As a case study, the USQ experience exemplifies
the institution-wide corporate approach necessary for an organization
to become fast, flexible and fluid as it strives to
develop the capacity to implement fifth generation distance education.
Professor James C. Taylor, 2001
The intelligence and flexibility come from a combination
of several factors:
- using the campus portal to access and personalize institutional
processes and resources for learners, faculty, and staff;
- technology-mediated communication, including automated response
- knowledge and content management systems that facilitate competency
development and tracking; and
- Internet-based access to Web resources and interactive multimedia
In registering for learning experiences and sequences,
learners can select a variety of options, ranging from traditional
lecture and seminar formats to online cohorts of 35 learners. This
semester, Professor Jackson is moderating two learner cohorts in
advanced statistical methods and leading a team of ten tutors who
are facilitat ing 20 learner cohorts in introductory statistics.
He is also supervising five graduate students three in China,
one in Singapore, and one in Melbourne.
Learning Cohorts and Computer Mediated Communication.
All of these cohorts are guided through their studies by interactive
navigational tools, setting broad parameters of subject content,
and accessing hot-linked Web resources or elements drawn from USQs
content repository and/or other marketplace options. Interactivity
is key to USQs pedagogical model. Interactivity among learners
and between learners, faculty, and other experts/tutors who serve
as mentors is facilitated through USQs Computer Mediated Communication
The CMC enables asynchronous discussion groups formed around learner
cohorts and specific content areas, as well as informal social interaction.
The CMC is much more than a threaded discussion on steroids. It
deploys advanced knowledge management and learner relationship management
system tools. The CMC is an essential ingredient in USQs academic
enterprise system (AES). The most thoughtful interactions from the
AES are structured, synthesized, tagged, and stored in searchable
databases. Eventually, the insights in these databases, including
differences in the responses from students in different settings,
form a rich pedagogical resource.
Content and Knowledge Management Are Central. In
2002, USQ selected WebCT as a strategic partner for several reasons,
including WebCTs strategic commitment to progressively introducing
content and knowledge management tools and competencies into learning
management systems solutions. Content/knowledge management capabilities
have been used at USQ at several critical junctures in developing,
experiencing, and supporting learning to:
- enable faculty to develop new learning objects, klogs of what
works in particular learning settings and other learning-related
- enable the interjection of just-in-time knowledge, reflecting
new development, into existing learning objects;
- support learners during their learning experiences with AES-facilitated
access to explicit and tacit knowledge resources; and
- keep track of knowledge that learners have experienced, competencies
demonstrated, and patterns of interactivity with faculty, mentors,
and other sources of expertise.
The following descriptions and supporting schematic illustrate
how content/knowledge tools are used in developing learning objects
and course materials.
- USQ faculty, mentors, and other experts create:
a) learning objects that are contained in learning object repositories
and whose metatags are managed through associated content management
b) knowledge bits containing insights on context and application,
and on the skills and interests of individuals, which are available
through knowledge management systems (KMS).
The KMS also contains syntheses from dialogues from past courses.
- Knowledge editors organize this knowledge.
- Instructional designers structure learning experiences embedded
- Learners access all of these resources through the AES, learning
explicit knowledge directly and using guides to tacit knowledge
to contact faculty and other experts.
Focused Interactions with Learners. Professor Jackson
has few conversations with his students that are trivial, fundamental,
or out-of-context. Student reflections are posted on
the AES and result in discussions that are typically complex and
energetic. Selectively using AES tools, Professor Jackson jumps
into the flow of ongoing conversations, guiding the discussion through
a AES-provided synthesis of past insights and his own insights.
He also uses AES tools to prod and encourage individual learners
and to intervene when automated records show learners have not been
engaging in the interactivity.
Communities of Reflective Practice on e-Pedagogy.
USQ uses communities of reflective practice on e-pedagogy to link
its faculty, tutors, mentors, and related experts in advancing their
knowledge and the application of effective learning.