Blending Virtual Campuses Managing Differences through Web 2.0 Experiences in Transnational Cooperation Projects

Blending Virtual Campuses Managing Differences through Web 2.0 Experiences in Transnational Cooperation Projects

Yuri Kazepov (University of Urbino “Carlo Bo,” Italy) and Giovanni Torris (University of Urbino “Carlo Bo,” Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-358-6.ch014
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Starting from the increasingly widespread need to develop effective teaching in complex transnational settings, this chapter presents an innovative blended model with Web 2.0 collaborative learning strategies built in. The model balances pedagogical, technical and content related issues into an ad hoc institutionally designed 60 ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) curriculum of the European Masters in Comparative Urban Studies (E-Urbs). The chapter aims at disentangling the different dimensions involved in the curriculum delivery, highlighting the pros and cons of all dimensions of the model adopted. In doing so the chapter is divided into three sections. The first section addresses the challenges that effective teaching in complex transnational settings has to face, in particular it highlights the crucial need of managing differences. In the E-Urbs project we had 24 students from 14 countries, 5 continents, 6 disciplinary backgrounds, 32 scholars from 9 partner institutions in 8 countries. The second section deals with the way in which challenges and differences have been addressed and describes the dimensions of the blended model the authors adopted, arguing that a sound virtual campus arrangement should address the pedagogical, technical and content related dimensions in a balanced way considering the institutional setting within which they are embedded. The third section addresses the way in which the blended approach has been enriched through a Web 2.0 perspective, promoting p2p (peer-to-peer) collaboration in the generation of knowledge. The main argument is that an increasingly fluid society generates and treats information differently and learning agencies should not only acknowledge these differences but should address them with balanced learning models which take advantage of the new 2.0 paradigms. The authors argue that the result of a balanced blended Web 2.0 approach helps to transform the challenges into a resource for each of the stakeholders involved (e.g., students, scholars, partners, institutions) providing an added value in each dimension of the learning process (pedagogical, technical, content related and institutional).
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The Challenge Of Effective Teaching In Transnational Settings

During the last decade, E-Learning in its various facets has considerably grown (Fletcher, 2004; Waterfield, 2002). Industry, universities and professional schools have experienced the advantages and difficulties derived from this kind of learning arrangement. Some argue that this expansion of E-Learning models is due to the reduction in costs and infrastructure (Munro & Munro, 2004) in particular when compared to traditional face-to-face (f2f) arrangements. Others relate it to the possibilities that the new technology, including Web 2.0 and learning-object style of learning, gives to didactic innovation.

Universities are among the institutions that have used and experienced the most different E-Learning models, exploiting the benefits that virtual arrangements have on campus life (Bacsich, 2004). Increasingly, technology based solutions, including E-Learning and Web 2.0, are considered an answer to the Bologna process3 and the Europeanisation of higher education systems. The latter ask for new means by which students can experience innovative ways of studying and learning together in a truly European learning community. The European Commission considers this – according to the resolution of the European Council in Lisbon in March 2000 – as a necessary step in order to foster grow and competitiveness in a knowledge-based society (Kok, 2004).

The “virtual campus” becomes, therefore, a new organisational solution for enriching the transnational offer of universities where, thanks to the use of a LMS (learning management system), learning activities are completed either partially or completely online, with the distant/online assistance of the professor and tutors. Different from other kind of arrangements, the virtuality of these campuses facilitates the creation and development of distant learning communities and research programmes. Thanks to technology, designing integrated European curricula becomes easier and virtual campuses might be one of the main instruments for it.

