Higher Education

The Australian Government funds the QILT Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching website. One point to note is if your browser has an ad-blocker, such as AdBlockPlus you may not see any institutions listed (I didn't until I disabled the ad-blocker for the QILT site). QILT lists 55 institutions offering Teacher Education (including Vocational Education & Training, and Higher Education and Special Education). There are 44 institutions offering programs at the postgraduate level (39 Universities and 9 Non-Universities). 

One limitation with the QILT site is that there is no option to select institutions offering on-line courses. The assumption seems to be that the potential student will select a state and then look at institutions in that state.

The site requires the student to select no more than six institutions to compare. There is no way, for example, to list all the institutions in Australia, by quality ranking and then select the top six. The student would have to look at each institution and manually note and sort the top six.

There are  5 ACT Universities with Postgraduate courses in Teacher Education listed. So I selected all five, plus Montessori Institute (a non-university postgraduate provider, which, not surprisingly trains Montessori teachers). Only four institutions were shown, due to too small a number of students for the with two. The four institutions were around 80%, on "Overall satisfaction" and with confidence intervals so wide that this which not be of use in selecting between institutions. On the "Teaching scale"
University of Canberra was 10% above the others.  On the "Skills scale" University of New South Wales was slightly ahead.

What is not clear is how useful this information is for students selecting programs. The differences between institutions are minimal. A better approach might be to put resources into ensuring all institutions meet an acceptable minimum standard, so a student knows that if they enroll locally they will receive an acceptable quality education.

Also with the transition to e-learning the quality of legacy classroom based courses will be of little relevance.Students are increasingly likely to follow the approach I took in looking for a program in 2013. First I looked in the city where I lived. After finding nothing suitable in my city, I think looked internationally. Once beyond commuting distance, it makes little difference if the institution is 1,000 km or 10,000 km away. In the last five years I have been a student of ANU and CIT (within 10 km of home), USQ (1,000 km) and Athabasca University (14,000 km).

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