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"The title Towards a Culture of Quality indicates that this third publication on the theme of quality in the COL Perspectives on Distance Education series widens the discussion beyond external quality assurance processes to a more generic focus on a "culture of quality." It is a logical extension of the earlier two publications,...
"The title Towards a Culture of Quality indicates that this third publication on the theme of quality in the COL Perspectives on Distance Education series widens the discussion beyond external quality assurance processes to a more generic focus on a "culture of quality." It is a logical extension of the earlier two publications, which came out in 1994 and 1997 and drew our attention to quality assurance concerns, clarifying the basic concepts and documenting the various quality assurance practices as well as the diverse challenges they pose in different contexts. Quality assurance in distance education today is entrenched widely in national and institutional policies and practices. The jargon of QA has entered the lexicon of the common practitioner of open and distance learning (ODL ), and even resource-poor institutions have set up some mechanisms of assuring quality, however rudimentary. This volume brings together a rich collection of experience from a diverse range of institutions, at both the basic and the secondary as well as the postsecondary levels, and takes us beyond the level of common quality assurance protocols and their applications to a more mature quality framework, namely the culture of quality, which transcends control mechanisms and managerial dictates. It begins with a prologue that traces the developmental trajectory of ODL covering the past 35 years and looks at contemporary ODL in its dynamic global context. There then follows a series of 12 case studies from Commonwealth countries-from the South Pacific to the Caribbean and from the North to the South. Each case opens with its context-specific moorings, details its concerns, practices, challenges and achievements and closes with its considered view regarding the culture of quality. The book closes with an epilogue that reviews the past 35 years' developments in quality assurance in ODL and then draws inferences from the cases to build generalisations that may help not only ODL institutions to review and improve their efforts in quality assurance, but also researchers in their search for that elusive quality paradigm wherein all the related and relevant notions and practices converge to form the basis of a better appreciation for and tangible approaches to a culture of quality in open distance learning/education. The book should prove valuable not only for ODL policy makers, managers, academics, researchers and field workers, but also for those interested and involved in education and development."