Working on the European level with different countries and different systems of higher education, setting standards for Quality Assurance in blended and online education is not only impossible but would also disregard the complexity and variety of the European HE systems. A benchmarking approach as a system of references is therefore much more appropriate and effective.
In our approach, benchmarking is an improvement tool; a process of comparing the universities performance with best practices in the field of blended and online education. This process guides universities in critically looking at their own business models and practices leading to identification of weaknesses and strengths in comparison to other universities. By offering also directions and examples of enhancements, users of E-xcellence are guided towards improving their blended and online education performance.
A main benefit of working with benchmarks is its characteristic of working within dialogue. By stimulating dialogue in a collaborative process we create an environment of learning from each other. This also means that a certain level of trust and readiness of sharing must be guaranteed. In a highly competitive market of higher education institutions this may not always be the case. E-xcellence therefore works in several phases with optional extensions in reaching out to other organisations.
Instead of identifying benchmarks in a group of universities representing several good practices, E-xcellence defined generic benchmarks in a setting of 12 European experts. E-xcellence therefore includes a European-wide set of benchmarks, independent of particular institutional or national systems, and with guidance to educational improvement. The benchmarks are in fact representing numerous best practices from all over Europe, differing from country to country and give valuable input for dialogue within your university.
This enables any university to do self-assessment in the privacy of its own QA-team and still have the opportunities to work with other universities, European wide.