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Lloyd Armstrong

Thanks Chris for a great comment. Unfortunately, it has so many great threads it is hard to respond to succinctly. A great challenge of outcome measures is, indeed figuring out what to measure. The measures most used now look at critical thinking and communication skills, with an eye to seeing how these improve over 4 years. None are looking at learned information per se, although that will be a secondary part of the Bologna approach. Those measures, and NESSE, generally do not support your assumption regarding the differences between "the highest institutions and the lowest". In fact, some of the "lowest" show the greatest improvement in critical thinking, and highest involvement. Finally, I analyzed the same data as the Washington Post in http://www.changinghighereducation.com/2009/11/the-elephant-of-college-pricing.html and came to a very different conclusion. Much of the aid is in the form of loans. The statement of dropping cost of tuition is true only if one views the loans as free. If one includes the loans in the cost, it has gone up 32% in real $'s over the 15 years of the report quoted.

Chris Aldrich

I agree with Arnaldo that Quality Control might be an effective means of increasing the overall quality of the system, however one will need to be careful not to place too much emphasis on just the factual content in defining a Learning Object – arguably the biggest part of an education isn't just learning the facts, yet being able to approach things from a larger holistic whole. The sum of the facts learned are not necessarily the whole of the education - in fact, it's learning how to learn, cope, adapt, and extend in the future that is one of the greatest factors in the educational process. Utilizing the simplest concept of LOs, may pander to the lowest common denominator, and on this basis the local community college would be on par with the highest research institutions. One would have to take into account the learning atmosphere, the surrounding conversations and interactions, the level of the competition, and the learner's peers as additional benchmarking in such a quality control process.

One of the largest disparities between the highest institutes and the lowest is, in part, the desire to learn and take the most advantage of the opportunities granted at an institution. Towards this end, I'm curious to hear everyone's thoughts on the concept of what the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE)(http://nsse.iub.edu/) is doing. Today's article in the Washington Post on its rankings seems like a very apropos one given the lack of real benchmarks in many of the other rankings and surveys. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/14/AR2010021402968.html

The other major factor to take into consideration is the cost of the process and potentially a measure of cost per unit quantity. The problem here is the "per unit quantity" portion of the equation which needs some significant work to accurately define. Event the general economics of the cost part of the structure are in wide question as last week’s Washington Post points out at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/09/AR2010020903832_pf.html. This article essentially reports that though the price tag of an education is rising, the actual paid cost by individual students has decreased over the past several years. Does this portend the coming of a Wal-mart (or possibly even a Costco) Educational system?

Is anyone aware of educators taking the principles of JM Juran, W.E. Deming, et al. and applying them to education instead of manufacturing? Given that, since the start of the industrial revolution, the delivery of an education is one of the few processes that hasn't improved exponentially as other areas of "manufacture" have, will it really be improving the means of measuring delivery and imposing more quality control that will make it easier and less expensive to deliver an education?

Arnaldo Ghersi

Dear Friends:
I believe the disruptive innovation in the Educational industry will occur when we start implementing a Quality Assurance System.
Education, as any other continuous process industry, needs to implement a quality control system; a Total Quality Assurance. There is a big difference between having a QC system, and measuring the quality of a given education. While the second choice provides metrics after the process has been completed, the first choice offers the managers (the teachers) the possibility to act according to the responses and make the necessary changes to achieve the desired quality. A QC system requires metrics in real time; a continuous evaluation.
The other thing that the Education industry needs is a “measurement” system. Not a set of standardized tests. A QC system uses standard units to measure the different steps of a process. The concept of Learning Objects, used in the e-learning industry as standard of content, can easily be adopted by the Educational industry to measure the courses. Instead of using “credits” or “units”, LOs could be used to quantitatively and qualitatively measure the syllabus contained in a curriculum. Correlating content between institutions would be just a matter of matching the LOs of the desired curriculum. LOs also could be used for internationalization of career titles or certificates.
This Virtual platform will potentiate teachers’ capacities to become “teaching managers”. I would like to paraphrase Deming: Teachers who will work ON the system, monitoring study performance data of individuals, and correcting their weaknesses on-time, will achieve the desired knowledge (quality).

Lloyd responds: great comment. I agree that disruptive innovation will hit its "tipping point" when we get some valid outcomes measures (or your LO's) that enable comparison between approaches and institutions.

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