A revolution in the sharing of knowledge…

Transforming e-Knowledge
TABLE OF CONTENTS     Paths to the e-Knowledge Future   © SCUP 2003
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Tracking the Indicators of the e-Knowledge Economy (continued)



Chapter 3

Paths to the
e-Knowledge Future

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Reinventing Best Practices, Business Models and Strategies in e-Learning and Knowledge Management

Over the course of the next decade, we can expect a cascading cycle of reinvention in the practice of e-learning and knowledge management. These reinventions will build on what we have learned about the early generations of e-learning and knowledge management, as summarized below:

  • In colleges and universities across the globe, most of the participants in online or blended learning have been the institution’s own core students, not new students reached through distance learning.
  • Most distance learning and online learning have merely digitized existing processes and practices, thereby failing to yield cost savings, enhancements in the learner experience, or competitive advantage.
  • In Deep Learning for a Digital Age, Van B. Weigel presents a compelling vision of how traditional colleges and universities can create blended learning environments to create communities of inquiry that lead to deep learning experiences. Weigel emphasizes that the Internet can be used to create richer learning experiences, not just to reach remote learners.
  • The Pew Grant Program in Course Redesign has used e-learning to reinvent and enhance learning experiences in US colleges and universities. Carol Twigg (2001) chronicles how this approach yields a combination of cost savings, enhanced performance, great flexibility and personalization, and accelerated learner progress.
  • Institutional infrastructures and pro-cesses supporting e-learning are a critical success factor for leading e-learning providers such as University of Maryland University College (UMUC), University of Wisconsin Learning Innovations (UWLI), and British Open University (OU). These infrastructures and processes enable several competitive advantages:
    • the ability to leverage a single pool of world-class learning materials across multiple courses (OU);
    • the capacity to manage and add value to the institution’s relationship with the learner, beyond individual courses (UWLI);
    • the ability to offer and flexibly adjust a variety of physical, virtual, and blended learning versions of courses (UMUC);
    • the capacity to roll out cohort-based learning (UMUC) where online cohorts of 25, lead by a mentor, are the model; and
    • the infrastructure and capabilities to create communities of inquiry through “knowledge rooms” such as the eCafe at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

  • USQ has created a powerful vision of the “fifth generation learning environment” as described by Taylor (2001). This model blends e-learning and knowledge management tools. Eventually, USQ’s infrastructures will dramatically reduce the costs of learning materials and organizational processes in addition to enhancing all aspects of the learner’s experiences.
  • The COLIS (Collaborative Online Learning and Information Systems) project led by Macquarie University, in partnership with four other Australian universities and industry partners, has successfully developed an integrated approach learning management and information services provision.
  • Many for-profit e-learning ventures have failed. NYUonline (New York University’s for-profit venture) and Virtual Temple (Temple University’s for-profit) recently closed as did UMUConline. Unproven business models and strategies are the central reason for failure.
  • e-Learning in non-university settings (corporations, associations, other non-profits, government agencies) is growing, not as a standalone function, but as a fundamental element of performance enhancement and communities of practice.

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  The idea that both quality and accessibility can be improved simultaneously has come to be the hallmark of Internet technologies.
Van B.Weigel