An ISO/IEC International Standard aims to harmonize the various approaches used around the world for assessing the quality of e-learning initiatives.
"The standard represents the harmonized international know-how on quality for e-learning," explains Bruce Peoples, Chair of the ISO/IEC group that developed the standard. "By having comparable and commonly understood requirements and criteria, there will be a better match between the needs of users, purchasers and providers."
The acceptance of e-learning by the market is dependent on the quality of the related products, services and tools. A harmonized conception of e-learning quality is a prerequisite for a properly functioning market in e-learning products and services and for their overall quality to continually improve.
The standard harmonizes the international conception of e-learning quality by creating a coherent inventory of the diverse processes which affect the attainment and preservation of e-learning quality. These processes embrace all e-learning application scenarios, such as content and tool creation, service provision, learning and education, monitoring and evaluation, and lifecycle stages – from continuous needs analysis to ongoing optimization.
According to Bruce Peoples: "The standard will reduce the cost and complexity of adopting quality approaches and, at the same time, bring new or improved products and services to the market. This will have the effect of enhancing the level of innovation, diversity of supply and procurement intelligence in the market."
ISO/IEC 19796-1 is the first part of an overall framework which is due to be developed over the next two years and that will include the following documents:
- Part 2: Quality model, will harmonize the aspects of quality systems and their relations and will provide orientation for all stakeholders. It will not enforce any particular implementations but will, instead, focus on their intended results.
- Part 3: Reference methods and metrics, will harmonize formats for describing methods and metrics for quality management and assurance. It will provide a collection of reference methods that can be used to manage and ensure quality in different contexts. This part will further provide a collection of reference metrics and indicators that can be used to measure quality in processes, products, components, and services.
- Part 4: Best practice and implementation guide, will provide harmonized criteria for the identification of best practice, guidelines for the adaptation, implementation, and usage of this multi-part standard, and will contain a rich set of best practice examples.
ISO/IEC 19796-1 has been developed by ISO/IEC Joint technical committee JTC 1, Information technology, subcommittee SC 36, Information technology for learning, education and training. The standard costs 212 Swiss francs and is available from ISO national member institutes (see the complete list with contact details) and from ISO Central Secretariat (see below).