A revolution in the sharing of knowledge…

Transforming e-Knowledge  
TABLE OF CONTENTS     Vignettes from the e-Knowledge Future
© SCUP 2003
   
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Tales from the Not-So-Distant Future (continued)

   

Chapter 2

Vignettes from the e-Knowledge Future

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Blending Learning Solutions. From the start, learning center companies provided a mixture of the infrastructures, services, and relationships with learning providers necessary to support blended learning. Its core infrastructure included:

  • a global server network that took bandwidth to the local learning centers and users;
  • a content object repository (COR) that made course content perpetually available;
  • a student information system (SIS) functioning in a multi-point, multilingual mode to integrate all the learning and administrative functions;
  • a CRM system for analyzing customer/ learner data, assessing learner satisfaction, and conducting marketing, sales and service interactions for potential students;
  • continuous publishing systems (CPS) enabling authors to write, edit, approve, and deliver documents/learning content from their computers via the Internet to a common database that generated both hardcopy and electronic materials for serving an online Learning Management System (LMS); and
  • a browser-based LMS linking with the SIS to provide trainers, lecturers, and students with advanced instructional, learning, and community-building tools.

Local Learning Centers as Gateways. Accessed from local learning centers, these infrastructures and services provided the gateway to learning offerings from accredited learning providers. Local learning centers forged relationships with internationally-known educational providers, who offered learning using enterprise infrastructure, processes, protocols, and relationships with local learning centers.

 

By 2002, the learning center company had forged a strategic relationship with a variety of colleges, centers, polytechnics, and universities in Australia and New Zealand and with the Global University Alliance, founded by Athabasca University (Canada), Auckland University of Technology (New Zealand), George Washington University (USA), Hogeschool Brabant International Business School (Netherlands), Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (Australia), University of South Australia, University of Glamorgan (UK), University of Derby (UK), and the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee (USA).

The “bricks and clicks” combination offered by blended learning centers proved decisive in introducing distributed learning into the Pan-Asian marketplace. The “on-the ground” relationship with learners and local leaders proved essential in attracting and serving learners. Initially, the blended learning centers focused on non-degree and associate-level offerings. Baccalaureate-level and degree programs were added progressively as the model spread.

 

Finding Lower-Cost Solutions to Fit the Needs of the Marketplace. In the course of time, the learning center model progressively refined its approach to create a highly scalable model for learning that yielded significant cost savings in either a blended or virtual learning application. While different learning providers were utilized, the learning center company’s infrastructures and services were used to reduce the cost of content, interactivity, space, assessment, and certification. Content cost was reduced using the content object repository (COR) and continuous publishing systems (CPS) to create, reuse, update, leverage, and scale basic course content. Using local mentors and learner-to-learner interactivity to replace faculty-to-learner engagement for basic issues reduced the cost of faculty interactivity.

Physical space costs were borne by local learning centers. Assessment and certification of competency were built into the learning process in a highly efficient, technology-supported mechanism.

 

These cost reductions enabled the learning center company to compete effectively with other providers in the Pan Asian marketplace.

Physical space for learning can still be attractive and necessary in the Knowledge Age. Indeed, most great, good public places in the twenty-first century will have physical places where people
can go to fuse work, learning, recreation, contemplation,
and personal development.
Food and drink will be part of
the mix as well.

 

Deploying a New Model to Markets in Europe and the Americas. Over time, the learning center company was able to leverage its infrastructure, best practices, and business models to introduce the blended learning center model to the U.S., Europe, and other developed countries. Forging alliances with a variety of partners — small business development centers, office incubators, and community associations — the learning center company provides non-credit and degree programs from accredited institutions at a lower price than is available through traditional distance learning offerings.

Meanwhile, the blended learning centers in Pan-Asia have taken a different evolutionary step as well. In many communities, they have evolved into centers for a wider variety of community-based functions beyond learning and job training, including small business research and incubation, cultural, and entertainment centers and work and learning centers for emerging businesses. This model has expanded to metropolitan areas that were not served by previous generations of blended learning centers.

Resources of Interest

Australian Government/
World Bank.

2002. The Virtual Colombo Plan.
www.developmentgateway.com.au/ vcp.html

         

 

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