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22st Annual OLC International Conference
November 16-18, 2016 | Orlando, Florida | Walt Disney World Swan/Dolphin Resort

OLC Innovate 2016 - Innovations in Blended and Online Learning
April 20-22, 2016 | New Orleans, LA | Sheraton New Orleans Hotel

Quality in Blended Learning: Linking the E-Learning Maturity Model to Accreditation Guidelines

Darryl Draper (Old Dominion University, USA)
Robert Amason, Jr (Northern Illinios University, USA)
Session Information
July 9, 2014 - 11:20am
Institutional Leadership and Strategy
Areas of Special Interest: 
Blended Program/Degree
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Best Practices
Institutional Level: 
Multiple Levels
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Information Session
Plaza Court 3
Session Duration: 
50 Minutes
Information Session 6

Learn ways to operationalize guidelines for accreditation for electronically mediated degrees and certificate programs by implementing the e-Learning Maturity Model (eMM).

Extended Abstract

The e-Learning Maturity Model (eMM) (Marshal & Mitchell, 2004) offers post-secondary institutions the opportunity to enhance the quality of the electronically mediated aspects of blended learning. The proposed presentation posits the eMM echoes the values, principles and practices in the Guidelines for the evaluation of distance education (online learning) (C-RAC, 2009). The proposed presentation further posits that processes identified in the eMM are directly analogous to many of the best practices in the C-RAC Guidelines.

Purpose: The purpose of the presentation is to describe the results of mapping eMM and C-RAC Guidelines (Table 1) to determine the congruence of eMM and C-RAC. A high congruence would present institutions the opportunity to improve performance and operationalize accreditation requirements.

Table 1. C-RAC Categories and eMM Processes
C-RAC Guidelines for the evaluation of distance education (online learning) major categories are (C-RAC, 2009):

  1. On-line learning is appropriate to the institution's mission and purposes (p. 2)
  2. The institution's plans for developing, sustaining and, if appropriate, expanding on-line learning offerings are integrated into its regular planning and evaluation processes (p. 2).
  3. On-line learning is incorporated into the institution's systems of governance and academic oversight (p. 2).
  4. Curricula for the institution's on-line learning offerings are coherent, cohesive, and comparable in academic rigor to programs offered in traditional instructional formats (p. 3).
  5. The institution evaluates the effectiveness of its on-line learning offerings, including the extent to which the on-line learning goals are achieved, and uses the results of its evaluations to enhance the attainment of the goals (p. 3).
  6. Faculty responsible for delivering the on-line learning curricula and evaluating the students' success in achieving the on-line learning goals are appropriately qualified and effectively supported (p. 4).
  7. The institution provides effective student and academic services to support students enrolled in online learning offerings (p. 4).
  8. The institution provides sufficient resources to support and, if appropriate, expand its on-line learning offerings (p. 5).
  9. The institution assures the integrity of its on-line learning offerings (p. 5).


The eMM major processes are (Marshall & Mitchell, 2004, p. 3):

  1. Learning: Processes that directly impact on pedagogical aspects of e-Learning
  2. Development: Processes surrounding the creation and maintenance of e-Learning resources
  3. Coordination & Support: Processes around the day-to-day management and support of e-Learning delivery
  4. Evaluation: Processes surrounding the evaluation and quality control of e-Learning through its entire lifecycle.
  5. Organization: Processes associated with institutional planning and management.

Problem Statement: While accreditation is the quality assurance mechanism for higher education, institutions need structured methods to implement and operationalize the accreditation guidelines for the electronically mediated portion of blended learning (Gaytan, 2009).

Methodology: Document review and content analysis techniques will be used to map the major processes of the eMM to the C-RAC Guideline categories (Hodder, 2000). The units of analysis will be an eMM individual process description and a C-RAC Guidelines example of evidence statements. Matches will be identified and presented using a matrix or other graphical concept mapping approach.

Initial Results: Table 2 identifies initial results of high-level comparisons of eMM process categories with C-RAC Guidelines. Initial review indicates encouragingly high convergence between the eMM and the C-RAC Guidelines. A notable exception is in compliance with Federal guidelines for academic integrity. This gap is understandable in the context of the eMM as an international measure. NVIVO 10 software will be used to compare relevant documents in more granular terms.

Table 2. C-RAC Guidelines (abbreviated) and eMM Alignment
eMM Processes ?
(Marshall & Mitchell, 2004, p. 3)

Abbreviated C-RAC Guidelines (2009)? Learning Development Coordination & Support Evaluation Organization

  1. nstitution mission and purposes
  2. Institution plans 
  3. Governance and academic oversight 
  4. Curriculum and Instruction 
  5. Evaluation and Assessment 
  6. Faculty Support 
  7. Student Support 
  8. Institutional resources 
  9. Assurance of integrity of online offerings 

Conclusion: Identifying areas of congruence and convergence between eMM and C-RAC Guidelines may offer a streamlined, operationalized approach to managing in the e-learning arena. Areas where the two approaches diverge may lead to enhancements for either or both the eMM and the C-RAC Guidelines.


Council of Regional Accrediting Commissions (C-RAC). (2009). Guidelines for the evaluation of distance education (online learning). Chicago, IL: Higher Learning Commission.

Gaytan, J. (2009, Spring/Summer). Analyzing online education through the lens of institutional theory and practice: The need for research based and validated frameworks for planning, designing, delivering, and assessing online instruction. Delta Pi Epsilon Journal 51(2): 62-75.

Hodder, I. (2000). The interpretation of documents and material culture. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (2nd ed., pp. 703-716). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Marshall, S.J. & Mitchell, G. (2004). Applying SPICE to e-Learning: An E-Learning Maturity Model? In R. Lister and A. Young, Eds. Proceedings of the Sixth Australasian Computing Education Conference (ACE2004), Dunedin. Conferences in Research and Practice in Information Technology, Vol. 30.

Lead Presenter

Darryl Draper is an Assistant Professor of STEM and Professional Studies at Old Dominion University. She is highly experienced in the design and delivery of e-learning in higher education and corporate contexts. Her specializations focus on e-learning. Specifically, using the e-learning Maturity Model framework as a benchmarking and quality improvement tool for institution's e-learning activities. While at her previous institution, she employed the eMM framework on an online master's Instructional Technology Specialist program to identify areas of strengths and weaknesses for process improvement. The analysis enabled the program to develop a strategy from the data that resulted in multiple high rankings from US News and World Report for online graduate programs in 2012. http://www.niutoday.info/2012/02/29/college-of-education-faculty-tap-onl...

She transitioned from the corporate arena into higher education to further her passion in knowledge creation and sharing in groups and organizations. Her work focuses on the interplay of individual and organizational knowledge in the creation, sharing, and management of best practices. Currently, Dr. Draper is researching the implementation of the eMM framework with Old Dominion University's Distance Learning Department as well as the Biology and Engineering Departments to evaluate and assess existing student, faculty and institutional needs to increase performance across the learning, development, support and coordination, evaluation and organization areas.

In 2012, she was a Distinguished Dissertation Award recipient from the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI) for her dissertation entitled, “The Instructional Effects of Knowledge-Based Community of Practice Learning Environments on Student Achievement and Knowledge Convergence.”