E-QUAL Table 6. Application of the e-Qual model 1. LEARNING CONTENTS Weight Course A Course B Course C Mark Mark Mark 1.1 Written Contents 1 7 6 8 1.2 Multimedia Contents 1 6 5 7 1.3 Complementary Bibliographical Sources 1 6 6 7 1.4 Content Management System (CMS) 1 7 7 7 2. LEARNING CONTEXTS 2.1 Common Space of the Learning Community 1 7 8 7 2.2 Asynchronous Communication Tools 1 7 8 6 2.3 Synchronous Communication Tools 1 7 8 6 3. PROCESSES 3.1 Administrative Management 1 8 8 8 3.2 Technical Management 1 7 7 6 3.3 Management of Content Transfer 1 7 6 8 3.4 Management of Learning Communities 1 7 8 6 3.5 Learning Evaluation 1 7 6 8 4. RESULTS 4.1 Knowledge and Skills Acquired 1 7 7 8 4.2 Training Recognition 1 8 6 6 4.3 Learners Satisfaction 1 7 7 8 4.4 Business 1 7 7 7 Global Average 7.0 6.9 7.1 weights assigned to their correspondent items. An evaluator who is more concerned with the contents (contents perspective) will attribute a higher weight (3) to items such as written contents (1.1), multimedia contents (1.2), complementary bibliographical sources (1.3), content management systems (1.4), and management of contents transfer (3.3). On the other hand, an evaluator that is contextcentered (contexts perspective) will attribute a higher weight (3) to such items as common space of the learning community (2.1), asynchronous communication tools (2.2), synchronous communication tools (2.3), and management of learning communities (3.4). Figure 1 presents for three courses under analysis the initial results (equal weight) together with the results obtained with two different weight assignment (contents perspective and context perspective). An evaluator who is looking for quality contents will choose course C (7.2). An evaluator who is looking for experiences and exchange of information will choose course B (7.3). concLusIon Quality approaches have different perspectives andinterpretations depending on its methodology and implementation (they differ as to the goal:
E-QUAL Figure 1. Application of e-Qual model with different perspectives (context perspective, contents perspective and equal weight) quality policies, quality management, quality assessment, and so forth; as to the target group: trainees, designers, decision-makers; and as to the method: process, product, skill, guidance). Therefore, any quality approach must be open to different values, goals andinterests. From the models analysed it can be concluded that some are unbalanced putting too much focus on one of the e-learning components such as SEEQUEL, Open eQuality, and Innolearning. Meca-ODL and Quality On the Line concern with all course aspects from its design to evaluation, therefore requiring a deep knowledge of the whole development process. This deep analysis is not feasible when an applicant wishes to choose the best course based on information made available to the public. Therefore, the e-Qual model appears as an alternative to the models proposed to analyse the different areas judged to be relevant: learning contents, learning contexts, processes, and results. This model prevents exhaustive analyses and also allows the evaluator to distinguish between items through the weights assigned. The e-Qual model has been applied to analyse several distance-learning courses. A relevant aspect of this application was the model’s flexibility in adapting to the evaluator’s perspective (learners, producers, and distributors) and to the contents and contexts perspective. This difference of perspective reveals in the weight attributed to the different items under analysis. In fact, the results obtained by the courses were very different when the evaluator’s perspective was changed. Another characteristic of this model is the possibility of being applied with some lack of information by assigning null weight to those items. In future, the distinctive characteristics in each item must be clarified in order to provide a more detailed referential, thus reducing the evaluator’s subjectivity. The evaluator will thus have a guide, which will help him with the classification of different items. With the e-Qual model we hope to give a contribution for the improvement of e-learning quality and believe that this is the only way it can develop and grow in a sustainable manner.