Complete Chapter List

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List of Reviewers
Table of Contents
Markku Markkula
Mark Stansfield, Thomas Connolly
Chapter 1
Lalita Rajasingham
This chapter contributes to the ongoing discussion on current best practice and trends in e-learning and virtual classes in higher education. With... Sample PDF
The E-Learning Phenomenon: A New University Paradigm?
Chapter 2
Yukiko Inoue
An important task of higher education is to assist students in participating in an increasingly global economy. This global economy is transforming... Sample PDF
Linking Self-Directed Lifelong Learning and E-Learning: Priorities for Institutions of Higher Education
Chapter 3
Lars-Erik Jonsson, Roger Säljö
The academic seminar can be seen as the core of university culture. In a seminar, claims to knowledge – presented in an essay and/or orally – are... Sample PDF
The Online Seminar as Enacted Practice
Chapter 4
Stefan Hrastinski, Christina Keller, Jörgen Lindh
The transition from learning on campus to e-learning presents many challenges. One of the key challenges is the organisational culture, which may... Sample PDF
Is E-Learning Used for Enhancing Administration or Learning? On the Implications of Organisational Culture
Chapter 5
Dawn Birch, Bruce Burnett
Tertiary education is increasingly a contested space where advances in Information Communications Technologies and their application to... Sample PDF
Advancing E-Learning Policy and Practice: Influences on Academics' Adoption, Integration and Development of Multimodal E-Learning Courses
Chapter 6
Gill Kirkup
This chapter argues that e-learning innovation is best done in an environment that allows for small scale experimentation and development and that... Sample PDF
Flying under the Radar: The Importance of Small Scale E-Learning Innovation within Large-Scale Institutional E-Learning Implementation
Chapter 7
Albert Sangrà, Lourdes Guàrdia, Pedro Fernández-Michels
This chapter presents the findings of an in-depth analysis through several qualitative research studies, pointing out the key issues in relation to... Sample PDF
Matching Technology, Organisation and Pedagogy in E-Learning: Looking for the Appropriate Balance Leading to Sustainability and Effectiveness
Chapter 8
Irene le Roux, Karen Lazenby, Dolf Jordaan
The University of Pretoria (UP) implemented a virtual campus in 1999. The measure in which and rate at which the virtual campus environment was... Sample PDF
E-Learning and Virtual Campus Development: From Innovation to Sustainability
Chapter 9
Morten Flate Paulsen
This chapter presents an analysis of 26 European megaproviders of e-learning which had more than 100 courses or 5000 course enrolments in 2005. The... Sample PDF
An Analysis of European Megaproviders of E-Learning: Recommendations for Robustness and Sustainability
Chapter 10
Mark Stansfield, Thomas Connolly
This chapter will outline a set of guiding principles underpinning key issues in the promotion of best practice in virtual campuses. The work was... Sample PDF
Guiding Principles for Identifying and Promoting Best Practice in Virtual Campuses
Chapter 11
Helena Bijnens, Ilse Op de Beeck, Johannes De Gruyter, Wim Van Petegem, Sally Reynolds, Paul Bacsich, Theo Bastiaens
The chapter first describes the concepts of virtual campus and virtual mobility and refers to several past and present projects and initiatives in... Sample PDF
Reviewing Traces of Virtual Campuses: From a Fully Online Virtual Campus to a Blended Model
Chapter 12
Ron Cörvers, Joop de Kraker
The main objective of this chapter is to highlight the importance of subsidiarity in the development of a virtual campus. Subsidiarity is the... Sample PDF
Virtual Campus Development on the Basis of Subsidiarity: The EVS Approach
Chapter 13
George Ubachs, Christina Brey
In higher education, international student mobility has become increasingly important for learners as well as for institutions. But today’s mobility... Sample PDF
From Virtual Mobility to Virtual Erasmus: Offering Students Courses and Services without Boundaries
Chapter 14
Yuri Kazepov, Giovanni Torris
Starting from the increasingly widespread need to develop effective teaching in complex transnational settings, this chapter presents an innovative... Sample PDF
Blending Virtual Campuses Managing Differences through Web 2.0 Experiences in Transnational Cooperation Projects
Chapter 15
François Fulconis, Thierry Garrot
In the restructuring and reforming of European education, e-learning has become one of the priorities of the Ministry of Education, Higher Education... Sample PDF
Network Organisation to Improve Virtual Campus Management: Key Factors from a French Experience
Chapter 16
Luca Botturi, Lorenzo Cantoni, Benedetto Lepori, Stefano Tardini
This chapter presents a successful Swiss experience in developing and effectively managing virtual campus projects: eLab, the eLearning Laboratory... Sample PDF
Developing and Managing an Effective Virtual Campus: The eLab Experience in the Swiss Higher Education Context
Chapter 17
Christoph Brox
In three projects funded by the European Commission (EC), European and Latin-American project partners have developed, improved, and successfully... Sample PDF
A Business Model for the Exchange of E-Learning Courses in an International Network
About the Contributors