This chapter begins with an analysis of a distance degree in psychological sciences. The structure of the course includes a national centre, faculties of different universities, and technological centres. The technological centres, located both in Italy and abroad, are facilities available to students, and are equipped with all the technology necessary to follow the distance courses (personal computers, satellite connections, internet connections, etc.). These locations constitute actual meeting points for students, teachers and tutors, thus allowing for face-to-face exams and seminars, as well for videoconferencing. The student is guided by a new figure, the e-tutor, who facilitates online learning and communication processes.
The Organizational Perspective: The Student And The Educative Institution
Everyday, researchers in the field of education witness the increasing use of technology in learning, and the spread of computer mediated communication in knowledge management (Jones & Laffey, 2002; Pan & Scarbrough, 1999). Very often a “naïve” use of technology is not appropriate, since it does not integrate three important elements: the student’s profile, the educational system, and the organization.
The first element is a very important one for our purposes. We need to know many important data about the student (or about the individual within the organization); in a previous paper we called this concept the extended training profile (Vanin, 2006).
The extended training profile includes the following information:
Key Terms in this Chapter
Infrastructure: It is the “strong” element of the organization, composed by the hardware and software of the communication, the net of physical and communicational contacts between members.
Online Guidance Systems: An online system allowing students or participants to e-learning process to understand what the educational process requires, which tools are used and to be informed of any kind of information about the organization, the educative model, and so forth.
Infoculture: Refers to the culturally based code that organizations have developed to fit their specific social and cultural environment.
Infostructure: Includes all the formal rules which govern the exchange of information between the actors of the organization and results in a specific code used by the actors to understand, exchange, and give sense to cultural metaphors and common language.
Extended Training Profile: Refer to the general personal information about students (age, gender, place of origin, etc.), educational and training profile, technical profile (capability of accessing technical instruments and informatics skills) and interactive profile (habits in using internet, e-mails, discussion forum, chat, etc.).