Quality in blended learning: Linking the e-learning maturity model to accreditation guidelines

Article to accompany presentation to Online Learning Consortium (formerly Sloan-C) Blended Learning Conference, Denver CO, July 2014. 



The e-Learning Maturity Model (eMM) (Marshall & Mitchell, 2002) offers institutions the opportunity to enhance the quality of the electronically mediated aspects of blended learning.  This study posits the eMM echoes the values, principles and practices identified in the Guidelines for the evaluation of distance education (online learning) (C-RAC, 2009).  The study further posits that processes identified in the eMM are directly analogous to many of the best practices recognized in the C-RAC Guidelines. The purpose of the study was to describe the results of mapping eMM and C-RAC Guidelines (Appendix A) to determine the congruence of eMM and C-RAC with the potential to operationalize C-RAC guidelines.  The high level of congruence found presents institutions the opportunity to improve performance and meet accreditation requirements, despite lack of specific accreditation guidelines on blended learning.   While accreditation is the quality assurance mechanism for higher education, institutions need structured methods to implement and operationalize the accreditation guidelines for the electronically mediated portion of blended learning (Gaytan, 2009).  Document review and content analysis techniques (Altheide, 1996; Hodder, 2000; McCollough, 2004) were used to map the major processes of the eMM to the C-RAC Guideline categories, which were set as a priori codes. A priori coding was used to identify and present process congruency via matrices. QSR International’s NVIVO 10 qualitative analysis software was used as the tool to compare the two documents in more granular terms, seeking both convergence and areas where the documents diverged. The study was specifically delimited to the eMM and C-RAC Guidelines.  A notable exception was in compliance with Federal guidelines for academic integrity.  This gap is understandable in the context of the eMM being an international measure. Therefore, identifying areas of congruence and convergence between eMM and C-RAC Guidelines may offer a streamlined, operationalized approach to managing in the e-learning arena.  Areas where the two approaches diverged may lead to enhancements for either or both documents.

This publication has been peer reviewed.
Publication Type: 
Journal Article
Draper, D. C., & Amason, R.F.
Year of Publication: 
Journal, Book, Magazine or Other Publication Title: 
Online Learning Consortium Journal
Place Published: 
Denver, CO



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