Quality assurance, as the fundamental pillar of higher education development, continues to remain an integral part of the e‐learning process. Most importantly, it influences reforms in higher education institutions globally. This chapter departs on the assumptions that (1) quality assurance, as power relations construct, is not free from cultural hegemony and (2) quality assurance in virtual learning environments should be guided and informed by Paulo Freire's humanizing pedagogy. In this chapter, we shall argue that quality assurance is both a philosophical problem and a policy imperative that is critical for the internationalization and globalization of higher education, more specifically virtual learning environments. We will further argue that the emphasis placed on the importance of quality assurance in virtual learning practices has been blind‐spotted by the fact that quality assurance can be viewed as agent of cultural hegemony and cultural reproduction of capitalist societies. While we agree with all the positive elements attributed to quality assurance in virtual learning, we argue that they should be characterized by humanizing pedagogy and the international dimension (exchange of knowledge and interactive networking) and cultural hybridity.
Part of the book: Virtual Learning
The University of South Africa (UNISA) is the largest open distance e-learning (ODeL) university in the continent of Africa, with a student headcount more than 300,000. Over two decades after the transition from apartheid to democracy, vast inequalities across race, class, gender and socio-economic status persist in South Africa, with the majority of the African people being the most affected. Demographically, the African people constitute about 80.8% of the country’s total population, compared to whites, who constitute a meagre 8.8%, yet African households carry the highest burden of poverty, living way below the official poverty line of $1.90/day as determined by the World Bank and other international agencies. This chapter explores these inequalities and ponders on the role of e-learning for this poorest section of society in a country where modern technological devises in the form of information and communication technologies (ICTs) and access to the Internet are perceived to be ubiquitous. South Africa’s Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) commits to “an expansion of open and distance education and the establishment of more ‘satellite’ premises where universities or colleges provide classes at places and times convenient to students (including in rural areas)”. This chapter also explores the role of UNISA in the provision of distance learning through structured and sustainable e-learning.
Part of the book: Trends in E-learning