MacDonald CJ & Thompson TL (2009) A case study exploring quality standards for quality e-learning. In: Rogers P, Berg G, Boettcher J, Howard C, Justice L & Schenk K (eds.) Encyclopedia of distance learning, Volume I. 2nd ed. Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference, pp. 232-240. http://www.igi-global.com/book/encyclopedia-distance-learning-second-edition/352
In order to satisfy the needs of growing numbers of adult learners, the availability of well-designed, effectively implemented, and efficiently delivered online courses is essential (MacDonald, Stodel & Casimiro, 2006; Palloff & Pratt, 2001). Despite the demand and prevalence of e-learning, there are still concerns regarding the quality and effectiveness of education offered online (Carstens & Worsfold, 2000; Noble, 2002). Too often, in an "effort to simply get something up and running" (Dick, 1996, p. 59), educators have been forced to compromise quality and design. Intensive competition among educational institutions has resulted in quality assurance becoming a critical issue for promoting learning and learning programs. Within this economically motivated environment, online learning has not escaped the scrutiny of quality standards. Quality in online programs is generally defined in terms of the design of the learning experience, the contextualized experience of learners, and evidence of learning outcomes (Jung, 2000; Salmon, 2000). However, the plethora of online learning courses and programs with few standards to ensure the quality of content, delivery, and/or service creates a challenge. The resulting variance in quality makes it difficult for an organization or learner to choose a program that meets their needs and is also of high quality.