As part of EFQUEL’s continued roll-out of the new UNIQUe criteria, the new UNIQUe website has been launched to provide information on the criteria and certification process.The website currently contains all information necessary for potential applicants to assess their interest and suitability for the process.
The fundamental feature of the UNIQUe approach is to support institutions of higher education to measure how successful they are in technology-enhanced learning and to allow for continuous improvement.
The quality of both products and programmes in the field of technology-enhanced learning varies widely. The UNIQUe quality label is a unique concept of quality improvement which is theoretically sound and at the same time is meeting the expectations of practice.
Many of the existing quality initiatives in this field focus heavily, if not solely, on online instructional design. The UNIQUe approach goes above and beyond this, focusing on the use of ICT to enhance educational provision and learning support, throughout the entire breadth of activity of the Higher Education Institution. This sophisticated approach demands an applicant to meet high quality standards for programme objectives, programme structure, content, resources and learning processes.
UNIQUe accelerates quality improvement and Innovation
The UNIQUe criteria demand proof of continuous iterative innovation in all aspects of pedagogical design and course provision. In addition, they have been designed to be complimentary to the European Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in Higher Education, thus allowing for quality improvement in TEL, in alignment with on-going adaptation of systems in line with the Bologna reforms.
The label focuses strongly on innovation in all its criteria. Since systemic processes of innovation are bound to enhance the use of information-technologies, the label will take note of, and evaluate, the institution’s entire innovation ecosystem.
The end result of a UNIQUe review is not just a quality certification, but also a set of recommendations to improve TEL quality at the institution in question. Since the UNIQUe certification is valid for three years, each subsequent evaluation, takes into account the recommendations from the previous meaning that an institution must continuously improve its processes and procedures to keep the certification. In addition, researchers at the European Foundation for Quality in e-Learning continuously go over the observations from audit reports, and update guidelines for peer-review teams accordingly, ensuring that reviews take the very latest state-of-the-art into account when conducting a review.
UNIQUe is the result of extensive testing and research
The UNIQUe system and criteria have been based on nearly ten years of research into quality certification of technology enhanced learning. The Certification was designed by the European Foundation for Quality in e-Learning, the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD), the MENON Network, and EUROPACE – all of whom have decades of expertise in technology enhanced learning. The UNIQUe criteria themselves are based on ten years of research and development activities which included:
- Three European Commission-funded development projects, bringing together 15 partner institutions from around Europe, looking into various aspects of quality certification of e-learning,
- A wide process of consultations with researchers, quality experts and European stakeholders
- A series of UNIQUe pilots tested the criteria and the process with ten Higher Education Institutions over two years
- The current set of criteria were further reviewed based on the feedback received by the first UNIQUe applicants, and from quality assurance agencies in Europe, as well as in Eastern Europe and the Middle-East.
UNIQUe offers a transparent and reliable certification
All the UNIQUe criteria, together with supporting descriptions and documentations are publicly available on the web for all to see. The system is divided into six distinct stages, which offer a formalised approach in each step. In addition, the final decision on certification is made by an independent awarding body, based on the recommendations of an expert peer-review team.
Institutions are publicly awarded at an annual awarding ceremony held during the EFQUEL Innovation Forum, and are given a label to publicise their achievement on their websites and promotional materials. In addition, EFQUEL regularly creates compilations of best-practice in collaboration with certified institutions, and from time-to-time invites them to share their practices in various academic fora.
The EC DG Inforation Society and Media ICT for Inclusion initiative thanks the enthusiasm and participation in the workshop on Digital Literacy and eInclusion, held on June 17 at the Digital Agenda Assembly. In order to to help continue the involvement in the issue, a feedback a follow up survey http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/T5XRZST has been launched. Please take a few mintues to fill it in. You will find all the presentations for reference on the workshop website.
This workshop aimed to create in-depth awareness and provide practical tools for the EU Member States to engage in structured, long term policies for digital literacy acquisition in the e-Inclusion context (Digital Agenda action 66). It was organized with the Big Idea of Multi-stakeholder platform for digital literacy and e-Inclusion.
On June 30, the Director General of DG Information Society and Media, Robert Madelin, is having a Tweetchat! You can follow the discussion and contribute using the links below: