More than just online
Learning in knowledge networks does not have to be limited to just distance education / fully online education. You can build knowledge networking approaches into a campus unit as much as an online unit, to get the right mix. Depending on the level of study, the content, and the style of learning, knowledge networking tasks can be the primary focus, with classes supporting them (as in our unit NET204); or they can be a specific complement to achieve some learning outcome not easily achieved otherwise (as for example in the use of xtimeline for reflective practice).
The applications listed on this site could even be seen as better suited to blending on-campus with online learning. While many universities are using a learning management system for that blending, or presume that is the best starting point, in fact it is probably better to avoid such an approach. Many of the things that an LMS does are specifically designed to replace the classroom experience for fully online students. Therefore, if you are teaching a unit on campus, a much better way to become innovative in the use of technologies to extend, support or amplify the learning is to think about specific activities, enabled by Web 2.0 applications, that ‘fit in’ with that primary classroom experience.
One key message received from people who discussed this project with me who are primarily on-campus educators is that they want to become more innovative in the use of internet applications for learning but are unsure that a switch to full online learning is necessary or suitable. The time taken to learn how to use an LMS, from scratch, is often more significant than that required for using a simple Web 2.0 application for a specific learning activity. Furthermore, students often associate the use of an LMS with a ‘cut down’ or more limited version of the classroom experience. Therefore knowledge network approaches to learning can overcome the challenge of both achieving a degree of online innovation and not so damaging the classroom experience that it becomes a muddy blend, not clearly on-campus or distance education.
Daalsgard, C. & Godsk, M. 2007. Transforming traditional lectures into problem-based blended learning: challenges and experiences. Open Learning, 22.1: 29-42.
Thorne, K. 2003. Blended learning: how to integrate online & traditional learning. Kogan Page.
Wallace, L. & Young, J. 2010. Implementing Blended Learning: Policy Implications for Universities. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 13.4.