Quality Assurance of e-Learning in Spain
The Spanish team of the BEQUEL Erasmus+ funded project, which aims at developing quality assurance in eLearning provision and practices of VET educators, has conducted an in-depth research to analyse the current situation of e-learning practices and its quality assurance in the country. Unfortunately, there are not any existing legal and common regulations concerning the quality assurance of e-learning practices in VET education, showing a need to align to the objectives of this project. However, the study has shown that the majority of quality assurance related procedures are more developed in the field of higher education, as most of the VET institutions started offering online courses only with the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. The centres had to quickly adapt to the use of new technologies and the new virtual classroom model, and they are still in the process of being able to establish their own quality assessment criteria as there does not exist a common framework for all institutions.
One of the few regulations that have been developed related to the assurance of quality of online education that can be used by Spanish universities (i.e., the document has universities as target groups, not VET centres) is the Association for Standardisation and Certification of Spain's (AENOR, 2012) UNE 66181:2012 standard, which establishes a quality model based on a set of variables that indicate three aspects of online education recipients' satisfaction. Also, The National Agency for Quality Assessment and Accreditation of Spain (ANECA, 2012) evaluates the quality of online programs at three separate phases.
However, educational institutions have their own assessment criteria. For example, UNED (the National University for Online Education) has designed a questionnaire for the evaluation of quality in online courses. The tool has been designed to evaluate the virtual courses in three main areas:
- general quality of the environment in which the courses are virtualized (the platform);
- teaching methodology, that is, the teaching strategies and methods used in the virtual classrooms during the teaching-learning process;
- and, the Technical Quality of the courses that assesses the basic aspects of educational technology that a virtual classroom must fulfil.
Another example is The Group of Online Teaching Managers of the Public Universities of Castilla y León, who has prepared a guide with recommendations to help teachers and universities in the process of transformation of the face-to-face classes to an online format. The essence of this guide is shared online to make these recommendations available to a higher number of teachers worldwideonline.
Another assessment model has also been developed by a professor from the University of Cartagena, in Murcia, in a 3-step easy to follow indicators' format.
Lastly, the Agency for the Quality of Catalonia's University System (AQU, 2007) created a handbook for internal self-evaluation of online education, which serves as an assessment model for online programs in higher education.
All in all, the Spanish team concluded that in Spain, there is a need for a common quality assurance framework regarding e-learning.