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Issues in Educational Research, 2023, Vol 33(3), 957-973.
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'Missing the essential aromas': Interactive online site visits in the international accreditation of teacher education

Kay Gallagher and Anna Dillon
Emirates College of Advanced Education, United Arab Emirates

Within an accreditation-based approach to quality assurance in higher education, a site visit to an applicant's institution by an accrediting body is the culmination of the evidence-gathering phase of the accreditation process. During the site visit, accreditation representatives conduct standards-related observations and interviews with the applicant and its associates. However, when the pandemic curtailed travel and campuses were forced to close, traditional physical site visits were no longer possible, and were replaced by synchronous online visits. In this qualitative paper, multiple participants reflect on their experiences of participating in a cross-national virtual site visit for the accreditation of teacher education, a novel phenomenon for all parties involved, and a facet of teacher education that has not yet been addressed in the literature. Participating stakeholders, both accreditation body representatives and applicants alike, report many perceived advantages to virtual site visits, but concur that they lack what one key informant termed 'the essential aromas' of teacher education in situ. Despite this however, virtual visits are likely to be increasingly common in the future, and in light of this, inferences are drawn for optimising the quality of online interactions in the international accreditation of teacher education.
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Authors: Dr Kay Gallagher (corresponding author) is an Abu Dhabi-based Professor in the field of language teacher education, specialising in English education and bilingual education. She has developed, taught, and led teacher education programs across the UAE, including roles as Acting Dean and Associate Dean, and she was a faculty member in Education at the University of Hong Kong. Kay also has a strong school background, having been a school principal in her native Ireland. Her book, Education in the UAE: Innovation and Transformation, provides deep insights into the transformed educational landscape of the Emirates in recent years, and was co-authored with leading UAE-based educational researcher-practitioners. Her research interests encompass teacher education, language-in-education, and translanguaging.
ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0799-3485
Email: kay.gallagher@ecae.ac.ae

Dr Anna Dillon is an Associate Professor at Emirates College for Advanced Education. She has worked in the UAE since 2013, initially as a schoolteacher and head of faculty, and then as a teacher educator. She has held a variety of different administrative roles including Director of the Early Childhood Learning Center, an on-campus laboratory school at Zayed University, Chair of the Department of Education Studies, and Assistant Dean for Student Affairs at Zayed University. She previously worked in Ireland as a teacher educator, school principal and mainstream class teacher in Irish/ English language immersion settings. Her research interests include bilingual education, language education, classroom-based research, and more recently international education, third culture kids, and accreditation in teacher education.
ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8213-1295
Email: anna.dillon@ecae.ac.ae

Please cite as: Gallagher, K. & Dillon, A. (2023). 'Missing the essential aromas': Interactive online site visits in the international accreditation of teacher education. Issues in Educational Research, 33(3), 957-973. http://www.iier.org.au/iier33/gallagher.pdf

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Created 8 October 2023. Last update: 8 October 2023. Website: Roger Atkinson [rjatkinson@bigpond.com]