The purpose of the APQN online Forum is to encourage participants from APQN members, either individually or in groups, to discuss topics related to quality assurance of higher education through the guidance of colleagues who are experts in the field of the chosen topic. The APQN online forum is anticipated to act as a platform for a very intense discussion and reach successful outcomes to satisfy all APQN members and meet their professional needs.
Up to 2016, APQN on line forum has been held six times, the including “Learning Outcomes and Accountability – the Role of EQA and IQA”, “Role of EQA on IQA on Quality of Cross-border Higher Education”, “Quality Assurance for Sustainable Learning, Teaching and Research in Higher Education”. In general, the topics for most of the forums have been identified through annual conferences, surveys, and recent QA trends. It is expected to be held at least every two years. The whole online discussions last one month/ four weeks.
2. Role and Responsibilities of Convener
The main role of the convenor is to decide the theme, invite the facilitators and coordinate the online forum in cooperation with the facilitators. The convenor is responsible for ensuring that the convenor and the facilitators as a group share the division of sub‐topics within the team. Besides, the convenor shall come up with a plan of the timelines for discussion of each sub‐topic. The convenor, as the team leader is responsible for getting the group to work and to ensure that the group makes the necessary progress and for wrapping the forum up. As a good team leader, he/ she is supposed to take advantage of the following guidelines:
1) He/ She should open the online forum by uploading a welcome message to the participants elaborating of the topic to be discussed and how the forum is organized, i.e. what is the role of the facilitators and the participants respectively.
2) He/ She has to be available to respond to any questions in that regard.
3) In the course of the forum, He/ She should log onto the forum site and ensure that the discussions are progressing successfully and assist the facilitators while they are running into difficulties.
4) At the end of the forum, He/ She summarizes the outcomes of the discussions and liaises with the participants about possible follow‐up activities to the course.
5) After it has officially been closed off, he/ she submits a final report to APQN, which will be published in APQNews.
3. Role and Responsibilities of Facilitators
The facilitators should work with the convenor to prepare the discussion materials, warm-up questions and assignments for a designated subtopic. Each facilitator will be assigned a sub‐topic and will be responsible for the discussion of that given sub‐topic. In general, the facilitator should actively participate and inspire the participants to share their views by asking questions or presenting good practices. This responsibility requires the facilitator:
1) To formulate the questions and assignments for the forum and post them on the forum site for participants to comment on or complete.
2) To log onto the forum site at least once a day during the period (normally one week to 10 days) where the facilitator is responsible for a subtopic.
3) To structure and initiate the discussion on a given sub‐topic.
4) To comment, respond and share his/ her views on the questions addressed by the participants.
5) To comment the assignments given by the convenor.
6) To write up a short report for the convenor on the main outcomes of the discussion of a sub‐topic.
4. Procedure of on line discussions
Step 1: The convenor decides the topic and subtopics and comes up with the Plan of schedule.
Step 2: The convenor invites the experts in the field to facilitate the discussions of a designated subtopic.
Step 3: The facilitators prepare discussion reading materials, and formulate key questions and /or assignments for the participants to consider.
Step 4: The APQN Secretariat announces the topic and timeline of the Forum to all APQN members.
Step 5: APQN members submit the nomination form to the APQN Secretariat, including the number of participants, their job titles, and contacts.
Step 6: The APQN Secretariat e-mails a list of participants to the convenor and facilitators for their reference before the forum kicks off.
Step 7: The APQN Secretariat distributes the instruction of access and use of the APQN online forum to the convenor, the facilitators and participants.
Step 8: The online forum begins (a month).
Step 9: The convenor submits the final report to the APQN board within three months.