Quality Board for Higher Education in Iceland

Annual Quality Board Conference on Online Provision

The Quality Board for Icelandic Higher Education will host its annual conference in May 2023 on Making the Most of Online Provision

Time: 16 May 2023 at 13:00-16:30
Location: Hótel Kríunes
Registration deadline: 15 May at 12:00. Please register here.

The event will be held on-site, in English.

The use of digital technology in higher education has been growing at such a pace that it constitutes a paradigm change. The necessity of relying on technology during the Covid crisis has clearly boosted this trend. Distance-learning provision is an attractive option, notably for remote and adult learners while using digital technology can enhance the learning experience for all learners.

A webinar organised by the Quality Board in March 2021 showcased the variety of ways in which technology was being adapted and applied in very different institutional contexts and across a very diverse range of disciplines by Icelandic universities. It concluded with two key observations that will constitute the points of departure for this conference.

The 2021 webinar revealed the importance of the institutional context. Individual staff initiatives are likely to be very fragile. Therefore, institutional strategy and support are vital in supporting wider and deeper developments in this area. The potential for technology to promote individualised and flexible student pathways would be promoted more effectively if institutional systems and strategy are able to support such aspects as continuing staff development, student support mechanisms, data management, management of quality and standards and resource planning.

Using resources strategically also means exploring how greater cooperation across the sector could result in economies of scale. This could include, for example, sharing courses, and shared approaches to aspects of quality management, staff development, and investment in technology. Such sector-wide developments might further support the great strides already made and further support a thriving community of practice in Iceland and across Europe.

Through a mixture of keynotes and workshops, the 2023 conference will seek to explore the following questions:

  • How are learners and academic staff supported at the institutional level in the use of digital tools?
  • Are the institutional capacity and resources adapted to deliver quality online and blended programmes?
  • Are the national policy and regulatory framework in line with the universities’ aspiration to deliver quality online provision?
  • What are the pathways – at institutional, national and European levels – for enhancing the current provision?


13:00-14:15 - Welcome and Keynotes

Welcome and introduction to the theme, Andrée Sursock, Chair of the Quality Board for Icelandic Higher Education.

Institutional strategy for digitally enhanced learning, by Michael Gaebel, director of the Higher Education Policy Unit, European University Association, Belgium.
Universities are now at an inflection point where they are deciding if they should develop a strategy on digitally based learning (whether blended, hybrid, etc.), and what is needed to implement it.

Inspiring digital-based learning, community & collaboration: Opportunities and challenges, by Prof Martha Caddell, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland.
How can digital pedagogies support flexible learning pathways and extend inclusion and accessibility of university education? What practical steps can support a sense of community, connection and belonging?  How can institutions work collaboratively to support staff and students to flourish in a digital-based learning environment? 

The Icelandic students’ experience of online learning and recommendations for improvement, by Birgitta Ásbjörnsdóttir, student in BA Media and Communication at Bifröst University and representative of the National Union of Icelandic Students (LÍS).

14:15-15:15 - Enhancing the Quality of Online Provision

Two parallel discussion groups will discuss student and staff issues (1) and institutional and national issues (2):

Discussion group 1 on student and staff issues
Chair: Lydía Geirsdóttir; Liv Teresa Muth, rapporteur

A. Student issues:

  • How is student access to, and success in, online and hybrid programmes supported at the institutional level?
  • How are academic integrity, student privacy, data and intellectual property protected?

B. Staff issues:

  • What are good examples of staff development to support online provision?

Discussion group 2 on institutional and national issues
Chair: Vaka Óttarsdóttir; Philip Winn, rapporteur

C. Institutional issues:

  • How adequate are the institutional capacity and resources to deliver online programmes? What are the management challenges?
  • How robust are the institutional strategies for online teaching and learning?
  • Does online provision require a special approach to internal quality assurance processes?

D. National issues:

  • Are the national policy and regulatory frameworks in line with institutional aspirations in this area?
  • Would online provision be improved via inter-institutional cooperation? What are the obstacles for greater cooperation in this area?

Coffee break

15:45-16:30 - Discussion and Wrap-up

Chair: Crichton Lang, Quality Board for Icelandic Higher Education

Posted on 30 Jan 2023.

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