Virtual Campus Development on the Basis of Subsidiarity: The EVS Approach

Virtual Campus Development on the Basis of Subsidiarity: The EVS Approach

Ron Cörvers (Open University of the Netherlands, The Netherlands) and Joop de Kraker (Open University of the Netherlands, The Netherlands)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-358-6.ch012
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Abstract

The main objective of this chapter is to highlight the importance of subsidiarity in the development of a virtual campus. Subsidiarity is the principle that matters ought to be handled by the lowest competent authority. In our view, subsidiarity is crucial to sustainable approaches in virtual mobility. We support this view by two case descriptions: the development and implementation of a very successful virtual course - European Virtual Seminar on Sustainable Development (EVS) and the project to expand from this single course to a virtual campus - Virtual Campus for a Sustainable Europe (VCSE). We conclude that the factors determining the viability and uptake of international online learning initiatives, such as virtual campuses, are a bottom-up approach enabled by the availability of inexpensive ICT, an educationally driven need for virtual mobility, and interdependence within the international partnership.
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Introduction

Physical mobility of students and teachers, who may spend a period of time abroad to study or teach at another university, has become a familiar phenomenon in many European countries over the past decades. For over 20 years, the European Commission has been stimulating physical mobility in its member states through the Erasmus programme. The objectives of this international exchange programme range from promoting a sense of European citizenship and the competence to cope with cultural diversity, to improving access to high quality education throughout Europe and improving the quality of higher education through international collaboration and competition. The Erasmus programme can be considered a success, given that more than 1.5 million students have participated since 1987 (European Commission, 2006). In fact, however, in each academic year, less than 1% of the total European student population take courses at a university in another member state (Bijnens et al., 2006). The European Commission is currently aiming for a major increase in student mobility by 2012 (European Commission, 2008), but it appears that these targets will not be achieved by physical mobility alone. Even if the campaign is successful, the large majority of students will not be internationally mobile, due to a variety of social, organisational, administrative, financial and physical barriers. It is for these students that an alternative has been suggested in the form of virtual mobility, i.e., ‘using information and communication technologies (ICT) to obtain the same benefits as one would have with physical mobility, but without the need to travel.’ (eLearningEuropa.info, cited in: Bijnens et al., 2006). A recent best practice manual and review of European virtual mobility projects distinguishes four main types of virtual student mobility: virtual courses, virtual study programmes, virtual student placements and virtual support activities to physical mobility (Bijnens et al., 2006). A virtual campus, the topic of this chapter, is a web-based platform to deliver either a collection of virtual (e-learning) courses or an entire virtual study programme. In addition to teaching and learning functions, a virtual campus usually includes administrative support services, such as web-based enrolment, and sometimes also social functions, such as a web-based ‘cafeteria’ (chat rooms). In the context of virtual mobility in the European Union, a virtual campus is based on international cooperation between higher education institutions, involving formal or informal agreements on quality assurance, entrance requirements, transfer of credits etc. (cf. European Commission, 2007).

The main objective of this chapter is to highlight the importance of subsidiarity in the development of a virtual campus. Subsidiarity is the principle that matters ought to be handled by the lowest competent authority (Wikipedia). This concept is a fundamental principle of European Union law. The basic idea of subsidiarity is that a central authority should have a subsidiary function, performing only those tasks that cannot be performed effectively at a more immediate or local level. The principle is applicable in fields of government and business management, but also in education. In our view, subsidiarity is crucial in sustainable (i.e., viable) approaches to virtual mobility. This view is supported in this chapter by two cases, the development and implementation of a very successful virtual course and the project to expand from this single course to a virtual campus. Before discussing these two cases, we first briefly explain the motivation at our institution to integrate virtual mobility elements into the curriculum. The chapter concludes with our view on the factors determining the viability and uptake of international online learning initiatives, such as virtual campuses.

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List of Reviewers
Table of Contents
Foreword
Markku Markkula
Preface
Mark Stansfield, Thomas Connolly
Acknowledgment
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?
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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About the Contributors