Evaluation of the quality and promotion of open learning materials
In the UK, Open Learning has been used in industrial training for at least the last decade. Trainers and Open Learning practitioners have been concerned about the quality of the products and services being delivered. The argument put forward in this thesis is that there is ambiguity amongst industrialists over the meanings of `Open Learning' and `Quality in Open Learning'. For clarity, a new definition of Open Learning is proposed which challenges the traditional learner-centred approach favoured by educationalists. It introduces the concept that there are benefits afforded to the trainer/employer/teacher as well as to the learner. This enables a focussed view of what quality in Open Learning really means. Having discussed these issues, a new quantitative method of evaluating Open Learning is proposed. This is based upon an assessment of the degree of compliance with which products meet Parts 1 & 2 of the Open Learning Code of Practice. The vehicle for these research studies has been a commercial contract commissioned by the Training Agency for the Engineering Industry Training Board (EITB) to examine the quality of Open Learning products supplied to the engineering industry. A major part of this research has been the application of the evaluation technique to a range of 67 Open Learning products (in eight subject areas). The findings were that good quality products can be found right across the price range - so can average and poor quality ones. The study also shows quite convincingly that there are good quality products to be found at less than 50. Finally the majority (24 out of 34) of the good quality products were text based.