Juhani Anttila
Venture Knowledgist Quality Integration
Helsinki, Finland




Quality and its professional realization have proven worthwhile and beneficial in all areas of society and in all types of organizations. Educational organizations are not any exceptions. On the other hand, many cases convincingly and practically demonstrate that measures taken in the name of quality have not lived up to promises and cannot be considered satisfactory but instead have led to criticism and even downright to frustration. This has also happened in the field of education. The essential question is not what you do but how it is done. In order to avoid problematic situations, we need to look into the essentials of genuine quality basics, and how they can be realized in practice in a natural way. This means that we understand what quality and its effective and efficient implementation really mean, and on this basis consider quality measures also in the field of education.

In this presentation, quality of education and learning is approached in a broad sense including general education of citizens from pre-school level to university level and organization-internal training, education and learning of an organization’s leaders and employees. General quality concepts, principles, and practices may be applied in the both cases, and factually it is recommended to use them, although these two target areas are very different.

The most central quality related concepts are quality, quality management, and quality assurance that provide the foundation for any professional quality approach. Quality of learning is determined by the degree to which the needs and expectations of all stakeholders of an educational organization are met. Learning in this context is understood as the result and outcome of the interacting processes of teaching (teacher) and learning (learner).

Quality management consists of all coordinated activities to direct and control an organization with regard to quality. Quality assurance is a part of quality management focused on providing confidence that quality requirements will be fulfilled. Hence, quality management is an organization-internal management issue and quality assurance a communication issue between the educational organization and its stakeholders.

Focus in the learning needs of the general education is shifting from learning to know and do to learning to be and live together. Very similar trend can also be seen in organization-internal education and training. Nevertheless, also more specialized skills and competences are required in modern society and organizations.

Learning is available in processes through traditional teaching materials (books, etc.), human interactions (teachers, colleagues), and technological means (modern interactive information technology solutions). Traditionally learning has been formal but nowadays experts agree that the most learning takes place through informal learning that is supported particularly by social interactive means.

Performance assessments are significant practices of quality management. Different evaluation models, comparative studies and classifications relating to educational systems and learning results have been developed for the educational field. Performance self-assessments are the most essential from the quality management point of view.

Learners are primarily human individuals. They should be taken as holistic persons in teaching and learning processes. Additional challenges are organizational learning and learning of the networks, e.g. the whole society.

The aim of this presentation is to provide quality focused ideas, examples and practices used in the modern general education and organization-internal training, education and learning.

[This text was presented at the CIMQUSEF Conference in Mohammadia, Morocco in 2013]